Category: Mapping

What I wish I had known about Model Builder before I started using it

By Aileen Buckley, Mapping Center Lead


We’ve been compiling a list of tips for various “What I wish I had known about …” topics. Here are a few things that made my list for what I wish I had known about Model Builder before I started using it: Continue reading

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Copy label properties to other layers

Question: I have my labels set up for a layer and there are multiple classes and sql queries set to make the labels function as desired. Is there a way to copy all of the label properties (placement, sql queries, expressions) to a different layer? I tried saving to layer file but upon trying to import that layer file to the new layer it doesn’t maintain the labeling properties. Thanks

Answer: You can easily copy label properties from one label class to another using Label Manager. To copy and paste the label parameters from one label class to another, just right click the label class in Label Manager and select Copy Parameters, then right click the label class you want to have the same label properties and select Copy Parameters.

The only thing that won’t copy is the SQL query, but you can either save this query to a file (there is a Save option in the SQL query dialog box) and Load it in the other label class, or you can simply copy and paste it.

You can also save and load label expressions. These functions are in the label expressions dialog box. But the label expression WILL get copied if you copy the label properties between label classes in Label Manager.

Formerly a Mapping Center Ask a Cartographer  Q & A.

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Map Use book released Feb. 14th

By Aileen Buckley, Mapping Center Lead

At long last, a book that I had the good fortune to help author is now available!  Here is the press release for Map Use: Reading and Analysis, Sixth Edition, which Esri Press released on Feb. 14th:

Redlands, California—February 12, 2009—To unlock the wealth of information in a map, a person must know how to read one. That’s why Map Use: Reading and Analysis, Sixth Edition, will be a valuable book for people who work with, study, and appreciate maps and want to improve their map reading and analysis skills. Continue reading

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Symbolizing trees

By Aileen Buckley, Mapping Center Lead

Trees Thumbnail

We recently got this in an email from an Esri colleague:

“I went to TOSCA’s (The Oxford Seminars in Cartography) Field Trip last night in the Christ Church Library. There were lots of 16th and 17th century maps to be seen. One of the most striking was Frederick Young’s Plan of the Parish of Hawkhurst (1818). The way the small woods are depicted and symbolised is fantastic. The symbology of the bushy tree is graded from yellow/brown to green. Can we do this in ArcGIS?” Continue reading

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Tip for editing curved annotation

By Charlie Frye, Esri Chief Cartographer

Have you ever found that even with feature linked annotation and the follow feature option you cannot get your line’s label into what you clearly see to be the best position? That leaves the option to edit the baseline sketch of that curved annotation feature. Continue reading

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Maplex strategy for producing annotation that will be edited

By Charlie Frye, Esri Chief Cartographer

Maplex - Thumbnail

Just using Maplex to label your map will result in more labels and more of those labels correctly located. We’ve been saying that for a while now. The simpler your map is (fewer features and fewer clusters of features) the more likely it is that Maplex will be able to place all the labels correctly. Another dimension of getting correctly placed labels is knowledge of what is possible with respect to how Maplex works and how to best leverage its features. However, it does not matter whether your map is complex or you don’t know as much as you would like to about Maplex—producing and editing annotation is the answer if you want your map to look its best. Continue reading

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How to Save Label Classes in Layer Files?

Question: I put this question on the following ESRI Forum thread:

and the reply that I had was that I should try asking a cartographer – so that is what I am doing:


I am not working with Geology data, however, I came across this thread when I was trying to find a way of saving Label Classes within Layer Files or in some way so that they could (along with their Label Expressions and Styles) be re applied to other Feature Classes.

I am using ArcGIS v9.3 & working mainly with personal & file geodatabases though occassionaly shape files & I wondered if there is any non programming way of doing this?

I have tried Willy Lynch’s script (many thanks) but because the Layer Files I have don’t seem to have the Label Classes stored within them – I think because they have since been converted to Annotation it does not seem to solve my issues completely.

I am also curious if anyone has worked out how to re apply Layer Files saved from Annotation Feature Classes to new Labels or directly to new Annotation as I can’t seem to find a way i.e. there is no “import” as there is for Feature Symbology?

With thanks,

Answer: Okay, so there are a bunch of things to address here:

  1. Saving a layer to a .lyr file does save the label classes… AND the SQL Queries.
  2. Converting labels to annotation just turns off labeling–it does not changing your layer’s or label classes settings–if you turn off the anno and turn labeling on for your layer(s) you will get the correct result.
  3. You can save your labeling rules to a style by clicking the Label Styles button while viewing your label class in the label manager.  That will show the Label Style Selector, and you can click the Save button to save your label style (Expression, Rules, & Symbol) to a style–this will not preserve your SQL Query.  Use the Label Styles button to retrieve your saved element to be used on another layer.
  4. All that said, the easiest way to reuse the label classes from one layer on another layer is to copy the layer and change the data source of the copied layer.  Of course this will only work if your second data source has the same attributes as the first layer’s data source.

Formerly a Mapping Center Ask a Cartographer  Q & A.


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A case for using page units (versus map units) with Maplex

By Charlie Frye, Esri Chief Cartographer

Last week I was working with a map layer of water mains and at 1:2,400 scale the shorter mains were labeled with leader lines (because they were too short to show the entire label along the line). My map was initially using the Transverse Mercator based on NAD_83 coordinate system. Then I learned that I needed to make the map in a different coordinate system as well: WGS_84, so I could serve it and have it mash up on our ArcGIS Online Street Map. Continue reading

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Layer symbology for NHD data

By Charlie Frye, Esri Chief Cartographer

NHD - Thumbnail

Most maps should have some depiction of hydrography.  The problem is, if you’re not familiar with the data or the typical symbology conventions, it’s hard to find the time to make the required effort. In the U.S., hydrography data is available from the USGS in the form of the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD). Once you download the NHD data you need (TIP:  you need to allow popups on this site), the next task is symbolizing it. To help with that here are a few layer files that you can load into ArcMap, then use the Layer Properities’ Source tab to change the data source to your data.

Continue reading

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Bad maps are bad for business

By Charlie Frye, Esri Chief Cartographer

Bad maps, unlike bad press, do not garner the sort of attention that can be capitalized upon. Bad maps are strong impediments to gaining mind share, and represent a significant risk to depleting mind share. Why? Bad maps are a visual, i.e., strong, communication method and convey incompetence and poor judgment.

To many of us this is obvious, but we consistently hear from people who are professionals who have to make maps.  Though most would not describe themselves as cartographers or mappers, they want us to help them make a case for better cartography in their organizations. Continue reading

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