How To: Create holes in polygons


Sometimes 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.


The following procedure is for Version 9.3.1 and earlier. For later versions see Cutting Holes in Existing Polygons.

  1. In ArcMap, select Editor > Start Editing.
  2. From the Task dropdown 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.

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