Tag: Labeling

Taming Typography with ArcGIS Pro


by Kenneth Field, Senior Cartographic Product Engineer Typography is one of the most important elements in map design. Successfully lettering your map includes the selection of typographic elements, deciding what to include, what to omit, how to portray your type … Continue reading

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Variable depth masking: Contour label example

By Aileen Buckley, Mapping Center Lead

Variable Depth Masking - Thumb

Variable-depth masking is an ArcMap drawing technique (available at the ArcInfo level) for hiding parts of one or more layers. One common use for masking is to clarify the legibility of a map that’s packed with text and features.

In the contour map example below, contour lines and annotation features for the contour labels overlap each other making it difficult to read the contour values.

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Adding labels to ArcGIS Online web maps: Part 1

By Kenneth Field, Esri Research Cartographer

Adding labels to web maps Part 1 thumbnail

Labeling is important for most, if not all, maps so people can interpret and describe patterns they see and to relate them to places. In online web maps, labels are usually only seen as part of the basemap (and un-editable) or as part of the textual information in a pop-up (and un-seen until opened). But how do you add labels to features in ArcGIS.com Map Viewer so they appear as part of the map? In part one of this two-part blog entry we describe how you can make your own label operational overlays using the Feature Outline Mask tool on annotation feature classes in ArcMap to convert labels to feature geometry. When these are converted to shapefiles they can be added to web maps you make on ArcGIS.com without having to create and publish map services using ArcGIS Server. Part two of the blog entry will take the approach a stage further by showing you how to add symbols and other graphics to your map as feature geometry.

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Labeling Parcels

In the parcel fabric, the parcel name text field is used to store the parcel identification number (PIN). This PIN is sometimes called APN (Assessor Parcel Number) or AIN (Assessor Identification Number) and other conventions. This number is usually kept unique by constructing it from the book, page and a sequential number, as well as similar methods. The field might store “264014001” which stands for Book 264 Page 014 Parcel 001 and can be formatted to show “264-014-001”.

Best practices include the use of label classes to show the full PIN when zoomed in and only the last 3 digits when zoomed out.

  • Label expression: to separate the parcel number by dashes you can use a label expression similar to this:  Left([Name],3) & “-” & Mid([Name],4,3) & “-” & Right([Name],3)
  • MapTips:  some users prefer to only label the last 3 digits and use a MapTip to show the parcel number when hovering over the parcel.


  • To do so, activate your MapTip in the Layer’s Display Tab.


  • To get the MapTip in the example above, use the following expression:
    ” Book: “& Left([Name],3) & vbNewLine & ” Page: “&  Mid([Name],4,3) & vbNewLine & ” APN:  ” & Right([Name],3)


Content for this post from Amir (Parcel Editing Team)

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Labeling Parcel Lines with COGO Dimensions

A parcel map requirements for line dimensions used to be hard to achieve using only labels. This is the reason many user reverted to the use of annotation. But maintaining annotation is labor intensive, designed for a specific scale and prone to user error. Labels, on the other hand, are database driven, can be easily compared with the line’s geometry as part of the QA process and require no maintenance once configured. We spent a few hours configuring the labels for parcel lines and you can see the results below, which are just as good, if not better. This result could have never been achieved without the parcel fabric redundancy of lines and the concept of line-point.
This post can help you configure labels for parcel fabric lines using the standard label engine or the Maplex extension. Even if you are forced to use annotation, you can benefit from this configuration, as labels can easily be converted to annotation. Continue reading

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Designing the Irish Surnames map

By Ken Field, Esri Research Cartographer

Geogenealogy - thumbnail

Back in 2009, I (and my co-author Dr. Linda Beale) created a map showing the historical and numeric importance of Irish surnames. It won a few awards and featured briefly in a previous Mapping Center blog entry to recognize St. Patrick’s Day in 2010. A paper I wrote about this map has recently been published in the Society of Cartographers Bulletin that details the design philosophy and construction of the map in ArcGIS. Rather than repeating a description of the mapping techniques I used here, the paper itself is available to download from the Publications page of Mapping Center (courtesy of Society of Cartographers). But here is a brief review of the map.

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Labeling in ArcGlobe

Labeling is an easy way to add descriptive text to features. Labels in ArcGlobe are positioned based on feature geometry, and the text strings are constructed from feature attributes. There are 2 types of labels in ArcGlobe: billboarded text and draped text.

Billboarded labels

Billboarded text is very effective in a 3D world especially when we need our descriptive text above floating layers or 3D objects such as buildings. We can make sure the billboarded text is offset from the 3D objects so it is visible and always facing the viewer.

For example, point features such as schools or fire stations locations can be easily labeled with billboarded text.

Draped labels

Labels for all geometry types can be displayed as draped texture images on the surface of the globe. This is an effective way of adding text to features especially when looking at large areas such as police districts or subway lines when no floating layers are present.

3D graphics labels

It is also possible to place 3D text in our 3D world not linked to a feature class. These are so-called  3D text graphic labels.

For more information on labeling in ArcGlobe, have a look at the ‘Labeling in ArcGlobe’ video and check out the new ‘Labeling in ArcGlobe’ template.

Gert van Maren
3D Product Manager

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Read-only support for Maplex in ArcGIS 10

By Aileen Buckley, Mapping Center Lead

Maplex Thumb

For those of you who use Maplex and want to share your map documents with users who have ArcView or ArcEditor licenses, there is great news — with ArcGIS 10, users will be able to see all your great Maplex labeling even if they do not have an ArcInfo license. This used to be an impediment for some of you. Not anymore! Read-only support for documents that use Maplex has been added at ArcGIS 10. Continue reading

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Using highway shields of varying widths

By Mamata Akella, Esri Design Cartographer

Highway shields example

Depending on the type of highway you are labeling (interstate highway, U.S. route highway, or state route highway), the standard highway shield symbol may or may not be wide enough for all the characters in your labels. Often, you do not get the desired outcome by simply using one shield for all highway number labels because one size rarely fits all! The numbers look “squished” or they overrun the shield symbol when there are more than two characters (depending on how large you make the shield and the characters). Here are some tricks you can use to create highway shields for labels of varying widths, especially when there are more than two characters in some of the highway names.

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How do you get missing annotation into an existing annotation feature class?

By Mamata Akella, Esri Design Cartographer

Missing Anno Thumb

Sometimes you will find that some annotation you had thought you produced is missing. You can add this missing annotation into your existing annotation feature class without having to recreate all the annotation. The approach you take will depend on whether you are creating standard annotation or feature-linked annotation.

Standard annotation elements are pieces of geographically placed text that are not formally associated with features in the geodatabase. For example, you might have a piece of standard annotation that represents a mountain range—the annotation simply marks the general area on the map.

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