ArcGIS Pro

Experiments with line symbology I - Simplicity

In this first (of four) short blogs I’ll be experimenting with the basics of symbolising line features. It might seem simple, and it often is when you only have a single non-overlapping line to symbolise, but what if you have multiple coincident lines? Then the problem becomes more complicated but simplicity remains the key for clarity.

During our time working at home during the pandemic, I used a GPS receiver to capture all of the morning and evening walks we enjoyed with our dog, Wisley. In total, that’s 730 routes captured, and using ArcGIS Pro there’s a multitude of ways to slice and dice the routes, and ways in which we can symbolise them.

In this first short video I explore how we might symbolise each line so they stack into a coherent whole. I also emphasise how definition queries remain a great way of highlighting certain aspects of data, which we can symbolise using different colours (hues) that relate to the selection.

In the second, third, and fourth blogs I’ll be returning to this dataset to explore different ways of symbolising lines.

Until then, happy mapping!

About the author

Ken is an academic cartographer and geographer from the UK, and since 2011 he teaches, talks and writes about cartography, and makes maps to demonstrate map design at Esri. He considers himself a professional 'cartonerd', educated with a Bachelors in cartography and a PhD in GIS and health geography, and over 30 years experience designing curricula, and teaching map design and GIS. He has presented and published an awful lot and is in demand as a panelist and keynote. He blogs (, tweets (@kennethfield), is past Editor of The Cartographic Journal (2005–2014), and past Chair of the ICA Map Design Commission ( 2010-2018). He’s won a few awards for maps, pedagogy and kitchen tile designs. He is author of the best-selling books 'Cartography.' and 'Thematic Mapping' and leads the Esri MOOC on cartography which has been taken by over 200,000 students interested in making better maps. He snowboards, plays drums, builds Lego and supports Nottingham Forest.


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