Import Unicode data into a personal geodatabase

Last Published: April 25, 2020


Unicode is a group of character encoding formats that support most of the world's major languages. Several formats of Unicode are available today including UTF-8, UTF-16 and UCS2. It is becoming a popular encoding format as more data contains characters of multiple languages.


Follow the steps below to import a Unicode table into a personal geodatabase to be used in ArcGIS products.

  1. Determine the encoding format of the Unicode table. There are several encoding formats for Unicode. Verify the original data is displayed correctly using appropriate applications which can display Unicode data.
  2. Open a personal geodatabase (.MDB) in Microsoft Office Access. If one does not already exist, refer to ArcGIS Desktop Help for instructions on how to create a new personal geodatabase in ArcCatalog.
  3. Click File > Get External Data > Import.
  4. Navigate to the Unicode data.
  5. Click Import.
  6. Click the Advanced button to open the 'Import Specification' dialog. If the Advanced button is not available, skip to step 8.
  7. Select All for Language and select the correct Unicode format for Code Page.
  8. Continue in the wizard and complete the import.
  9. Open the new table in Access and ensure all characters are displayed correctly.
  10. This table can be used in ArcGIS to create a feature class, display Unicode text as labels on a map, and perform any other GIS operations once the table is correctly imported into a personal geodatabase.

Article ID:000007661

  • ArcMap

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