Tracing existing features

The Production Trace tool allows you to create new features by tracing existing ones. This functionality can only work with polyline features. When you trace with the tool, you can toggle between tracing and sketching a feature, using both tools to create a single feature. You also have the option of setting an offset for the feature you trace, which is in decimal degrees.

For example, you might want to create roads adjacent to a built-up area. A road can be created by tracing the built-up area polygon using a specified offset.

Example of a new line feature created next to a built-up area
A new line feature is created by tracing an existing feature.
  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 feature you want to trace.
  6. Click the Production Trace Tool button Production Trace on the Production Editing toolbar.

    A small circle with a crosshair appears on the map display.

  7. Click the point where you want to begin tracing the feature and drag the circle along the line feature.
  8. To set an offset, press the O key.

    The Tracing Options dialog box appears.

    Trace Options dialog box
  9. In the Offset text box, type the number of decimal degrees you want to use as an offset from the original feature.
  10. Check the Limit to length check box to limit the length of the traced feature.
  11. Choose an option for corners in the Corners area:
    • Mitered—Extends line segments until they intersect
    • Bevelled—Adds a line segment to create a beveled corner
    • Rounded—Adds a curved segment at the corner
  12. Check the Remove self-intersecting loops check box to remove loops that occur during extraction.
  13. Click OK.
  14. When you are finished tracing the feature, double-click to create the end node and finish the sketch.