Frequently asked question

How does an ArcGIS layer file (.lyr) differ from an ArcView 3.x legend file (.avl)?

Last Published: April 25, 2020


1. ArcGIS layer file (.lyr) is a binary file, and an ArcView 3.x legend file (.avl) is a text file.

2. A layer file contains more information than a legend file. Think of a layer file as being a very large legend file. While a legend file only stores symbology information, a layer file stores all the information available in the layer properties dialog box in ArcMap.

Depending on the type kind of layer, such as data source type, the information stored can include the following:

--Display settings, such as transparency
--Scale dependent display properties
--Joined table/related table information
--Definition query
--Labeling properties for feature layers
--Annotation display properties for annotation layers.

3. The process for applying properties from an ArcMap layer file to the map layer is different than applying properties from an ArcView 3.x legend file to a theme in the project.

Article ID:000005936

  • ArcMap 8 x
  • ArcMap 9 x
  • Legacy Products

Get help from ArcGIS experts

Contact technical support

Download the Esri Support App

Go to download options

Related Information

Discover more on this topic