This document introduces some vocabulary that is essential to understanding the geocoding help.
Address locator style
The address locator style, also known as address locator template, is the skeleton of the address locator. An address locator is created based on a specific locator style. The style determines the type of addresses that can be geocoded, the field mapping for the reference data, and what output information of a match would be returned. It also contains information of how an address is parsed, searching methods for possible matches, and default values for the geocoding options.
There are a number of different address locator styles. Choosing the right one depends on knowing what type of reference data you have and in what format your addresses will be. For instance, you can use the US Address - Dual Ranges address locator style for street centerline data containing left and right address ranges, directionals, street names, street types, and left and right ZIP Codes. If you want to geocode U.S. ZIP Code data, you can use the US Address 5-Digit ZIP address locator style for creating a ZIP Code address locator based on a ZIP Code point reference feature class.
The address locator is the main tool for geocoding in ArcGIS. It is a dataset that contains information including address attributes, indexes, and queries for geocoding. An address locator contains a snapshot of the reference data that is used for geocoding. In the process of geocoding, the reference data is no longer needed after the locator is created.
An address locator can be published as a geocode service in ArcGIS for Server. You can also redistribute address locators by copying and pasting the address locators onto a different workspace or network.
Esri provides some nationwide address locators and geocode services that you can use right away to geocode addresses in ArcGIS. Those address locators can be found in the StreetMap folder on the Esri Data and Maps media. ArcGIS Online geocode services are also available from the Geocoding toolbar and Find dialog box in ArcMap.
Composite address locator
A composite address locator consists of two or more individual address locators that allow addresses to be matched against the multiple address locators and find best matches.
Reference data is the data source as a feature class in ArcGIS that is used for creating an address locator. The reference data may contain some common address elements, such as house number range, street name, and street type, that can be use for geocoding. The completeness and spatial and attribute accuracy of the data often affects the match rate of a geocoding process.
Reference data that contains suitable address attributes for geocoding can be obtained from government agencies, such as U.S. Bureau of Census which distributes U.S. nationwide TIGER/Line files, state, county, or city offices; or commercial data vendors or providers.
Learn more about various reference data formats for commonly used address locator styles
Geocoded feature class
A geocoded feature class is the result feature class created after a table of addresses is geocoded. The feature class contains a reference to the address locator you used so that you can rematch the addresses interactively in the Interactive Rematch dialog box. Additional fields are added to the feature class to show the status, score, and matched address for each record.
Learn more about geocoding a table of addresses