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Work with a legend

Once a legend has been created, you can modify its overall appearance and behavior. To format and change additional properties of the legend, select it on the Contents pane. With the legend selected, the Format tab will appear at the top of the application. On the Format tab, you have the option to make adjustments to the text symbol, alignment, size, and position for the entire legend, or individual legend items, by changing what's selected in the Current Selection group.

To learn about working with individual legend items, see Work with a legend item.

Legend properties

There are additional legend options that can be further modified by opening the Format Legend pane. To do so, right-click the Legend in the Contents pane and click Properties. On the Options tab, you can:

  • Change the name of the legend.
  • Toggle the legend's visibility.
  • Lock the legend so it can no longer be selected on the layout.
  • Choose the map frame the legend references.
  • Change and show the legend's title.
  • Word wrap text in the input field.
  • Show properties for all legend items.
  • Sync fonts when adding items.

To change properties for all the legend items at once, click the Show Properties button. The pane will allow you to change which legend items are shown as well as modify their Arrangement, Sizing, Indentation, and other Feature Display Options. When checked, Sync fonts when adding items automatically updates the font of the legend item to the font that is being used by the legend.

There are also four options to adjust the behavior of the legend based on changes made to the map. Here you can sync:

  • Layer visibility, so the legend only displays layers that are checked on in the Contents pane. If a layer's visibility is turned off, it will automatically be removed from the legend; otherwise, layers will be shown in the legend whether or not they are visible on the map.
  • Layer order, so when the layers in the map are reordered the items in the legend are reordered.
  • New layer, so when a new layer is added to the map a new item is added to the legend.
  • Reference scale, so the symbols scale based on the map's reference scale. This will match the size of line and point symbols in the legend to the size of line and point symbols on the map. Without a reference scale set, the size of symbols in the map and the legend will remain constant.

Legend arrangement

The options for legend arrangement allow you to modify the Fitting Strategy, Sizing, and the Gaps between various legend element items.

Fitting Strategy

By default, legend items will take up the entire frame. Legend items will grow or shrink as you resize the legend frame, and the frame will grow or shrink when legend items are added or removed.

The following fitting strategies change the behavior of the legend and its items:

  • Adjust font size—Adjusts the legend to fit the frame by reducing the font size as needed. Items that do not fit are dropped from the legend.
  • Adjust columns—Adjusts the legend to fit the frame by flowing items to new columns as needed. Items that do not fit are dropped from the legend. When selected, an additional option to Set equal widths is available to set each column to the same width.
  • Adjust frame—Adjusts the frame to fit the legend. If the Adjust frame option is selected, the frame size is auto-adjusted to fit legend items as they are added or removed.
  • Adjust columns and font size—Arranges the legend items to fit the frame. If necessary, reduce the size of the items so they fit. Items that do not fit are dropped from the legend. When Adjust columns and font size is selected, an additional option to Set equal widths is available to set each column to the same width.

The fitting strategies that adjust font size include an option to specify the Minimum font size threshold so as the legend is adjusted the font size will never be smaller than the size you have specified.

Note:

If part of a legend item does not fit at the end, the entire legend item will be dropped from the legend. For example, if a legend item contains 15 classes but only 10 classes fit, the entire item will be dropped. At this point the legend will stop trying to add items even if another legend item later in the list will fit. Keep this in mind when ordering your legend items. If any items have been dropped from the legend, the following symbol will appear Overflow.

When fitting the legend into the frame, column settings for individual legend items will be respected unless Adjust columns has been selected as the fitting strategy. With Adjust columns selected, column settings for individual items will be overridden and a new column will be made whenever the entire height of the legend frame is taken up.

If Adjust font size is selected, legend contents will shrink in an attempt to fit more items on the legend until a minimum font size is hit. Once this font size is hit by any legend text item, the legend will begin dropping legend items that do not fit.

When a border, background, or drop shadow are added to a legend with Adjust frame selected, they will resize to surround the legend items and not the frame.

Word Wrapping

You can enable text wrapping on labels and descriptions by checking their respective boxes and setting maximum width values. The label and description widths will be used along with patch and gap measurements to set your total column width. If a column does not have labels or descriptions, the label and description widths will not be added to the total width of those columns. Text will wrap after it reaches the limit using standard character breaks. If a piece of text doesn't fit, it will be truncated with an ellipsis. The measurements you set for description and label width will remain constant even if you resize the legend frame. They will not adjust proportionately like other measurements.

Note:

When either label or description wrapping is enabled, wrapping is automatically enabled for headings and layer names, too. They will wrap to the total width of the item. Legend titles will also wrap to the total width of all the columns.

Spacing

Gaps allow you to specify the vertical and horizontal spacing between legend elements. The following options can be adjusted by changing their point value:

  • Categories, refers to the gap between symbology categories; from the bottom of last category to the top of next category heading.
  • Classes, refers to the gap between legend classes.
  • Columns, refers to the gap between each column.
  • Group Layer and item below, refers to the vertical gap below the group layer name.
  • Headings and Classes, refers to the gap between the category heading and the legend classes.
  • Items, refers to the gap between legend items.
  • Labels and Descriptions, refers to the gap between labels and descriptions.
  • Layer Name and Item below, refers to the gap below layer names.
  • Patch and Text, refers to the gap between the patch and its label or description.
  • Title and Items, refers to the gap between the title and the legend items.

After applying these values, the legend will resize to meet them. However, if you resize the legend afterwards the values will adjust accordingly.

Update the referenced map frame

If you have multiple map frames on a layout, you can change the map frame the legend references. When the map frame referenced by the legend is changed, the legend updates to contain all applicable layers on the map contained in the newly referenced map frame.

  1. In the Contents pane, right-click the legend and choose Properties from the context menu.

    The Format Legend pane appears.

  2. In the Format Legend pane, if necessary, expand Legend.
  3. Use the Map Frame drop-down menu to choose a different map frame.

Add, remove, and reorder legend items

After a legend has been created, you can remove or add any applicable legend items from the associated map. You will find a list of all possible legend items on the Contents pane. Checking a legend item adds it to the legend and un-checking a legend item removes it.

You can also remove a legend item by right-clicking it in the Contents pane and selecting Remove.

Note:

Legend item is the term used for layers once they have been added to your legend.

To reorder legend items, you can drag-and-drop them in the Contents pane after expanding the legend.

Change a legend's resize behavior

A legend's resize behavior controls how legend items fill the bounding box. The only options currently available are Adjust columns and Adjust columns and font size.

When Adjust columns is selected, legend items maintain their size when the bounding box is resized but will form columns as necessary.

When Adjust columns and font size is selected, legend items attempt to maintain their size when the bounding box is resized. However, if all items still do not fit after adjusting the column formation, legend font sizes and patch sizes start to shrink to fit.

If legend items fail to fit inside the given bounding box, an overflow icon draws inside the legend. This indicates that legend items have been dropped and will not appear on print or export.

Update legend patch size

You can set the default legend patch size by right-clicking the legend item in the Contents pane and choosing Properties. In the Format Legend pane, you can change the size for Patch Width and Patch Height.

Add and modify a title

To add or modify the legend title, right-click the legend in the Contents pane and choose Properties. Legend title settings can be found under Options in the Format Legend pane. To display a title, expand Legend, and check Show. Edit the text for the title in the text input box.

To remove the title, uncheck Show.

Format a legend

When the legend is selected in the Contents pane, formatting options can be accessed on the Format tab. Here, you can format legend fonts and add a background, border, or shadow.

Font symbol changes made to the legend apply to all items within the legend. For example, if you have the legend selected and change the font color, that font color applies to all text in the legend—including the title and all layer names, headings, labels, and descriptions.

You can also select a specific piece of the legend to work only with its settings.

The following example walks you through updating the font for all text in the legend, making only legend item headings bold, and adding a border with an offset.

  1. With the legend selected, click the Format tab.
  2. In the Current Selection group, verify that Legend is selected.
  3. In the Text Symbol group, choose a new font.

    Notice that it is applied to all the text in the legend.

  4. Go back to the Current Selection group, expand the selection drop-down menu, and choose Headings.
  5. In the Text Symbol group, set Bold as the font style.

    Any legend item heading will now be bold.

  6. Go back to the Current Selection group, expand the selection drop-down menu, and choose Border.
  7. In the Border group, choose a style item from the gallery.

    The legend will now have a border.

  8. If the Format Legend pane is not already open, right-click the legend in the Contents pane and choose Text Symbol.

    The Format Legend pane stays in sync with the current selection on the Format tab, so the advanced symbol properties for the border should already be available.

  9. In the pane, expand Position, change the value(s), and click Apply.

    The border now draws offset from the legend frame.

To learn more about using the Format tab, see Add and modify graphics and text.

To learn more about working with individual legend items, see Work with a legend item.

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