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Using images as custom point symbols

(Note: This functionality is currently only supported in Map Viewer Classic).

When changing point symbols, you’ll find many different ones to choose from organized into categories. In addition to these built-in symbols, you can use any hosted image as a custom symbol.

You can open the sample web map in Map Viewer Classic to follow along with the steps below. You can also use an existing web map with a point feature layer, make sure you open it in Map Viewer Classic.


Use an existing image

To use an image as a custom symbol, follow these steps.

Step 1 — Open the sample web map. If you are not signed in, click Modify Map or Sign In to follow along. You can also use your own existing web map with a point feature layer, make sure you open it in Map Viewer Classic.

Step 2 — Find an image file at a URL location.

Locate the symbol you want to use, and copy the URL. The symbol must be at a URL location and should point directly to the source image. For best results, use a square PNG, GIF, or JPG file 120 x 120 pixels or less. Larger images will be adjusted to fit.

Tip: use a PNG or GIF with a transparent background if your symbol does not fill the square to avoid unwanted white space.

In this example, the following custom symbol will be used. Click the image below to view it, then copy the URL.

custom symbol
View image

Step 3 — Change the layer style. Make sure Content is selected, and click Change Style.

Change style

Step 4 — Click options.

Ensure that Show location only is selected, then click Options.

Symbol options

Step 5 — Click Symbols.

Change symbols

Step 6 — Choose any symbol category, then click Use an Image.

Use an image

Step 7 — In the Use an Image input box, paste the URL obtained in Step 2 above.

Enter image URL

Step 8 — Adjust the symbol size as desired. Use the slider to set the size, then click OK.

Set size

Step 9 — Click OK once more to save your symbol changes.

Your custom symbols will now display on the map.

Custom symbols

Note: When using custom symbols ensure that the URL to the symbol does not change and the symbol is not deleted.


Create your own symbol

You can create and host your own image to use as a custom symbol. Symbols can be authored using any graphics program. Use a PNG or GIF for a transparent background (PNG is recommended).

Something to consider is that the center of the image is placed on the x,y point location. For example, the symbol below will be placed with its center (where the dashed lines cross) on the x,y location of the point on the map.

Image center

To place the bottom tip of the symbol on the x,y location, create a symbol as shown below, placing the tip of the “tail” at the center of the image.

Image center


More information

For more information, see Style location (Map Viewer Classic).

This post was originally published on August 26, 2016, 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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