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Pop-ups: the essentials

Authoring web maps is easy, although authoring a truly great map requires a bit of additional thought and tradecraft. Smart mapping guides us to choices that help us use one or more attributes to present data in effective and meaningful ways, and makes it easier than ever to create visually compelling maps that unlock the stories in your data. Effects and blending are additional tools that help us craft truly expressive maps.

But going beyond styles and effects, layer pop-ups are an equally essential and important part of crafting the complete map information experience. Pop-ups can transform an otherwise dull list of attributes into a far more meaningful display of intuitive and engaging information for your audience. While it’s also easy to craft good pop-ups, they are often are overlooked. But with a little knowledge and tradecraft, it’s easy to push your pop-ups to the next level, turning attributes into enlightenment.

Quick links

Use these links to jump to a section of interest. You can also open the pop-up examples map and jump directly to the example of interest below.

See the difference
Configure fields
Pop-up title
Pop-up content
Saving a layer pop-up
Pop-up examples map
Explore examples

Once a pop-up, always a pop-up
More information


See the difference

It’s easy to see the difference between an unconfigured pop-up and one that is well-crafted. The default pop-up appearance for a layer is a plain list of attributes with default field names. As a map or layer owner, you can reconfigure the pop-ups to define the list of visible and hidden fields, create field aliases, format numbers and dates, add charts and images, and choose how information for features in your map is best presented.

Rather than display the default list of attributes, you can provide a rich information display by providing custom-formatted text and charts. With additional configuration capabilities, such as using Arcade expressions, HTML, or data from related tables, you can do even more. For an overview, see Configure pop-ups.

Compare the two examples below. Which delivers the more meaningful and engaging experience?

Pop-up comparison
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Configure fields

The first step to creating a better pop-up is to configure the attribute fields. Follow these steps:

Step 1 — In the Layers pane, select the layer whose fields you want to configure.

Select layer

Step 2 — Configure the Display name, and if numeric, the use of commas and decimal places.

a – Click Fields in the Settings (light) toolbar.

b – Click the field you want to configure.

c – Edit the display name (alias) and, if numeric, the use of commas and decimal places. Click Done when finished.

Configure fields


Pop-up title

The pop-up title appears at the top of the pop-up. It can be blank, display text, fields, or a combination of text and fields. Follow these steps to configure a title:

Step 1 — Click Configure pop-ups from the Settings (light) toolbar. Ensure that Enable pop-ups is toggled on.

Step 2 — Click Title to expand the panel.

Pop-up title

Step 3 — Configure the title.

Click the field drop-down { } to add field values. The field name appears within the curly braces – {field_name} – and the contents will be populated by the value for the specific feature that is clicked.

Here are a few examples:

Configure title


Pop-up content

Pop-up contents fill the main part of the pop-up window.  Click Add content to display a list of pop-up elements.

Add pop-up elements

The unique pop-up elements are:

Fields list — A list of fields is displayed by default for each feature layer you add to the map. The fields can be configured as described in the Configure fields section above. In the Field list, you can also choose which fields to display and can rearrange fields.

Chart — Add charts to graphically display the values of numeric attribute fields. You can add bar charts, line charts, and pie charts.

Image — You can include images in pop-ups by providing a URL to an image (PNG, JPEG, or GIF format). The URL may also come from a field. The images can include a title, caption, links to related websites or larger images, and alternative text. Tips: If you want the image to fill the full horizontal pane dimensions of the pop-up, use a width of 400px or greater. Always optimize the image for web use by reducing size.

Text — Include descriptive text. The typography and colors can be changed. Fields and links can be used in conjunction with plain text. HTML can also be added.

Arcade — Arcade is an expression language in ArcGIS. In pop-ups, it can be used in two ways. The first way is to create expressions which can be treated like fields in text. Expressions are very useful to evaluate, format, and deliver information that can be embedded into the pop-up. Arcade is also a unique content element. As a unique content element it can return a complete section in a pop-up, such as a a chart, HTML, or text that has been completely formatted via Arcade.

Related records — Some layers may contain preestablished relationships to other tables or layers through a common field. If your layers have relationships, they are detected automatically and you can configure pop-ups to display the related records. An additional option to configure related records will appear at the bottom of the pop-up content elements. For more information, see Show related records.

Related records in pop-up elements


Saving a layer pop-up

When you configure layer pop-ups in Map Viewer, the configurations will be saved with the map. If you have appropriate privileges you can override and modify existing pop-up configurations and save them in a new map.

To make your feature layer configurations available for use in other maps, you can save the layer as an item in My Content. If you make changes to the properties of an existing feature layer and want to save your changes without modifying the source layer properties, you can save the layer as a new item. For more information, see Save and duplicate layers.

Configured pop-ups will display across apps such as ArcGIS Instant Apps, ArcGIS StoryMaps, ArcGIS Dashboards, and so on. Note that older apps will show a slightly different pop-up.


Pop-up examples map

You can view the examples outlined in this blog article using the pop-up examples map. Once you open the map, click Sign In to save the map to your Content. You can also follow along without signing in.

Each pop-up example is represented by a unique layer. The layer name indicates how the pop-up has been configured. Open the Layers pane from the Contents (dark) toolbar.

Example layer pop-ups

To view the pop-up, toggle the visibility to show only the desired layer.

Hide / show layer

Click a feature in the map to view the configured pop-up.

Tip: Click the Dock button to dock the pop-up and view more of its content.

Dock pop-up

To see how the pop-up is configured, select the layer in the Layers pane and click Pop-ups in the Settings (light) toolbar. Click to expand the content elements to see how it has been configured. Note that some layers use multiple pop-up elements.

Pop-up media


Explore the examples

The following is a description of each layer in the pop-up examples map and how it was configured.

Default (not configured)

The default pop-up appearance for a layer is a plain list of attributes, with attribute field names “as-is” from the source and default formatting for numbers. This is the default pop-up from the California Peaks: Default (not configured) layer.

Default pop-up

A few simple changes can be made to improve the information display. For example, some fields are not needed and can be hidden, such as LAT and LONG.  Field aliases can be used to change all caps to mixed case for better readability. Field display names (aliases) can be used to make them more understandable, for example changing DESC_ to Description. In addition, numeric displays can be formatted to remove or include commas and specify decimal places.

Some fields, such as PHOTO_URL, PHOTO_CREDIT, and REF, contain links that can be used to further enhance the pop-up.

Configured fields

The California Peaks: Configured fields layer takes the next step. Using Configure fields, described above, display names have been changed. Several fields (such as LAT and LONG) have been hidden by checking them off. In addition, fields have been reordered to provide better organization. Click to grab a field and drop it into a new position.

Toggle visibility and rearrange

Compare the unconfigured (shown on left) and configured (shown on right) field media content. With a few simple changes the pop-up has been improved significantly.

Default vs. configured fields
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Text from one field

The Description field contains descriptive text for the peak. The California Peaks: Text from one field layer pop-up uses the {DESC_} field in the Text media box.

Text from one field
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To select the field, open the text editor and type “{” to add an attribute. Choose Description from the drop-down list of fields.

Field list

Formatted text

The California Peaks: Formatted text layer uses a text element that combines fields and text with colors and typography (changed from the default to 14 pt. Verdana). A More info… link has also been added using the URL from the REF field.

Formatted text
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Text and photo

California Peaks: Text + photo uses the same text element as above and adds an image element from a URL stored in the {PHOTO_URL} field. If you want the image to completely fill the width of the available pop-up space, use an image that is 400 px wide or wider.

Image element
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Tip: While the image will be fitted within the pop-up, it’s always best to reduce the size of the image to optimize display performance. Create a reduced size photo for use in the pop-up and link to a larger version of the photo if needed.

Text and video

California Peaks: Text + video is similar to the layer above it, but replaces the photo with an auto-play video. The video can be added via the HTML Source button in the editor.

Videos are supported using the HTML5 <video> tag and associated elements. For more information, see W3Schools HTML Video.

Video using HTML
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Text, photo, and chart

California Peaks: Text, photo, chart builds upon the layer above and adds a chart element that compares the peak elevation to prominence, a measure of the height of a mountain relative to the lowest contour line encircling it but containing no higher summit within it.

When adding a chart, choose the desired fields and, depending on the data, how to display the values; as a bar, line, or pie chart.

Chart element
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Charts and images are both media elements. You can add multiple media elements within an image or chart element to create a media group. This results in a horizontal, rather than vertical, pop-up experience, which can be navigated using left and right arrows which appear on either side of the chart or image.

Media group
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California Peaks: HTML uses two text elements using Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) to create a table and add a graphic with links to the attribution.  Click the Source button in the text editor to enter the HTML.

HTML pop-up
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Arcade expressions

Arcade is an expression language that is supported across ArcGIS. It can be used to perform calculations, manipulate text, and evaluate logical statements.

In pop-ups, Arcade is used in two ways; to create expressions in text elements that can be evaluated like fields, or as separate elements that return a block of content.

California Peaks: Text + Arcade expression uses a single expression ({expression/expr0}) to return a string describing the ranking of the prominence.

Arcade expression
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To create, edit, or view expressions, click Manage expressions, then click the expression or click Add expression.


Once a pop-up, always a pop-up

Once a pop-up has been configured, it is used across all apps and devices. For example, the pop-up configured with HTML in the example above is shown below in a story created using ArcGIS StoryMaps.

Pop-up in ArcGIS StoryMaps
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Tip: Though the essential pop-up configuration persists across apps and devices, note that some configurable apps and app builders will display pop-up contents slightly differently. If your goal is to craft a map for a specific app or device, for best results test your configuration in the app and make adjustments in the layer pop-up configuration accordingly.


More information

For more information, see:


This article was originally published on March 17, 2011, and has been updated.

About the author

Corporate technology evangelist and advocate at Esri, focusing on ways to broaden access to geographic information and helping customers succeed with the ArcGIS system. On a good day I'm making a map, on a great day I'm on one. Email or connect on LinkedIn (


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