How to Create a New Shapefile

by Priya Hariharan ; Updated September 15, 2017

Shapefile is a geospatial vector format in geographic information systems (GIS) software. The shapefile is a collection of files that stores geometrical data in the forms of points, lines and polygon. Attributes or data in the form of a shapefile make it easier and accurate to perform spatial analysis. Follow the steps explained below to create the shapefile .

Install the ESRI ArcGIS software on your computer (see link in Resources section below).

Click "Start" and then select "Programs" and "ArcGIS." Then select "Arc catalog." This action opens the arc catalog explorer. Arc catalog is like the windows explorer but specifically designed to manage geographic data.

Browse to the folder in which you would like to create a shapefile. Right-click on the folder, select "New" and click on "Shapefile."

"Create new shapefile" window appears. Give the shapefile a name and select the type of shapefile you would like to create (point, polyline, polygon).

Choose the coordinate system you would like your shapefile to be projected. To select a coordinate system, click "Edit" button.

"Browse for coordinate system" window appears. You can choose between geographic coordinate system and projected coordinate system.

Click "OK" to create the shapefile. You can add your shapefile to a map from the Arc Catalog.

About the Author

Priya Hariharan is a technical writer and a Web coordinator at a state agency in New York. She has been writing user manuals for three years and holds a Bachelor of Science in electronics engineering.