How To: Apply custom styles in ArcMap


Steps to symbolize a dataset with a custom style.


  1. Identify ID numbers or symbol names for custom style elements.

    Styles are stored as Microsoft Access 2000 databases with each subdirectory stored as a table. Symbols receive an ID number and name stored in the table accessible only through Microsoft Access 2000.
    This is how styles are stored as Microsoft Access 2000 databases (ESRI style in this example).

    [O-Image] Style storage as a Microsoft Access 2000 database

    The dataset attribute table must have an attribute item to store either the Access ID number or name of the symbol. This item will be the Value Field used within the Symbology tab.
    A style subfolder opened in Microsoft Access 2000 to show the ID and Name fields (Area Patches subfolder of ESRI style in this example).

    [O-Image] Style subfolder table in Microsoft Access 2000

  2. Add data to ArcMap.
  3. Right-click the dataset in the Table of Contents and select Properties > Symbology
  4. In the Show window, select Categories > Match to symbols in a style.
  5. In the Value Field text box dropdown, select the attribute item containing the ID value or name of the custom style symbol. Click the Browse button to navigate to the location of the custom style.
  6. Click the Match Symbols button.
  7. Click Apply
  8. Click OK