Add graphics, text, and pictures in a layout

Graphics, text, and pictures can be added to create a complete layout.


These instructions are for adding graphics to a layout. To add graphics to a map, see Add graphics layer.

To add graphics, text, or pictures to your layout choose an element from the Graphics and Text gallery on the Layout ribbon. The following elements are available:

Element typeDescription

Rectangle text Rectangle text

Text in a rectangle. Rectangle text preserves the set font size and automatically wraps long text to new lines.

Polygon text New Polygon Paragraph

Text in a polygon shape you draw. Polygon text preserves the set font size and automatically wraps long text to new lines.

Circle text New Circle Paragraph

Text in a circle. Circle text preserves the set font size and automatically wraps long text to new lines.

Ellipse text New Ellipse Paragraph

Text in an ellipse. Ellipse text preserves the set font size and automatically wraps long text to new lines.

Straight text New Text

Text in a straight line. The font size automatically increases or decreases as the element is resized. Set line breaks in the text are honored, but text does not wrap to new lines.

Curved text Curved Text

Text on a curved line. Curved text preserves the set font size. Line breaks and word wrapping are not supported.

Point Point

A graphic point symbol.

Picture New Picture

A picture. Selecting this element brings up the Insert Picture window where you can browse to a picture file. Single click to add the picture at its original size, or draw a rectangle to set the picture size.

After a picture has been added, it is stored with the project and loses the connection to the original image file. If the source picture file is updated, all projects using that picture file must be manually updated to see the change.

Rectangle New Rectangle

A graphic rectangle.

Polygon New Polygon

A graphic polygon created by drawing connected line segments.

Circle New Circle

A graphic circle. When you draw the circle, click where you want the center to be and then drag to size the circle.

Ellipse New Ellipse

A graphic ellipse, similar to a circle but the vertical radius is longer than the horizontal radius or vice versa.

Lasso New Lasso Area

A graphic shape created by drawing a freehand sketch.

Curved line New Curve

A curved line created by drawing a Bezier curve.

Freehand line New Lasso

A line created by a freehand sketch.

Line New Line

A line made of straight segments.


Dynamic text elements that update automatically can also be added to your layout. To learn more about dynamic text, see What is dynamic text? and Add dynamic text.

Keep last tool active

By default, after you add a graphic, text, or a picture to the layout, the application switches to selection mode so you can modify your graphic. If you plan to add more than one of each element to the layout, you can choose to keep the last tool active and continue adding graphics, text, pictures, or other layout elements rather than switching to selection mode.

To keep the last tool active, expand the Graphics and Text gallery on the Layout ribbon and choose Keep last tool active. Now, when you add an element, the tool remains active and you can continue adding the element.

Default symbol

Text, lines, polygons, and points are added using a default symbol. After adding the elements, they can be modified and the symbol changed. To set the default symbol for each element type, see Set the default properties for graphic elements.

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