Set user-defined zones for point label placement

With the default Best position label placement option, labels can be placed in any of nine zones around or centered on a point. For cartographic consistency, the Maplex Label Engine first tries to place each label to the northeast of the feature. If the label can't be placed there, it tries the north and east zones next, and works its way around the zones until the label is placed. Use the Placement option to set the zone order that the Maplex Label Engine uses.

The Maplex Label Engine attempts to place each feature's label in each zone in the order you specify. You control the search order by ranking the zones on a scale of 1 to 9, where 1 is the first zone to try and 9 is the last zone. You can specify a zone value of 0 to prohibit labels from being in a zone. While multiple zones can be blocked with the 0 rank, the other zones must have unique ranks. When the Maplex Label Engine starts to place the labels, it evaluates the blocked zones and the amount of congestion around the point feature as well as the location of other features and other labels, and places the label in the best available zone.

  1. Ensure the Maplex Label Engine is enabled.
  2. Ensure List By Labeling is the active way of displaying the Contents pane.
  3. Choose a label class in the Contents pane and click the Labeling tab.
  4. On the Labeling tab, in the Label Placement group, click Label Placement Properties Launcher.
  5. In the Labeling pane, click Position and click Position.
  6. Expand Placement.
  7. Choose Best position from the Placement drop-down list.
  8. Type a search order value from 1 to 9 for each zone.

    Each zone should have a unique value from 1 to 9. You can block one or more zones from consideration by typing a search order value of 0 for the zone.