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Add and modify grids

A grid is a network of evenly spaced horizontal and vertical lines used to identify locations on a map. You can use grids, measured or Military Grid Reference System (MGRS), to display measured locations using projected coordinates. For example, you can create a grid on a map frame depicting a 10,000-meter grid using the universal transverse Mercator (UTM) coordinate system.

Grids from existing ArcMap documents (.mxd files) can be imported into ArcGIS Pro and further modified. For example, display of the grid lines, ticks, and labels can be rearranged, and their appearance can be altered as well.

Import map documents with grids

If the layout in your ArcMap document (.mxd) contains a map with a grid, the grid will be included when you import the document to ArcGIS Pro.

  1. On the Insert tab, in the Project group, click Import Map Import Map.
  2. On the Import dialog box, browse to the ArcMap document (.mxd) and click OK.

The lines, ticks, hatches, and coordinate labels of the grids are displayed on the layout. Grids and their components can be accessed in the Contents pane by right-clicking the name of the grid under Grids and clicking Properties.

Add grids

Grids can be added to map frames and modified to meet your requirements.

  1. On the Insert tab, in the Map Frames group, click Grid Grid and select a grid (measured or MGRS) from the gallery.
  2. To modify the grid, in the Contents pane, expand the map frame, right-click the grid, and click Properties.

Modify grid properties

In the Format Map Grid pane, the following Options for the grid can be set:

  • Name—Change the name and how it appears in the Contents pane.
  • Visible—Control the visibility display for the grid on the layout.
  • Interval—Automatically adjust the grid intervals based on scale.
  • Origin—Specify a custom coordinate origin of x and y for the grid.
  • Coordinate System—Choose the grid's coordinate system or use one from an existing layer.
  • Clip to UTM zone boundary—Remove coordinates outside the UTM zone boundary.
  • Neatline—Adjust the symbol for the border defining the geographic data extent of the map.
  • Define map grid edges—Specify the edges and corners of the map frame for detailed labeling.
  • Preview edges and corners—Show where the defined edges and corners are on the map frame.

The map frame border is often coincident with the grid neatline. To avoid an overlap, adjust the symbology for the border.

Each grid in a map can only have one coordinate system. Clip to UTM zone boundary allows you to create maps spanning multiple UTM zones without using grid accuracy. To do so, you need to create a separate grid for each UTM zone.

Clip to UTM zone boundary is only enabled if the grid is set to a UTM coordinate system. If Clip to UTM zone boundary is not enabled, you can change the grid to a UTM coordinate system using the Coordinate System drop-down menu.

Map grid edges are used for precise control of label, tick, and corner visibility on the grid, allowing you to turn these components on or off for each edge. By default every vertex of a map frame is a corner, and every line connecting two vertices is an edge. For complex map frames you can reduce the number of edges and corners by changing these definitions. Setting the Minimum length parameter will combine edges shorter than the value into one longer edge, eliminating the edges and corners in between.

The Components tab Components allows you to add, remove, reorder, and modify the individual components that make up the grid. The Appearance option of each component can also be altered by choosing an Offset value and modifying the Symbol. Other component-specific properties can also be set. The components for grids are as follows:

  • Gridlines—Lines that comprise the grid
  • Ticks—Linear marks at the edge of the grid
  • Labels—Text showing grid coordinates at a specific interval, drawn outside the grid
  • Corner Labels—Text showing grid coordinates at grid vertices
  • Intersection Points—Points showing where grid lines cross
  • 100,000m Grid Zone Labels—Text showing the two-letter MGRS 100,000m square identifier
  • Interior Labels—Text showing grid coordinates at a specific interval, drawn inside the grid


100,000-meter grid zone labels only exist for UTM coordinate systems and are only available if the grid is set to a UTM coordinate system. If the grid's coordinate system is changed to a coordinate system other than UTM, any existing 100,000-meter grid zone labels are removed.

Uncheck Automatically adjust on the Options tab Properties to change the Interval values of x and y for the Gridlines, Ticks, Intersection Points, Interior Labels, and Corner Labels.

Ticks and labels can be shown on the grid for the cardinal points of the map by checking or unchecking each direction. Alternatively, by checking Define map grid edges on the Options tab Properties, you can show ticks and labels for the cardinal points of the map per map frame edge. For example, if the top edge of your grid was showing both North and East labels, you could select the top edge and then uncheck East. The East labels would turn off for the top edge, while continuing to display on the other edges. If you had not defined map grid edges, unchecking East would turn off all East labels. To see the edges, check Show edge visibility indicators, and numbered buttons will appear on each edge. You can select an edge by clicking the button or by choosing the corresponding number from the list in the pane.

Corner labels show the coordinates of a grid vertex. They can be shown for each corner in the map frame or for only selected corners. Setting Interval to 0,0 for Corner Labels places the labels on the exact corner of the map frame, and increasing the interval sets the label outside of the grid vertex. Every corner label has two values that make up the coordinate. One or both of these can be displayed by checking or unchecking North-South and East-West. By default every vertex of the map frame is considered a corner. If the number of corners is too high to work with, check Define map grid edges on the Options tab Properties and increase the Minimum length value to reduce the number of corners. To see the corners, check Show corner visibility indicators, and numbered buttons will appear on each corner. You can select a corner by clicking the button or by choosing the corresponding number from the list in the pane.


For corner labels where the interval has been defined, if the angle of the grid lines is nonperpendicular or nonparallel to the edge of the map frame, there will be multiple corner labels per vertex. Circles, ellipses, and map frames created with the Lasso option only have one corner label because the map frame is defined as one edge.

Interior labels, by default, are placed in the middle of the grid line. By choosing 1/2 1/2, 1/3 1/3, or 1/4 1/4 under Positioning, you are changing the placement of labels on the grid. The spacing between the number and the grid line can be increased or decreased using the increments of the X & Y Gaps option.

If you want precise control over each grid item on the layout, you can right-click the grid and use Convert To Graphics. Once converted, the grid appears as a grouped element in the Contents pane. To make changes to one or several grid graphics, expand the grouped element and select the text, line, or lasso graphic. Changes to each graphic can be made in its respective Format pane.


To cancel the drawing of a highly dense grid, turn the grid off in the table of contents.

MGRS labels

To add 100,000-meter grid zone labels to the grid, the grid's projected coordinate system needs to be changed to a UTM zone. To do this, in the Contents pane, right-click the grid and click Properties. In the Format Map Grid pane, on the Options tab, click Choose the grid's coordinate system Coordinate System. For best results, set the scale of the map to be larger than 1:100,000. If the scale is below 100,000, offsets may need to be adjusted so the labels appear.

If the scale is properly set and the labels are still not displaying, consider changing their positioning. In the Format Map Grid pane, on the Components tab Components, select the labels, and under Appearance, change the Positioning value.

Format labels with tags

Labels are formatted by using tags to change their display. You can add multiple labels and format them differently.

  1. In the Contents pane, if necessary, expand the map frame, right-click the grid, and click Properties.
  2. In the Format Map Grid pane, click the Components tab Components, and select Labels.
  3. In the Format text box, you can modify your labels using tags.

    Designate how many digits of the total place value to display. This includes the place value itself.

    For example, if 7,654,321 with the label <dyn type="grid" placeValue="1000.left" digits="3"/> starts at the thousands place (4) and includes all values to the left of this value until there are three total digits, the result would be 654.

    The digits tag is ignored when using placeValue.right.




    Can be appended to the place value to designate the digits displayed in the label. If you want all the digits to the left of the thousands to use .left, use placeValue="1000.left". The result also includes the thousands place value.

    For example, placeValue="1000.left" for 7,654,321 would result in 7654.

    .right does not include the placeValue digit. Therefore, placeValue="1000.right" for 7,654,321 would result in 321.


    Place value refers to the numbers in each grid label. For example, for placeValue=10000, you are displaying five place values of the full grid label.

    For example, placeValue="10000" for the grid label 7,654,321 refers to the ten thousands place, the result being 5.

    If you want to display the value at the specified place value, include a tag for digits: <dyn type="grid" placeValue="10000" digits="1"/>


    Place a comma between thousands.




    Units can be designated by feet or meters.


    Align the label component to the topmost or bottommost extent of the label as a whole. This is useful when your label has multiple components of varying sizes. Include this tag for each part of the label you want to align.


    Display cardinal direction at the end and adjacent to the value. With this tag, there is no space between the value and the character signifying direction. If you want a space between the value and the direction, use cardinalDir="True".

    If you want to display a negative sign for the West and South values, use showDirections="False".

    If you do not want either an adjacent cardinal direction or a negative sign, use showDirections="None".


    Display the cardinal direction as a separate element of the label. This enables you to format the cardinal direction differently than the numerical part of the label and allows for a space between the number and the direction.

    Since there are two tags that can specify direction, showDirections and cardinalDir, and the default setting for showDirections is true, you may need to specify the showDirections tag when using cardinalDir.

    For example, specifying showDirections="None" places the direction at the end of the number with a space between them.

    If you do not include showDirections in the label or specify showDirections="True", and have also used cardinalDir, two direction values for each value are displayed.

Used together, the placeValue, left, right, and digits tags can specify parts of the label to be displayed. If the grid label displays as 123,456,789, the following assemblage of tags provides you with specific results:

<dyn type="grid" placeValue="1000" digits="1"/>


<dyn type="grid" placeValue="1000" digits="2"/>


<dyn type="grid" placeValue="1000.right"/>


<dyn type="grid" placeValue="10000.left"/>


The following examples illustrate the use of the tags:

Example 1: <dyn type="grid" showDirections="False" separator="True"/>

Label example with thousands separator

Example 2: <dyn type="grid" showDirections="none" placeValue="1000000" digits="1"/><FNT size="10"><BOL><dyn type="grid" placeValue="10000" digits="2" vAlign="top"/><BOL></FNT>

Label example with first digit in superscript

Example 3: <FNT name='Arial' size='8'><BOL><CLR red='168' green='0' blue='0' alpha='255'><dyn type="grid" showDirections="False" separator="False" placeValue="10000" digits="3"/></CLR></BOL></FNT><FNT name='Arial' size='5'><CLR red='178' green='178' blue='178' alpha='255'><dyn type="grid" vAlign="top" placeValue="10000.right" decimalPlaces="0" /></CLR></FNT>

Label example with last three digits in superscript

Example 4: <dyn type="grid" showDirections="none" placeValue="1000000" digits="1"/><FNT size="12"><BOL><dyn type="grid" placeValue="10000" digits="2" vAlign="top"/><BOL></FNT><dyn type="grid" placeValue="10000.right" vAlign="top"/>m.<FNT size="10"><BOL><dyn type="grid" cardinalDir="True" vAlign="top"/></BOL></FNT>

Label example with superscript and direction

To learn more about tags, see Modify dynamic text.

Format the symbol of each component

The appearance of each grid component can be formatted as with any other symbol or text.

  1. In the Contents pane, expand the map frame and select the grid.

    The Format contextual tab appears at the top of the application.

  2. On the Format tab, in the Current Selection group, choose the individual component to modify from the drop-down menu.

    Depending on the selection, you can change the symbol or text symbol.

  3. To make detailed changes to components of the grid, in the Contents pane, right-click the grid and click Properties.

    The Format Map Grid pane appears.

  4. In the Format Map Grid pane, on the Components tab Components, under Appearance, you can further modify the symbol.

Save to a style

Customized grids can be saved as styles for later use.

  1. In the Contents pane, right-click the grid and click Save to Style.
  2. Provide entries for Name, Category, and Tags and click OK.

For more information, see Styles.

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