Map notes

Map notes are graphical notations on a map or scene. The notations may be permanent additions or temporary items used in quality control or other review communications.

When added to a map or scene, map notes become individual spatial features in a map, so they remain positioned relative to other map data regardless of coordinate system.


Map notes are similar to graphics layers because both are used to notate maps. However, map notes are edited and saved as geodatabase feature classes for each geometry type. This allows map notes to carry attributes.

Graphics layers contain all kinds of geometry types in one layer, but the layer is saved with the project file. Graphic elements cannot have attributes and cannot be saved in a geodatabase.

Map notes are provided in a variety of color collections to be visible over a variety of map backgrounds. There are circles and pushpins to define unique locations, lines and arrows, semitransparent polygons, and different scales of text. You can change the symbols or their colors as necessary.

Add map notes to a map or scene

To add map notes to your map or scene, complete the following steps:

  1. In a map or scene, on the Insert tab, in the Layer Templates group, choose a map note set from the gallery. In the case of text map notes, choose the appropriate scale for your map—1:1,000, 1:25,000, or 1:250,000.

    A new layer to contain the map notes is added to the Contents pane. For the map notes shown in the gallery with a pushpin next to a color scheme, three group layers are added: one each for point, line, and polygon note.


    If working in a scene, to ensure proper drawing, place line and polygon map notes under the 2D Layers heading in the Contents pane.

  2. On the Edit tab in the Features group, click Create Create Features.

    The Create Features pane appears.

  3. In the Create Features pane, choose a feature to add.
  4. Click the Active Template arrow Open Task to open the active template.
  5. When creating a point, line, or polygon map note, type a name for the note and any additional information in the Notes field. When creating a text map note, specify the text for the note.

    If a name is specified for point, line, and polygon map notes, they are labeled with the contents of the Name field. You can change the label style or the field. On the Feature Layer tab set, click the Labeling tab. In the Layer group, click Label Enable Labeling to control whether labels are drawn. To learn more, see Labeling basics.

  6. Optionally, in the Create Features pane, choose a construction method to add notes directly into the map or scene. See Create point and multipoint features or Create annotation features.

Review map notes

Explore the notation associated with map notes in a map or scene.

  1. On the Map tab, in the Navigate group, click Explore Explore Tool.
  2. Use this tool to click a map note feature and view its pop-up.

    The pop-up menu contains the name and note information associated with each, if applicable.

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