Spatial Analysis Lab (SAL)

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Converting Automatic Labeling to Map Annotation


ArcMap has the ability to automatically create "feature-linked" labels on the map based on values in the attribute table. These labels can be customized (size, font, color, etc.) from the Layer Properties sheet. For greater control over the placement and style of the text, these labels can be converted to annotation. Once converted, however, they are no longer 'linked' to the map data.


By default layers are added without labels


To add labels, right-click on a layer in the Table of Contents and choose Label Features


Labels are added (automatically placed using values from the default attribute field...)


To modify these labels (and/or the field being used to create them) right-click on the layer and choose Properties


Click the Labels tab.

If desired, choose a different Label Field to use for the labels


Change the font, size, color, etc. of the labels as desired


The new labels are automatically placed on the map


For greater control, convert the labels to annotation:

Right-click on the layer and choose Convert Labels to Annotation


Choose In a database (e.g. an existing Geodatabase) or In the map (e.g., stored in the current .mxd)

A database is nice for reuse in other map projects, but requires a Geodatabase to store them in.

In the map is simpler and often adequate.

Note the Reference Scale (the scale of the map with the labels added)

Choose to convert All features or just those Features in current extent (visible on the map)

OPTIONAL: choose to Convert unplaced labels (due to placement conflicts with other labels) into a dialog box

Click on Convert


If unplaced labels have been converted, right-click a label and choose to add or delete

Use the Flash Feature to assist with locating the feature being labeled


Delete if not needed (duplicates, etc.)


Close the Overflow Annotation box when done


Use the Select tool to select duplicate annotation on the map and Delete it (right-click)


Use the Select tool to manually select and relocate individual pieces of annotation


To manage annotation layers, right-click on the Data Frame and choose Properties


Click on the Annotation Groups tab.

Check or un-check an annotation group to turn it on of off.

Select (highlight) an annotation group.

Click on Properties


Modify the name as desired.

Choose to Associate the annotation group with a particular data Layer or with None (always on)

Optional: Set or modify the Reference Scale as desired

Optional: Set a Scale Range as desired

Click OK


Click OK to close the Data Frame Properties


Note that annotation now remains on, even when the original layer that was labeled is turned off (since we chose None as the Associated Layer above)


Note that with annotation (if you have set a Reference Scale), when you zoom in the annotation gets bigger (the font is set to a particular reference scale). This is not true for feature-linked labels unless you set a Reference Scale for the entire Data Frame).

Likewise when you pan, the annotation remains in the same location relative to the geographic features (labels will be re-drawn to best fit a new map extent each time you pan or zoom).




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