Create holes in polygons

Last Published: April 25, 2020


This article pertains to ArcGIS versions 8.x and 9.x. Later versions of ArcGIS may contain different functionality, as well as different names and locations for menus, commands and geoprocessing tools. For the latest version, see Cutting Holes in Existing Polygons, and Creating new donut holes and island polygons .

At times it may be necessary to create new polygons with interior holes, or cut holes out of existing polygons. For example, a lake feature could be represented as a polygon without including islands as part of the lake's area. These holes in polygons can be created with the Sketch tool by digitizing an interior ring as a second part of the polygon shape.


  1. In ArcMap, select Editor > Start Editing.
  2. From the Task drop-down menu, select Create New Feature.
  3. To cut a hole out of an existing polygon, click the Edit tool and double-click the polygon to see the Edit sketch.
    To create a new polygon with a hole in it, click the Sketch tool and digitize the outer edge of the new polygon from which you want to remove a part.
  4. Right-click on the Edit sketch of the exterior of the polygon and click Finish Part.
  5. Digitize the area within the polygon that will not be included in the larger, exterior polygon. When cutting a hole from an existing polygon, it is necessary to select the Sketch tool first.
  6. Right-click and click Finish Sketch. The hole is removed from the area of the exterior polygon.

Article ID:000006118

  • ArcMap 8 x
  • ArcMap 9 x

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