GIS Editing Tools Guide

25 Must-Know Editing Tools in GIS

There are countless ways you can slice, dice, and edit data in a GIS. Densify, simplify, smooth, planarize, trim, fillet, divide, and explode… You can do so much!

So, that’s why we’ve created this handy visual guide with the essential GIS editing tools.

From basic to advanced editing, this is your cheat sheet to creating and modifying GIS data.

And if we missed any of the essential editing tools, don’t forget to let us know with a comment below.

Creating Features

1. Straight Segment

Constructs straight line segments by pointing and clicking each vertex.

Editing Straight Segment

2. Streaming Freehand

Generates vertices based on the movement of the mouse pointer.

Editing Streaming Freehand

3. Right-Angle Segment

Squares off edges for all line segments forcing orthogonal (90°) corners.

Editing Right-Angle Segment

4. Arc Segment

Adds curvature to line segments by setting a circular or bezier arc.

Editing Arc Segment

5. Trace

Creates new vertices by following along an existing feature.

Editing Trace

6. Radial

Generates outward directional lines from a center radial point.

Editing Radial

Aligning Existing Features

7. Move

Moves features into a new location without the modification of any vertices.

Editing Move

8. Rotate

Spins a feature in a circular motion from a central pivot point.

Editing Rotate

9. Scale

Resizes a feature proportionately in size by either increasing or reducing it uniformly.

Editing Scale

Reshaping Existing Features

10. Edit Vertices

Selects, adds, deletes, and moves vertices from an existing feature.

Editing Edit Vertices

11. Reshape

Updates the vertices from an existing feature using an input digitized line segment.

Editing Reshape

12. Replace

Exchanges geometry from one feature to another feature.

Editing Replace

13. Extend

Increases the length of a line to snap to an existing feature boundary.

Editing Extend

14. Trim

Decreases the length of a line to snap to an existing feature boundary.

Editing Trim

15. Fillet

Adds curvature at the bend of two line segments by creating a circular path.

Editing Fillet

16. Generalize (simplify)

Removes vertices from a line or polygon reducing the complexity of a feature – while maintaining the basic shape.

Editing Generalize

17. Densify

Adds vertices to a line or polygon at a set distance, offset, or angle.

Editing Densify

18. Smooth

Inserts vertices at corners to soften corners and reduce jagged edges in geometry.

Editing Smooth

Dividing and Merging Existing Features

19. Split

Cuts a polygon into separate features based on an existing line.

Editing Split

20. Merge

Combines two separate features into a single feature.

Editing Merge

21. Buffer

Widens a point, line, or polygon at a specified distance.

Editing Buffer

22. Divide

Cuts a line or polygon by distance, percent, or into equal parts.

Editing Divide

23. Planarize

Splits geometry where features intersect.

Editing Planarize

24. Explode

Separates a multipart feature into individual single-part features.

Editing Explode

Coordinate Geometry (COGO)

25. Traverse

COGO (Coordinate Geometry) follows along a traveled path (traverse survey measurements) using direction, distance, and radius.

Editing COGO Traverse
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  1. Instructions on how these tools can be used in a software environment (e.g., QGIS) would have been helpful.

  2. How is this a handy guide? There’s no content, no instructions on how to do these techniques or use these tools, lol.

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