ArcMap Layout Tips for New and Experienced Mappers

Colin and David having fun in the studio

Colin (left) and David (right) in the studio.

Last week, over 2,000 of you tuned in to watch our live training seminar, Layout Design Essentials for ArcGIS 10.1, presented by Esri instructor Colin Childs, whose South African accent never ceases to please. David Watkins, Esri cartography product manager, joined in on the action as co-presenter to answer viewer questions. The seminar recording is now available for free viewing on the Training website.

This seminar is fast-paced and packed with information that spans basics like inserting a legend with attractive patches to more advanced topics such as adding dynamic text. Throughout, Colin shares tips to make your layout work more efficient and your designs more compelling.

Anyone who uses ArcMap to create layouts will take away something new from this one-hour time investment. The seminar title is actually a little misleading because many of the tips are also relevant to previous versions of ArcGIS for Desktop. Here are my top-three ”things I never knew” tips:

  • You can tell immediately whether your printer paper settings match your layout page settings just by checking for a drop shadow around the page in layout view. If the drop shadow is there, you’re good—the printer and layout settings match. No drop shadow means you need to go into the Page and Print Setup dialog box and specify the correct paper and map page settings…before you start adding and designing all the layout elements.
  • The Draw toolbar provides a lot of functionality that likely gets little use. Case in point: the Union tool allows you to combine two graphic elements on the page to make custom shapes (remember, almost everything on the layout page is a graphic). Just arrange the graphics the way you want, select them, then click Drawing > Graphic Operations > Union. The creative possibilities are delightful.
  • Also available on the Draw toolbar, the Polygon Text tool is a lightning-fast way to create a text box. Some people actually thought you had to insert text, then create a rectangle graphic, then group the two, making sure the text displays on top of the rectangle without getting cut off. No one I know, of course.

In the demo below, Colin shows how to share a layout as a map package and export a layout as a georeferenced PDF that provides dynamic GIS functionality.

About SuzanneB

Suzanne is a Maryland native with a degree in English Literature who enjoys writing about Esri technology and other topics. She works with Esri Training Services in Redlands, California.
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