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I have quantitative (numeric) data, and I want to use the same classification breaks for a whole series of maps. Can I copy the symbology from one layer to the next?

Yes you can, but be aware that if you have much variation in your values that some classes may not actually contain any values for that particular layer. Open the Layer Properties, select the Symbology tab. Click ‘Import’ located to the right of the current symbology. Choose ‘Import symbology definition from another layer in the may or from a layer file’. Make sure the layer you want to import from is listed in the Layer box. You have the option to import the complete symbology definition, just the symbols, or just the classification.

When using the same class breaks for quantitative data, use the ‘Just the symbols’ option. You will be prompted for which field to use.

The 'Just the symbols' option is not always enabled. It is only enabled when the following two conditions are met:

1. The source symbology and the target symbology are of the same type (e.g both are Unique Values symbology, or both are Graduated Colors Symbology.

2. The source and target symbology have the same number of classes. You can think of a class as the same as a symbol (a class actually contains a symbol along with other things like a value and a label).

How 'Just the symbols' works if you are working with Unique Values symbology :

ArcMap looks at each value in the list of values in the target layer, and looks for a match in the source symbology. If it finds a match, that symbol is imported. If it does not find a match, that class stays intact in the target layer.

How 'Just the symbols' works if you are working with Graduated Color (or Graduated symbol) symbology:

ArcMap simply runs through all of the classes and imports each symbol from the corresponding class in the source symbology. Matching is based simply on the order of the classes.

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