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How To: Remove overlapping areas of a polygon without using the Erase tool

Summary

The Erase tool in ArcMap helps users remove portions of a feature when editing to ensure data is accurately represented on the map. However, the tool is only available for users with the ArcGIS for Desktop Advanced license.

When editing polygon features to remove overlapping areas, users with the Basic and Standard licenses may use a combination of different tools to achieve the same results as the Erase tool. The instructions provided describe how to erase overlapping areas of a polygon without using the Erase tool.

Procedure

  1. In ArcMap, add the input layer and the layer to be removed to the data frame. In this example, the input layer is named Input_Feature, and the layer to be removed is named Erase_Feature.
The Input_Feature and Erase_Feature layers on the map
 
Note:
If any of the features to be removed are not within the extent of the input features, run the Clip tool before proceeding to Step 2. Add the Erase_Feature layer for the Input Features field and the Input_Feature layer for the Clip Features field. In Step 2 and Step 3, substitute the Erase_Feature layer with the output of the Clip tool.

Clip tool 
  1. Run the Intersect tool.
  1. For the Input Features field, add both the Input_Feature and Erase_Feature layers.
  2. Rename the output feature class if necessary. In this example, the output feature class for the Intersect tool is named Intersect_Input_Erase.
  3. Click OK.
Intersect tool
  1. Run the Union tool.
  1. For the Input Features field, add both the Input_Feature and Erase_Feature layers.
  2. Rename the output feature class if necessary. In this example, the output feature class for the Union tool is named Union_Input_Erase.
  3. Click OK.
Union tool
  1. From the Selection menu, click Select By Location.
  1. In the Select By Location window, select Union_Input_Erase as the target layer.
  2. Select Intersect_Input_Erase as the source layer.
  3. For the Spatial selection method for target layer feature(s) drop-down list, select either are identical to the source layer feature or have their centroid in the source layer feature.
  4. Click Apply and OK.
Select By Location
  1. When the features are selected, start an edit session.
Note:
If the Start Editing window displays, prompting users to choose the layer to edit, select Union_Input_Erase, and click OK.
  1. Press the Delete key to delete the features.
  2. Save the edits, and the features to be removed are erased.
Image of the map after the features are erased

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