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Pro Map Text IV: Layout Text

Welcome to the final installment of the Pro Map Text series. So far we’ve covered these topics:

But you can still follow along with this tutorial if you haven’t read the others.

Today we’ll finish the map with layout text. This is the easiest part. It’s just graphic text on your final map that isn’t associated with data layers. It’s for stuff like the title, credits, legends, scale bar, and descriptive paragraphs.

In Darwin.ppkx, open the tab named Layout.

This layout has two maps in it: Map Frame 1 is the main map of the Darwin region. Map Frame 2 is the key map of Australia, sitting transparently on top.

Map Frame 1 contains the main map while Map Frame 2 contains the locator map

Normally, the first thing I’d do is add is a title. But I think that this map is pretty self-explanatory. The title would just say Darwin, Australia, which is already displayed prominently via labels. The first rule of map layouts is to not add anything that isn’t necessary.

I do want to add some text to the key map. I’m worried that it’s not clear that the little box sitting on top of Australia represents the map area.

On the ribbon, click the Insert tab. This is where you’ll find anything that you want to add to a layout, from photos to graticules. Click the Text button, which is currently in Rectangle mode.

Rectangle text button on the ribbon

Drag a rectangle on the layout near the keymap locator box.

Text box next to locator map with text highlighted for editing

Type map area.

If necessary, double-click the Text element in the Contents pane to open the Format Text pane. Here you can adjust the Text Symbol properties to match the rest of the map.

Properties for map area text are set to Century Gothic Bold 7pt white

If you now drag either of the maps around, you’ll find that the map area text stays in place on the page, while all the other text moves with the map.

Moving the locator map over the main map

That’s what makes layout text different from labels and annotation. It belongs to the layout, not the map.

There is some other text on the layout already. It’s the credits for the imagery basemap.

Service layer credits at the bottom of the map

And wow, are they ever hard to read. But don’t worry, you can convert this text into something nice that matches the formatting of the rest of the map.

On the ribbon, click the Insert tab and click Dynamic Text. Scroll down in the menu and choose Service Layer Credits.

Service Layer Credits option in the Dynamic Text gallery

Draw a rectangle somewhere on the map where you’d like the credits to go, and watch the text disappear from the bottom of your map and reappear in your chosen spot. You can’t change what it says, but you can edit how it appears.

In the Format Text pane, navigate to Text Symbol, Properties, and General to update font properties.

Text Symbol properties set to Century Gothic Regular 6pt white

Much better, no?

Source credits text in white next to the locator map

But there are more data sources that you need to cite than just the basemap.

In the Format Text pane, navigate to Text and then Options. Inside the text editing box there is a tag for the existing dynamic text.

Service Layer Credits shown as a tag in the Text box

Place your cursor in front of the dynamic text and paste

Feature Data Source: Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia) and Natural Earth (naturalearthdata.com)


You can also add stuff like Cartography: Your Name, Date if you like.

And you can add text formatting tags to make this block of text easier to read. I used <BOL></BOL> to bold some words.

tags surrounding some text
Final formatted credits text on the map

Next, you can add a scale bar.

On the Insert tab of the ribbon, click the bottom part of the Scale Bar button. Choose Single Division Scale Bar from the Metric list.

Single Division Scale Bar in the Metric scale bar gallery

Drag a rectangle on the layout to add your new scale bar.

Default scale bar on the map with black text

Tip: If your scale bar says something like 2,000 kilometers, it’s referring to the key map instead of the main map. You can fix this problem in the Format Scale Bar pane by changing the Map frame to Map Frame 1.

Map Frame 1 in the Scale Bar Map frame menu

On the ribbon, experiment with the options on the Format and Design tabs to customize the scale bar until it looks just the way you like.

Format and Design tabs for Scale Bars on the ribbon

You can refer to the settings I used in the Finished Layout if you want it to look like this:

Finished scale bar in white

You can add a north arrow in the same way.

Completed locator map and surrounding text

And there it is! A finished map—with label classes converted into annotation, enhanced with masks, and topped off with a bit of graphic layout text.

Completed map of Darwin, Australia

I hope that if you’ve been intimidated by map text in the past, you can now move forward with confidence and build some truly beautifully labeled maps! Remember that conventions aren’t rules, that compromises will have to be made, and that research can be fun.

If you want to learn how text fits into the broader cartographic process, check out Cartographic Creations in ArcGIS Pro, or Map-making, step by step.

About the author

Heather is a cartographer and artist who mixes both practices to express and understand landscapes. She writes and edits lessons for the Learn ArcGIS website. View more of her work at www.heathergabrielsmith.ca


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