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For Personal Geodatabases (PGDB), it is not possible to create a Memo field, similar to what is used in Microsoft Access. However, field widths greater than 255 can be specified when creating a field.
The application does manage Personal Geodatabase fields greater than 255 character as a Memo fields 'behind the scenes'. If a width is defined as anything greater than 255, it is reset to a width of 2147483647, which is the width of a memo field.
There are a few limitations when using text fields greater than 255 at ArcGIS 9.2 caused by field length incompatibilities between Personal Geodatabases (Microsoft Access) and other database formats. These limitations are resolved at 9.3:
- Copying and pasting tables and feature classes PGDB to an Oracle SDE Geodatabase fails.
- Some exporting tools (like the Feature Class To Geodatabase tool) fails when exporting from a PGDB to File Geodatabase or SDE Geodatabase.
For File Geodatabases, it is possible to create text fields with widths up to 2147483647. ESRI recommends using File Geodatabases as opposed to PGDBs when using text fields greater than 255 characters, as File Geodatabases allow full control over the field width. For example, a field width of a 1000 is honored, and not converted to 2147483647.
By default, the Table View in ArcGIS does not word-wrap or adjust field length to match long field widths. However, it is possible to manually increase the cell height to show long fields. To do this, in Table View, click Options > Appearance > Cell Height. The cell height is defined by a percentage of the font height. For example, in the screen shot below, a cell height of 1000% is used: