Defining the address locator components

Before you start creating an address locator, it is helpful to learn about their major components and properties. Creating an address locator involves selecting the correct address locator style and reference data and choosing options for the locator, such as minimum match score or side offset distance.

Learn more about the various address locator styles and their proper application

Components for creating an address locator

To create an address locator, the following components need to be specified in the Create Address Locator dialog box.

Address locator style

The address locator style is the skeleton of the address locator. It defines what reference data can be used in creating an address locator. It also specifies the properties and parsing grammar that guide the geocoding process and outputs. Choosing a suitable address locator style for the data you have and addresses you want to geocode is essential.

Learn more about address locator styles and commonly used address locator styles

Reference data

Reference data can serve one of three roles:

  • Reference data as primary table (required)The primary table is the primary reference data to be used by the address locator. The reference data can be a shapefile, an ArcInfo coverage, or a geodatabase (GDB) feature class. You can also use ESRI StreetMap data. The subsequent fields listed in the dialog box attempt to map the fields specified for the address locator style to the attribute fields in the reference data.

  • Reference data as alternate name table (optional)Often, streets or other attributes in the reference data are referenced by multiple names, or the name changes over time. If this is the case, you can add the table that contains alternate names to the address locator.

    Learn more about the alternate name table

  • Reference data as place-name alias table (optional)Place-name aliases are common names of a location, such as the name of a school, hospital, or other landmark. In geocoding, the address locator can be set to accommodate the use of place-name aliases instead of their addresses for matching. By adding a place-name alias table, you can search for locations based on a location name.

    Learn more about the place-name alias table

Field map

Based on the address locator style you choose, the fields available to match vary. By default, the address locator searches the reference attribute table and automatically maps attribute fields to the fields specified by the address locator. If the fields are not selected automatically, you can manually select the fields using the drop-down menu for each field. Selecting the appropriate fields for the address locator affects how an address is matched.

Components that can be modified after an address locator is created

When an address locator is created, you can double-click the address locator in the workspace to display the Address Locator Properties dialog box. The following components can be modified and saved in the address locator.

Name and description

The name of the address locator is used for identifying the locator. You can rename an address locator in ArcCatalog.

The Description text box allows you to provide a more detailed description of the address locator. This brief description is present when the Address Locator Properties dialog box is open and is listed on the Address Locator Manager dialog box in ArcMap.

Input address field names

When you geocode a table of addresses using the Geocode Addresses dialog box, the locator searches for the input field names in the table. The names listed in the Input Address Fields section are automatically recognized by the locator. You can add the names of the fields in your address table to the locator so that the fields will be recognized and selected. If the fields are not recognized, you need to manually select the fields in the dialog box.

Matching options

The Matching Options section is used to set user-defined settings for the address locator. The Place Name Alias Table button opens an additional dialog box that allows you to specify a table containing alternative location names and the corresponding addresses.

Place-name alias table

If you did not add a place-name alias table to the address locator when you created the address locator, or you did and want to use a different table, you can click the Place Name Alias Table button to open a dialog box that can be used to reference a table that contains the location names and each associated address. This allows you to enter the name of the location for geocoding, but the address locator searches for the associated address for finding the location.

Learn more about the place-name alias table

Spelling sensitivity

The spelling sensitivity setting controls how much variation the address locator allows when it searches for likely candidates in the reference data. A low value for spelling sensitivity allows Universty or Universe to be treated as match candidates for University. A higher value restricts candidates to exact matches. The spelling sensitivity does not affect the match score of each candidate; it only controls how many candidates the address locator considers. The address locator computes the match score of each candidate and ranks the candidates by score.

The spelling sensitivity setting for an address locator is a value between 0 and 100. By default, the spelling sensitivity is 80, which allows for only minor variations in spelling. If you are sure your addresses are spelled correctly, you can set a higher spelling sensitivity. If you think your addresses may contain spelling errors, you should use a lower setting. The geocoding process takes longer when you use a lower setting because the address locator has to process and compute scores for more candidates.

Minimum candidate score

When an address locator searches for likely candidates in the reference data, it uses this threshold to filter the results presented. Locations that yield a score lower than this threshold are not presented.

The minimum candidate score for an address locator is a value between 0 and 100. If the address locator seems unable to find any likely candidates for an address that you want to geocode, you can lower this setting so candidates with low scores are presented.

The minimum candidate score determines which candidates are presented in the Interactive Review and Find dialog boxes.

Minimum match score

The minimum match score setting lets you control how closely addresses have to match their most likely candidate in the reference data to be considered a match for the address. A perfect match yields a score of 100. A match score between 80 and 99 can generally be considered a good match. An address below the minimum match score is considered to have no match.

The minimum match score for an address locator is a value between 0 and 100. If your application demands that addresses be located with a high level of confidence, you should set a higher minimum match score. If you want to maximize the number of addresses that can be matched and don't mind if some addresses are potentially matched incorrectly, you can use a lower setting.

When batch geocoding, the minimum match score must be met or exceeded to be considered a match. If more than one match is found, the candidate with the highest match score is assigned. The minimum match score is also used in the Find dialog box if you have unchecked the Show all candidates check box. In this case, only candidates that meet or exceed the minimum match score are presented.

Intersection connectors

Address locators that contain street features support geocoding street intersections in addition to street addresses. In ArcGIS, intersections are designated as two streets delimited by an intersection connector string. Some examples of intersection addresses are Hollywood Blvd. & Vine St. and Yonge St. | Bloor St.

The intersection connectors setting lets you specify all the strings that the address locator will recognize as intersection connectors. By default, the symbols &, |, and @ are recognized as intersection connectors. You can add additional symbols or words to indicate intersection connectors.

Symbols or words listed as intersection connectors are used exclusively for intersection addresses. For example, 123 A and B St., will always be considered as an intersection address if AND is added as an intersection connector.

Output options

The Output Options section allows you to specify the precise location on the map where a feature will be drawn.

Side offset

Some address locator styles use reference data containing address range information for each side of the street. Address locators based on these styles can determine on which side of the street an address is located. For cartographic purposes, you can specify a side offset for geocoded features when using these styles of address locators. When you specify a side offset, the address locator locates geocoded features at the specified distance, based on map units, from the street centerline on the correct side of the street.

End offset

Address locators that use reference data with line geometry can interpolate a position along reference features for a geocoded address. To prevent features that are located at the end of a reference feature from falling on top of other features (for example, a cross street), the address locator can apply a squeeze factor, or end offset, to the location of a geocoded address. The end offset setting of an address locator can be expressed as a linear distance or a percentage of the length of the reference feature, between 0 and 50 percent. An end offset setting of 0 percent does not offset features from the end of the reference feature. An end offset of 50 percent locates all features at the middle of the reference feature. By default, the end offset setting for an address locator is 3 percent.

In the illustration below, the address, 100 MAIN ST, has been offset from the street feature by the side offset distance of 25 feet. This address falls at the end of the street feature and is, therefore, in line with the end of the street feature.

End offset

When streets intersect at odd angles, specifying an offset distance can have the undesirable effect of placing the address so it appears that the address does not belong to MAIN ST, but rather to OAK AV. This is shown in the illustration below.

End offset

An end offset can be specified that adjusts the location of the address toward the center of the street feature. Using an end offset often rectifies the condition shown in the previous diagram. In this example, a squeeze factor of 10 percent was used to move the address toward the center of the street feature by a distance equal to 10 percent of the length of the street feature.

End offset

Match if candidates tie

If an address locator finds two or more reference features that have the same highest match score but the geometry of the features are different, you can specify whether to match an address arbitrarily to one of these features. Use this setting to specify whether to arbitrarily match these addresses or leave them unmatched. In either case, you can review addresses with tied candidates whether or not they are matched during the interactive review process.

Learn more about the review process

Output fields

When creating a feature class with the geocoded addresses, the Output Fields section allows you to determine the fields that appear in the attribute table of the resulting feature class.

If an option is disabled, the option does not apply to the selected address locator.

X- and y-coordinates

Use this setting to create attributes in geocoded feature classes that contain the x,y coordinates of the geocoded features. With this setting, an address locator creates two attribute fields in the output feature class, one for the x-coordinate and one for the y-coordinate of the geocoded features. These attributes are not valid for an address if the address is not matched.

Standardized addresses

This setting allows you to create an attribute in a geocoded feature class that contains the standardized address. The contents of this field for each address are the address components used by the address locator, separated by the pipe (|) character. This attribute is useful for displaying how the address locator standardized the addresses.

Reference data ID

Use this setting to create an attribute in a geocoded feature class that contains the ID of the reference feature to which an address was matched. This attribute is not valid for an address if the address is not matched.

Percent along

Address locators that use reference data with line geometry can interpolate a position along the reference feature for a geocoded address. Use this setting to create an attribute in a geocoded feature class that contains the position along the reference feature to which the address was matched. The value of this attribute is a number between 0 and 100, with 0 indicating the starting node of the reference feature and 100 indicating the ending node of the reference feature. This attribute is not valid for an address if the address is not matched.

Components that can be reviewed after an address locator is created

After an address locator is created, you can review what reference data is used for the locator. There are also advanced options that display more information about the locator. If an option is disabled, the option does not apply to the selected address locator.


The release number of ArcGIS on which the locator was built.

Spatial Reference

Unless you specify a different reference system when you create the address locator, the locator uses the spatial reference of the feature class used for building the locator. You can click the Ellipsis button Ellipsis next to the Spatial Reference option to display more information. You cannot edit the parameters of the spatial reference; it is a read-only option.

Last Build

The date and time the locator was last built. This information can be used to determine whether the locator requires a rebuild if the reference data has been modified.

GDB Version

The version name or number of the geodatabase on which the locator was built, if the reference data was versioned.

Build options

By default, the Store standardized reference data in locator is checked so that the reference data is standardized on the fly and the locator stores the standardized attributes of the reference data.


For locators created prior to ArcGIS 10, the Embed geocoding rules in locator option is available, indicating the geocoding rule base is stored in the locator. This option does not apply to locators built with the current version of ArcGIS.

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