Splitting features using the Cut Features tool

The Cut Features tool allows you to perform Discard Clip, Preserve Clip, or Split operations based on the feature classes you have selected within your data frame. The features you select are considered the cut features, and their geometry is used to perform the chosen operation on the target features. Target features are any features in the target layers that have a spatial relationship with the cut feature. These feature classes are updated during the selected operation. You can also choose which target features are affected by the operation you select.

Examples of cut and target features

The Cut Features tool uses the selected cut feature's geometry to split the selected target layers. Cut features can consist of either polygons or polylines. Either polylines or polygons can be used as the cut geometry. For a polyline to cut a polygon, it must intersect the polygon boundary twice or be a closed polyline completely contained in the polygon.

Example of results of the Split operation

  1. Start ArcMap.
  2. If necessary, load data in the map.
  3. On the main menu, click Customize > Toolbars > Production Editing.
  4. Click the Production Start Editing button Production Start Editing on the Production Editing toolbar.

    The Manage Features and Create Attributes, Update Attributes, or Metadata Attributes windows automatically appear when you start an edit session using the Production Start Editing tool.


    If the Create Attributes, Update Attributes, or Metadata Attributes window does not appear when you start an edit session, click the Show/Hide Attributes button Show/Hide Attributes on the Manage Features window.

  5. Select the features you want to use for your cut features.
  6. Click the Cut Features button Cut Features on the Production Editing Advanced toolbar.

    The Cut Features dialog box appears. All features that intersect, contain, or are contained within the selected cut features are included in the list in the Target area.

  7. Choose Split in the Operation area.

    The Keep coincident parts check box is always checked and enabled with the Split operation.

    Cut Features dialog box with the Split option selected
  8. On the list in the Target area, check the check boxes next to the target layers to be affected by the operation.
  9. If you want to choose the exact subtypes for use with the Cut Features tool, check the Show Subtypes check box and check the check boxes next to the subtypes to be affected.
  10. If you want to unite all the features before splitting the underlying features, check the Union cut features check box.
    The Union cut features check box is available when the cut features are polygons. When only line features are selected, the union is performed before the split automatically.

    When you are using multiple cut features that overlap or share boundaries, choosing to unite the cut features results in splitting with the exterior edge of all the cut features. Choosing to not unite the cut features splits each feature individually and results in splits along the interior or shared edges of the cut features as well as the exterior edge.

  11. If you do not want features outside of the current extent to be split, check the Only modify features within the current extent check box.

    When the Only modify features within the current extent check box is checked, features that are completely within the current extent or overlap the current extent are affected by the Cut Features tool.

  12. If you are using z-enabled features, choose an option in the Z Values area.
    • Use Feature Geometry—This method uses the z-values from the feature that is split or clipped. Where the feature has been clipped, the vertex has a z-value that is interpolated from the original z-values defined for the vertices on the feature. For instance, if a line feature is split in the middle, the vertex on the clipped ends would have a z-value that is an interpolation of the split feature's original z-values. If the two z-values are 10 and 20, the z-values at the clipped ends would be 15.
    • Use Clip Geometry—This method uses the z-values from the selected cut feature. Where the feature is clipped, the vertex inherits the selected cut feature's z-value. For example, if a polygon is clipped, and the cut feature has z-values of 50 for all its vertices, the vertices created on the feature that is split or clipped are going to have a z-value of 50.
  13. Click Apply.

    The target feature is split.

  14. Click Cancel to close the Cut Features dialog box.

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