10+ Best ArcGIS Books To Read in [2023] [UPDATED]

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ArcGIS (Architecture Geographic Information System) is an industry standard for geospatial development and management.

Reading books is essential in learning anything and the same holds when it comes to learning ArcGIS. So, we have listed out the best ArcGIS books to help you choose the right study guide. These resources will help you excel at ArcGIS, and they are suitable for beginners, intermediate learners as well as experts. Many professionals have already benefited from this compilation, hope you do too!

Best ArcGIS Books You Should Read

The list of the best ArcGIS books is given below. Check which study guide will fit you.

1. Getting to Know ArcGIS Desktop

best books to learn ArcGISThis is an introductory manual for those who want to learn basics of GIS but don’t know where to start. The book is easy to follow, with many graphics depicting particular steps. There is a concise explanation of concept of GIS which provides foundation for further understanding of the content of the book.

What I like is the step-by-step approach which allows those who never worked with the software prior to now easy understanding of the process. Further, it is structured very well, leading learner from less to more complicated tasks. It is useful for GIS professionals as a reference, too. All the data and 180-day license are available on the ESRI page.

I found that main objection to this book is related to the software activation code which, in my opinion, should be included. Some would say that the book is too basic, but, it is intended to be for beginners.

You should buy this book if:

  • You are eager to learn new skills which will make you more interesting to potential employers.
  • You are a college student who needs to pass the GIS exam as an additional literature.
  • You are GIS Professional who needs easy and practical reminder to certain features and tools that you don‘t use often.

Level (best suitable for): Beginners


2. Mastering ArcGIS

best ArcGIS books for masteringMastering ArcGIS is a comprehensive manual which will lead you from the basics of GIS all the way to more complex tasks, such as spatial analysis and GIS application in various fields. It covers pretty much all you might need in your daily work and which could be done using GIS.

Through 14 chapters reader is introduced with basic theoretical concepts which is accompanied with tasks explanations, video examples of “how-to-do” and practical exercises. All of these elements make at the moment challenging exercises doable and memorable. As an addition to the book you will get all the video and data needed for exercises.

At the first glance, the price of 172.92 $ for Spiral-bound book, for many could be the reason to search for less expensive alternatives. Also, 14 extensive chapters at the moment could be difficult to manage for the beginner and you need to take your time to learn all the steps.

You should buy this book if:

  • You don’t have knowledge of GIS Software and you want to have all the basic staff in one place.
  • You need to apply GIS in your job-related specific field and you need a comprehensive handbook.

Level (best suitable for): Beginner to intermediate


3. Discovering GIS and ArcGIS Pro

Discovering GIS and ArcGIS Pro is a unique manual that teaches student both “how” and “why” of GIS. Through tasks that strive to replicate real-world scenarios, going from the most basic ones to quite complicated, the book allows you to learn conceptual use of GIS through ArcGIS software-specific toolset.

What makes this manual differentiate from other similar books is that it could be used by beginners in the field of GIS as well as experienced professionals, and still it will be very useful and handy. Roles that students are put in in the exercises make them realize various ways that GIS is used in the real life.

Weaknesses of the book are related more to layout and unusual solution for Kindle version of the book. Layout is quite poor designed and unattractive, while Kindle version has instead of pages some kind of “location” (19.880 of them), which could occasionally be unclear and messy to read.

You should buy this book:

  • If you need a book that will allow you to learn GIS basics and its application in the real situations.
  • If you want to have handy reference book to remind yourself once you become fluent user of ArcGIS Software.

Level (best suitable for): Beginner to intermediate


4. Getting to Know ArcObjects (With CD-ROM)

best books to learn ArcObjectsThough pretty much outdated (it was published in October 2003), Getting to Know ArcObjects is pretty well designed book. It will teach you the basics of Visual Basics and ArcObject, focusing on adjusting interface. The book is mainly aimed at people who have been using GIS software but haven’t had any experience in programming.

What I like about the book is the methodological approach that is very thorough, and allows you to get grasp on the subject no matter what previous knowledge you had. Great thing is that the every step that is done has been explained in detail, followed by illustrations, which makes you understand what is going on.

However, the book will not teach you everything about programming. It needs to be seen as an intro to Visual Basic and ArcObjects as its name says. The fact that the book is outdated could be one of the major weaknesses. Also, chunks of code shown could be bigger, in order to allow reader to understand wider context, which is not case in this edition.

You should buy this book:

  • If you are a GIS user who wants to learn basics of programming that is related to GIS field.
  • If you want to expand your capabilities of use of ArcGIS Software by adjusting software according to your own needs.

Level (best suitable for): Intermediate


5. The ArcGIS Imagery Book: New View. New Vision

ArcGIS books to readThe ArcGIS Imagery Book is extremely well designed introduction to the power of imagery through ArcGIS and its web applications. It’s audience ranges from GIS professionals, through web developer, data scientists and wide range of others who could benefit from imagery. Through interesting combination of text and illustrations, it clarify wide spectrum of collection, processing, analyzing and capabilities of imagery.

What I like most about this book is its modern look, concise yet easily understandable theory followed by illustrations and links that leads you to ESRI web pages where you can access web apps and exercises. Great thing is that you could use either ArcMap or ArcPro to do these tasks. Also, it’s a great pool of ideas that will show you how you can use imagery in your daily job.

There are no really major weaknesses that I was able to notice. If you consider this book as an introduction to capabilities of imagery and software (web and desktop) for its exploitation, it will be more than satisfying.

You should buy this book if:

  • You want to get familiar with imagery and its applications in various industry fields.
  • You want to be able to use different parts of ArcGIS Software to quickly produce effective slides for your presentation.
  • Get new ideas to improve your analysis, 2D and 3D visualization of the analysis results.

Level (best suitable for): Beginners


6. ArcGIS Web Development

best ArcGIS Web Development bookArcGIS Web Development is a tutorial that is aimed to teach you how to use JavaScript API in order to build your own GIS web applications. The book will allow ArcGIS developers easy transition to the web, and web developers with no previous knowledge of GIS to apply their web programming skills to GIS applications.

There are plenty of examples that you can practice along with reading the book, through which you can learn a wide range of API capabilities. I also like the way the book is supplemented with publisher website and GitHub, where you could find code samples.

The book itself suffers from several weaknesses. Occasionally, it seems that some advanced parts have been placed into beginning, more basic content, which makes understanding of it difficult for less experienced readers. Further, some code samples are incomplete and you might not be able to replicate the exercise. Finally, the code examples, apart from being already outdated, don’t match between the book, GitHub and the publisher’s website.

You should buy this book:

  • If you are an ArcGIS developer who wants to expand your job skills to GIS web programming.
  • If you are a web developer without previous knowledge of GIS who wants to apply GIS in your job.

Level (best suitable for): Intermediate

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7. Learning ArcGIS Geodatabases

best books to learn arcgis geodatabases

The main purpose of this book is to teach you the basics of geodatabases and how to optimize them according to your needs using the various optimization techniques. It has been written mainly for geospatial developers who previously worked with shapefiles or CAD databases in order to familiarize them with geodatabases.

The book is well written and concise. You could find all the info on the web as well, but, in this manual you can find it systematized and organized with clear examples which will enhance your understanding. The best side of the book is that each new page and chapter builds up on the previous, so it’s very easy to acquire the knowledge.

Talking about weak sides, there should be mentioned that it doesn’t mention anything about raster images and tables, and it really deals only with creating and optimizing a geodatabase with feature classes. In addition to that, there is not too much said about manipulating geodatabases, e.g. doing joins.

You should buy this book:

  • If you are aspiring GIS professional who needs to deal with geospatial data on daily basis.
  • If you have used other GIS software and just shifting to ArcGIS.
  • If you want to have light and easy reference book to remind yourself of certain steps which you don’t do often.

Level (best suitable for): Intermediate to Advanced


8. ArcGIS for Environmental and Water Issues

best ArcGIS book for Environmental and Water IssuesArcGIS for Environmental and Water Issues book is comprehensive manual intended to be used by advanced undergraduate students and GIS professionals dealing with environmental and water issues. It covers pretty much all fields that GIS includes, emphasizing its capabilities in advanced techniques of surface analysis.

Using this book you will be able to learn various types of GIS workflows and procedures, including but not limited to various techniques of data editing, data acquisition, watershed delineation, etc. as well as advanced tools and extensions such as Spatial Analyst, 3D Analyst, ArcPad and so on. The best is that you have it all in one place.

The book itself doesn’t suffer from any major weaknesses. However, targeted audience is environmental and water issues experts which mean that, if you don’t need those specific types of analysis, you could probably find more suitable manual to learn ArcGIS and GIS overall.

You should buy this book:

  • If you are advanced GIS user and want to expand your knowledge on advanced geospatial analysis techniques and tools.
  • If you deal with environmental and water issues and want to have comprehensive manual as reminder for complex analysis

Level (best suitable for): Intermediate to Advanced


9. Python Scripting for ArcGIS

books to learn Arc GIS with pythonAs its title says, Python Scripting for ArcGIS is Python programming language application in ArcGIS. The user of this book should be experienced in GIS and at least somewhat familiar with geoprocessing procedures, but doesn’t have to be skilled programmer.

The book is well organized, follows logical sequence and very informative. Most parts of ArcPy are well covered and well explained. The main advantage and the quality of this book is that, unlike most other similar books, it is directly linked with ArcGIS and it provides you with the guided path to learn Python application in ArcGIS.

However, the book is missing chapter where would be explained basics of object-oriented programming. The book is written pretty much monotonously, without real-world analysis. While printed version is very nice looking and readable, eBook suffers from some minor weaknesses such as small illustrations that can’t be zoomed in.

You should buy this book:

  • If you are experienced ArcGIS user without previous programming knowledge who needs to automate GIS tasks.
  • If you are somewhat familiar with programming and you want to apply it to ArcGIS.
  • If you simply want to have a good reference book to remind yourself as needed.

Level (best suitable for): Intermediate to Advanced


10. ArcPy and ArcGIS – Automating ArcGIS for Desktop and ArcGIS Online with Python

ArcPy and ArcGIS for Desktop with PythonThis book requires your understanding of and experience in using Python. It is written for GIS professionals to enhance their knowledge and help automating repetitive tasks. It will familiarize you with ArcPy and make you able to conduct complex analysis more easily.

The great about this book is that you will not only be introduced and taught to work in ArcPy, but also it will give you some ideas that you probably wouldn’t think of on your own. While you need to have some knowledge and experience in programming, this book will help you understand and teach you to automate geospatial analysis.

This book is designed to people who have at least basic understanding of programming which makes novices hard to follow it. There is an issue with a dataset that is to be used with this book which doesn’t exists or is hidden somewhere and is very hard to find it. I wasn’t able to find it, anyway.

You should buy this book:

  • If you are somewhat familiar with programming (especially in Python) and want to apply it to ArcGIS.
  • If you are an experienced GIS user that needs to automate daily routine analysis tasks.

Level (best suitable for): Intermediate to Advanced


11. Understanding GIS: An ArcGIS Pro Project Workbook

books to learn Arc GIS Pro

This is a book with unique approach to learning GIS. It leads you through one large scale project explaining both general use of GIS in the real world and teaching you how to use tools of ArcGIS Pro during project development and implementation.

The main advantage of this book is that you could be either experienced with ArcGIS Desktop or total beginner, you will have something to learn. First ones will expand their knowledge learning ArcPro platform functionality, while beginners will, in addition to that, comprehend the project process development itself.

However, it should be mentioned that the content is really not intended to be comprehensive manual that will teach you everything about GIS or ArcPro as a software. Still, it will provide you with good base of capabilities and functionalities of ArcPro.

You should buy this book:

  • If you are an ArcGIS Desktop user who wants to learn and start using ArcPro.
  • If you are a novice in the GIS world who needs to learn both software and thinking process during accomplishing GIS tasks.

Level (best suitable for): Beginners


12. Getting to Know ArcGIS Pro

Getting to Know ArcGIS Pro is very good introductory manual for beginners in GIS. It is going to teach you as a novice in GIS realm basics of it through ArcPro application. If you are a teacher you could use it well in the classroom. On the other hand, it will be very useful if you are on the other side, as a student, too.

This is methodologically developed, clearly written and well organized book, made in known manner of other getting to know books. Each step is clearly explained and followed by illustrations, which means you just need to carefully follow the instructions.

However, you have to have in mind the main purpose of the book: to teach you basics of GIS. If you are already familiar with GIS and you are not teacher (meaning you don’t have to teach others GIS), this book is not for you. It’s not the book that teach you pros and cons of ArcGIS Pro.

You should buy this book:

  • If you are novice in GIS in order to teach you the basics of it using ArcGIS Pro.
  • If you need to teach others foundations of GIS then this book will make your job easier.

Level (best suitable for): Beginners


13. Mastering ArcGIS Enterprise Administration

best books to Mastering ArcGIS Enterprise AdministrationArcGIS Enterprise Administration has been complex topic and it needed a book such this. By using it you will learn how to install, configure, and manage ArcGIS Enterprise using user interfaces and APIs. You will be guided through installation step-by-step, set up configuration and use it at the end of the process.

This is a must have for any ArcGIS Enterprise Administrator, as it covers wide range of content in a coherent and organized manner. The quality of this book is that it teach you a lot, from installation, to use, write simple scripts while taking special care of security. You will learn things such as ArcGIS Datastore, ArcGIS Web Adaptor, SSL certificates, and much more that you as an Administrator will need.

Some minor weaknesses are related to missing several useful topics, while some others have not been explored detailed enough. For example, there is not mentioned upgrading ArcGIS Enterprise from previous system. On the other hand, cloud deployments and upgrades as well as ArcGIS Python API could be  explained more detailed.

You should buy this book:

  • If you are or will be ArcGIS Administrator in charge for maintaining ArcGIS Enterprise in the company.
  • If you are an ArcGIS user that wants to expand your knowledge and possibly advance your career.

Level (best suitable for): Advanced