Creating an address locator

One of the first processes in geocoding is creating an address locator. This process always begins with opening the Create Address Locator dialog box from the ArcMap Catalog window, ArcCatalog, or the Geocoding Tools toolbox. Address locators are stored in a workspace, such as a geodatabase or file folder.

The following steps describe how to create an address locator using the Create Address Locator dialog box.

  1. Open the Create Address Locator dialog box.
    • To open the dialog box in ArcCatalog or the ArcMap Catalog window, right-click a file folder or geodatabase, then click New > Address Locator.
      Create Address Locator
    • To open the dialog box using a geoprocessing tool, browse to the Geocoding Tools toolbox in the Catalog window and double-click the Create Address Locator tool.
      Geocoding toolbox
  2. In the Create Address Locator dialog box, click the Browse button Browse that is next to the Address Locator Style text box.

    The Select Address Locator Style dialog box opens.

  3. Select the address locator style that you want to base your locator on and click OK.
  4. Click the Browse button Browse that is next to the Reference Data text box.

    The Reference Data dialog box opens.

  5. Navigate to the reference data you want to use in the address locator and click Add.
  6. TipTip:

    Instead of following steps 4 and 5, you can also type the path and table name in the Reference Data text box and click the Add button Add Keyword to add the data to the reference data list.

  7. Repeat the process of adding data to the Reference Data table until all the reference data you want to include in the locator is listed.
  8. For each row in the Reference Data table, indicate the role that the reference data plays in the address locator by following the substeps below.
    1. Click the Role cell.

      A drop-down list appears.

    2. Click the drop-down arrow and choose Primary Table, Alternate Name Table, or Alias Table.

    A primary table is a feature class containing the geometry and address attributes of the features that addresses are geocoded against. The address locator style defines what type of geometry and address attributes are supported. An alternate name table contains the alternate names, also known as street name aliases, to the primary names of the features. An alias table contains common names or location names, such as Memorial Hospital or Canyon High School, in place of street addresses. Both alternate name tables and alias tables are optional.

    A list of fields specific to the role of the data appears in the Field Map portion of the dialog box. The required fields are prefixed with an asterisk (*). The field named Additional Field in the Field Name column indicates that the field is an optional field and is used for informational purposes only; that is, the locator doesn't use this field for searching or matching. The field is carried over from the reference data to the resulting candidates and output feature classes for your benefit. For example, if you want the locator to return a property owner field along with other address attributes in the matched candidate, you can map the Additional Field to a PropertyOwner field from your reference feature class.

  9. If a field is not automatically mapped, click the drop-down arrow in the Alias Name column and choose the proper field name.
  10. Click the Browse button Browse that is next to the Output Address Locator text box.

    The Output Address Locator dialog box opens.

  11. Specify where to store the address locator, name it, then click Save.
  12. If you want to save the address locator in a file or ArcSDE geodatabase, you can set a configuration keyword in the Configuration keyword text box on the Create Address Locator dialog box.
  13. Click OK.
  14. The create address locator process is initiated.

When the process finishes, the address locator is saved in the workspace you specified previously. Also, it is added to the map if you started the process from ArcMap.


An address locator can be published as a geocode service using ArcGIS Server. This requires an ArcGIS Server license.

Learn more about publishing an address locator as a geocode service


Address locators can be grouped together to become a composite address locator. This allows addresses to be matched against multiple address locators to find best matches.

Learn more about creating a composite address locator

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