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Text symbols

Text symbols draw labels, annotation, titles, dynamic text, descriptions, callouts, legends, scale bars, and other textual information on a map. A key difference between text symbols and other common symbol types—point, line, and polygon symbols—is that text symbols can have only one layer.

Text symbols control how text looks and can be used as a way to categorize named features. For example, text symbol size can indicate relative population for city name labels. Setting a text symbol can be as easy as choosing a font, size, and color, but you can also work with more advanced text symbol properties to get effects such as balloon callouts, line callouts (with or without leader lines), text inside highway shields or other markers, filled text, halos, and drop shadows.

Tip:
Text properties include options for changing the font, style, formatting, and effects. A label is drawn with text symbols but is derived from feature attributes and has additional properties for placement and conflict detection.

Learn more about changing the text symbol for dynamic labels

Text callouts, with or without leader lines

The most useful types of callouts are balloon callouts and background callouts. Both types have two parts: the border drawn around the text and a leader line that extends from the text to a point on your map. A border serves to separate text visually from other information on your map, while leaders are useful because they allow text to be placed farther away from the feature or area on the map that it references. Balloon callouts always have both a border and leader line, while with background callouts, you have the option to turn the border, leader line, and accent bar on or off.

Leader tolerance

If you're using leader lines, the leader tolerance is the minimum distance between the leader anchor point and text at which the leader line appears. If the distance between the leader anchor point and text is less than the leader tolerance, no leader shows. To change this distance, edit the label offset.

If you're using dynamic labels, the leader anchor point is on the feature being labeled. Decrease the leader tolerance if you want leaders to appear for labels that are relatively close to the features they are labeling. Conversely, increase the leader tolerance if you only want leaders to appear for labels relatively far from the labeled features.

Text inside highway shields or other point symbols

Drawing a point symbol as a background to a text symbol gives a very different effect than drawing a balloon or background callout. Point symbol backgrounds are commonly used to label numbered highways; the symbol can classify the highway type. The symbol can be optionally scaled to match the text string size. This is useful if highways of a similar class have different numbers of digits.

Highway shield text symbol

Examples of common text symbols

The following table shows common text symbols and the properties that can be used for each:

SymbolProperties

Balloon callout

Balloon callout

Text offset 10 points from feature

Leader tolerance set to 0

Balloon callout with a solid fill symbol

Balloon style with rounded corners

Margins set to 2 points

Background callout

Background callout

Text offset 10 points from feature

Leader tolerance set to 0

Background callout with a solid fill and 0.5 point outline

Margins set to 2 points

Tip:
A text symbol with a background is essentially a Background callout without a leader line.

Line callout

Line callout

Text offset 10 points from feature

Leader tolerance set to 0

Background callout with a simple stroke 0.5 point leader line

Mid point leader style

Gap set to 3 points

Tip:
Line callouts can be created with the Simple line callout or the Background callout with only the Leader line symbol used.

Point symbol callout

Point symbol callout

Text offset 10 points from feature

Leader tolerance set to 0

Point symbol is circle with no outline

Point symbol callout scaling width and height

Simple stroke 0.5 point leader line

Mid point leader style

Tip:
Point symbol callouts allow the addition of a leader line.

Halo

Text with halo

Text offset 10 points from feature

Halo size of 1.0

Halo symbol is a solid fill with no outline

Drop shadow

Text with drop shadow

Text offset 10 points from feature

X offset of 1.5

Y offset of -1.5

Tip:
Drop shadows look most natural when they are down and to the right. Use a positive x-value and a negative y-value to achieve this.

Filled text

Text with linear gradient fill

Text offset 10 points from feature

Text fill symbol is a linear gradient fill

Text font size

ArcGIS Pro uses software scalable fonts to display text. This allows the labels and annotation to draw at different map scales while maintaining their display properties. An example of a software scalable font is Arial (Open Type).

When displaying text, the actual height of a text character varies from font to font. A type character is measured from the top of its ascender line to the bottom of its descender line as shown in the following diagram:

Text height

The character cell is a box that surrounds the individual character. If the text character does not occupy the entire height of the character cell, the character appears smaller than the specified point size.

Measure text font size using points

A point is the standard unit of measure for character height and width. Points can be entered in whole and half sizes. The following conversions can be used as a reference guide for point sizes:

Point to Inch Conversion Table

PointsInches

1

0.014

12 (1 pica)

0.166

18

0.250

24

0.332

36

0.500

72 (6 picas)

1.000

Point conversion table

Bold and italic

The availability of bold and italic font styles is shown in both the Font name drop-down list and the Font style drop-down list on the Labeling tab, in the Text Symbol group. Note that some fonts may not have both bold and italic styles, and some fonts may have extended styles.

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