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Author a custom basemap

A basemap is a map used for locational reference and provides a framework on which you overlay operational layers, perform tasks, and visualize geographic information. Basemaps provide the context for your work.

A basemap is built from multiple layers. Authoring custom basemaps is conceptually the same as authoring maps, with the exception that you can define reference and background layers. Reference layers draw on top of your operational layers, while background layers draw below your operational layers. For example, you may include set transportation, hydrology, and place-names as reference layers, while terrain is a background layer.

Basemaps tend to be relatively static and in a typical setting, are updated on an infrequent basis. In addition, basemaps are often designed to be used at multiple map scales, so the basemap portrays appropriate content at each range of map scales.

Basemaps can contain feature, raster, or web layers. When you create a basemap in a project, the basemap can be used by other maps in the project from the Basemap gallery.

  1. On the Insert tab, in the Project group, click New Basemap New Basemap. If New Basemap is not visible, first click the New Map or New Scene drop-down list.
  2. A new blank map view opens. You can now add layers to it.
  3. On the Map tab, in the Layer group, click Add Data Add Data and browse to your data. You can also drag content on to the map from the Catalog pane.
  4. Set the layers as reference and background. Right-click a layer and click Set As Reference Layer to make all layers above that layer reference layers, and all layers below it as background layers.