A quick tour of geoprocessing tool references

Tool documentation structure

The illustration below shows the desktop help system with the table of contents expanded on the Proximity toolset in the Analysis toolbox. The illustration shows the table of contents structure shared by all toolboxes.

Toolbox, toolset, and tool documentation in the help system

Installed help (desktop) and online help (Web)

When you install ArcGIS, all documentation is installed on your machine. A copy of this documentation can be found on the Web at resources.arcgis.com/content/web-based-help. The Geoprocessing Resource Center contains a link to the Web help as well. The installed ArcGIS Desktop Help is initially an exact copy of the Web help system. However, the Web help is updated periodically and may contain more information than the installed desktop help.

Documentation and licensing

Tool reference page

All tool reference pages use the same layout, described below.




A short summary of what the tool does. This summary may contain a link to another topic containing an in-depth discussion of how the tool works.


Optional illustration that helps explain what the tool does.


Notes and clarifications about using the tool. When the notes refer to a particular parameter, the parameter label (what appears on the tool dialog box) is used rather than the parameter name (what appears in the syntax). The correspondence between the parameter label and name is usually obvious, but in some cases, the parameter name will be noted to avoid confusion.


The exact syntax for executing the tool in a script. It is followed by a table listing all the parameters with their names, explanations, and the data (value) types. See Understanding tool syntax for complete details.

Code sample

Contains one or more Python code samples using the tool.


This is a list of the environment settings that the tool honors. Each environment is linked to the environment settings reference page. If the environment is of particular importance to the tool, there may be further information about the environment.

Related topics

A list of related topics, which always includes the toolset overview page.

Licensing information

Licenses required in order to use the tool.

Related Topics