Essential table and attribute information vocabulary

The following is a table of definitions of commonly used terms relating to tables and attributes. Some of the definitions are for specific parts of a table, like a field, while other terms refer to table-related functionality, like a join.




A set of data elements arranged in rows and columns. Each row represents a single record. Each column represents a field of the record. Rows and columns intersect to form cells, which contain a specific value for one field in a record.


Nonspatial information about a geographic feature in a GIS, usually stored in a table and linked to the feature by a unique identifier. For example, attributes of a river might include its name, length, and sediment load at a gauging station.


A column in a table that stores the values for a single attribute.

Field alias

An alternative name specified for fields, tables, files, or datasets, which is more descriptive and user-friendly than the actual name.


A row in a table.


Appending the fields of one table to those of another through an attribute or field common to both tables. A join is usually used to attach more attributes to the attribute table of a geographic layer.


An operation that establishes a temporary connection between records in two tables, using a key common to both.

Relationship class

An item in the geodatabase that stores information about a relationship. A relationship class establishes a permanent connection between records in two tables, using a key common to both.


In a geodatabase, a mechanism for enforcing data integrity. Attribute domains define what values are allowed in a field in a feature class or nonspatial attribute table. If the features or nonspatial objects have been grouped into subtypes, different attribute domains can be assigned to each of the subtypes.


In geodatabases, a subset of features in a feature class or objects in a table that share the same attributes. For example, the streets in a streets feature class could be categorized into three subtypes: local, collector, and arterial. Creating subtypes can be more efficient than creating many feature classes or tables in a geodatabase.

Query table

A table containing results from a query. You can create a query table by using the Make Query Table geoprocessing tool.

Definition query

In ArcMap, a request that examines feature or tabular attributes based on user-selected criteria and displays only those features or records that satisfy the criteria.


In ArcGIS, a system-managed value that uniquely identifies a record or feature.

Table and attribute terminology