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Profile graph

Available with 3D Analyst license.

Profile graphs allow you to visualize elevation change over a continuous distance using 3D line geometry. Visualizing elevation change with a profile graph allows for the elevation change to be displayed simultaneously for multiple 3D line features.

You can make a profile graph for any 3D line layer in the Contents pane. To learn how to create a profile graph, see Make a chart.

  • The profile graph can be viewed without an ArcGIS 3D Analyst extension license, but the creation of a profile graph requires an ArcGIS 3D Analyst extension license.

  • A maximum of 20 lines will be graphed. If there are more than 20 line features in the layer, you must select at least one and at most 20 of these features, and only the selected features will be graphed. If there are 20 or fewer features, you can optionally select one or more of them to specify those to be graphed.

  • Features that are hidden due to a definition query or other such filters are not counted in the above-mentioned numbers and are not graphed.
  • Once you create a profile graph. you can neither add nor remove lines from that particular graph. You can change the lines that are displayed in the graph using the graph selection/extent filter, and you can toggle an individual line between visible and hidden features by clicking its corresponding dot in the graph's legend. However, the lines in the graph will always be a subset of the original lines used to build the graph. If you want to graph a different set of lines, you must create a new profile graph.


Profile graphs consist of continuous horizontal distance on the x-axis and elevation on the y-axis. The horizontal distance refers to the distance from the beginning of each 3D line when projected onto an imaginary horizontal plane, measured along the line. This applies whether or not all vertices are collinear in this horizontal projection.

The units of measure used for the horizontal and vertical axes are displayed in drop-down menus on the Format tab in the Chart pane. When the profile graph is first created, its unit of measure is set to that of the dataset, defaulting to meters if a unit is not found. After the profile graph is created, you can select different units from the drop-down menus, and the profile graph and the axes will be redrawn accordingly.


Titles and description

The default profile graph title is based on the name of the feature layer being graphed. The title and axis labels can be edited on the General tab in the Chart pane. You can also provide a chart Description, which is a block of text that appears at the bottom of the Chart pane. To access the Chart pane, click the Properties button in the upper-left corner of the profile graph.


The color of each line in the profile graph will be the same as the color of the line in the map display. If the current renderer is Single Symbol, all lines will be the same color. You can change the renderer to Unique Value to potentially have different colors for different lines.


The legend displays one dot for each line in the profile graph, using the same color as the line. Next to each dot is a number, which is the OBJECTID/FEATUREID/OID of the point.


You can select a line by clicking any of the following:

  • The line in the map display
  • The row in the line layer's attribute table
  • The line in the profile graph
  • The legend item in the profile graph
Only one line in the profile graph can be selected at a time; selecting a second line will deselect the line that was previously selected. Selecting a line in any of the above-described places will cause it to appear selected in all four places.

The first click on the legend item will cause the line to disappear from the profile graph, but a second click on the same legend item will cause the line to reappear.


The example below depicts a profile graph that displays elevation change over the length of the input 3D lines.

  • X-Axis—Horizontal distance
  • Y-Axis—Elevation

The legend can be turned on and off using the toggle button in the upper-right corner of the profile graph.

Profile graph example
In this topic
  1. Axes
  2. Appearance
  3. Example