Skip To Content

Create annotation feature classes

There are two kinds of annotation that can be in a geodatabase: standard annotation and feature-linked annotation.

Standard annotation features are not formally associated with features in the geodatabase. An example of standard annotation is the text on a map for a mountain range. No specific feature represents the mountain range, but it is an area you want to mark with text.

Feature-linked annotation features are associated with specific features in another feature class in the geodatabase. The text in feature-linked annotation reflects the value of a field or fields from the feature to which it's linked, or an expression derived from fields. For example, the water transmission mains in a water network can be annotated with their names, which are stored in a field in the transmission mains feature class.

Learn more about the different kinds of annotation

License:

You can create feature-linked annotation only with ArcGIS Desktop Standard and ArcGIS Desktop Advanced licenses.

You can create an empty annotation feature class and create the annotation for it later, or you can create an annotation feature class with annotation by converting labels to annotation. When you create an empty annotation feature class in the Create Feature Class wizard, you specify the annotation classes for it.

When creating an annotation feature class in a feature dataset, the annotation feature class must use the same spatial reference that was defined when the feature dataset was created.

Create a new standard annotation feature class

Follow these steps to create a new standard annotation feature class:

  1. Create a new standard annotation feature class in the Catalog view. Open the Create Feature Class wizard by double-clicking a geodatabase and then clicking New > Feature Class in the Create group on the Catalog ribbon. This opens the Create Feature Class wizard. You can also create new annotation feature classes in the Catalog pane. Right-click the geodatabase or feature dataset in which you want to create the new standard annotation feature class and click New > Feature Class. This opens the Create Feature Class wizard.
  2. On the Define page of the wizard, type a name for the feature class in the Name text box. To create an alias for this feature class, type one in the Alias text box.
  3. From the Feature Class Type drop-down list, set the type of features that will be stored in this feature class as Annotation and click Next.
  4. On the Fields page of the wizard, you can add fields to the feature class. To add a field to the feature class, click the Click here to add a new field option in the final row. A new row is added to the list of fields. Type a name in the Field Name column, set a data type in the Data Type column, and then click Next.

    By default, several fields are added to an annotation feature class. Some of these are required, whereas others are optional. If you don't require the optional fields, you can delete them now, or delete them from the Fields view after you've created the feature class.

    Learn more about creating, modifying, and deleting fields

    If you want to bring in fields from another feature class, click Import.

  5. On the Spatial Reference page of the wizard, set the spatial reference for the new feature class. The Current XY box is highlighted. Under XY Coordinate Systems Available, browse to the coordinate system you want to use. You can search or filter to help you locate a specific coordinate system. You can also base the coordinate system for the new feature class on a layer in the current map, create your own coordinate system, or import a coordinate system from another feature class. When you are done, click Next. To learn more about specifying a coordinate system, see Specify a coordinate system.

    If you are creating an annotation feature class inside of a feature dataset, the coordinate system is automatically set.

  6. On the Tolerance page, enter an x,y tolerance. The x,y tolerance is calculated based on the coordinate system specified. The default is sufficient in most cases. When you are done, click Next.

    If you make changes to the x,y tolerance and want to revert to the default value, click the Reset To Default button.

  7. On the Resolution page, the Accept default resolution and domain extent (recommended) check box is checked by default. The default resolution and extents are sufficient in most situations, but if you know that your data needs these properties changed, you can uncheck the Accept default resolution and domain extent (recommended) check box and edit the x,y resolution value. Learn more about the properties of a spatial reference.
  8. Click Next.
  9. On the Storage Configuration page of the wizard, you can customize how the feature class will be stored. If you want to specify a storage configuration for the new feature class, click Use Configuration Keyword and choose the appropriate configuration keyword from the drop-down menu. Otherwise, Default is sufficient. Learn more about Configuration keywords. When you are done, click Next.
  10. On the Annotation Properties page, set the annotation-specific properties for the feature class.
    1. Click the Reference scale drop-down arrow and choose a scale, or type a scale value. Next, from Map units, choose the units in which your annotation will be stored. The units should match the map coordinate system.

      The scale should be equal to the scale at which the annotation will normally display.

      If you are creating an annotation feature class inside of a feature dataset, the map units are set automatically. The units match those of the feature dataset's coordinate system. If the feature dataset coordinate system is unknown, the units default to meters.

      Caution:

      Changing the reference scale of an annotation feature class is an intensive operation that requires an update of every feature's bounding box geometry. A reference scale change results in a change of annotation feature size, which can result in overlapping text. Extreme care should be taken when modifying this property after an annotation feature class has been created.

    2. Set the editing behavior for the annotation feature class. The editing behavior options available will vary depending on whether the annotation is feature linked.
  11. Click Next.
  12. Standard and feature-linked geodatabase annotation feature classes contain one or more annotation classes. Click the Modify button to edit the default annotation class, or click the Add annotation class button to add a new class. Repeat the substeps below until you have specified all the annotation classes and their properties.
    1. Click the Visibility range tab to set the minimum and maximum scales for displaying the annotation and the text symbol of the annotation class.

      Specifying a visible range for each annotation class improves performance when working with annotation. You can also specify a visible scale range in ArcGIS Pro.

    2. Set the default text symbol properties for the annotation class on the Symbol tab.
  13. Click Finish to create the new standard annotation feature class. If at any point you want to discard your changes and not create a new feature class, you can click the close button at the top of the dialog box and close the Create Feature Class wizard.

Create a new feature-linked annotation feature class

Follow these steps to create a new feature-linked annotation feature class:

  1. Create a new feature-linked annotation feature class in the Catalog view. Open the Create Feature Class wizard by double-clicking a geodatabase and then clicking New > Feature Class in the Create group on the Catalog ribbon. This opens the Create Feature Class wizard. You can also create new annotation feature classes in the Catalog pane. Right-click the geodatabase or feature dataset in which you want to create the new feature-linked annotation feature class and click New > Feature Class.

    Caution:
    Feature classes that are linked to this new annotation feature class are read-only if you open them in ArcMap. If you created the annotation feature class in a feature dataset, feature classes in that feature dataset are read-only if you open them in ArcMap.

  2. On the Define page of the wizard, type a name for the feature class in the Name text box. To create an alias for this feature class, type one in the Alias text box.
  3. From the Feature Class Type drop-down list, set the type of features that will be stored in this feature class as Annotation and click Next.
  4. On the Fields page of the wizard, you can add fields to the feature class. To add a field to the feature class, click the Click here to add a new field option in the final row. A new row is added to the list of fields. Type a name in the Field Name column, set a data type in the Data Type column, and then click Next.

    By default, several fields are added to an annotation feature class. Some of these are required, whereas others are optional. If you don't require the optional fields, you can delete them now, or delete them from the Fields view after you've created the feature class.

    Learn more about creating, modifying, and deleting fields

    If you want to bring in fields from another feature class, click Import.

  5. On the Spatial Reference page of the wizard, set the spatial reference for the new feature class. The Current XY box is highlighted. Under XY Coordinate Systems Available, browse to the coordinate system you want to use. You can search or filter to help you locate a specific coordinate system. You can also base the coordinate system for the new feature class on a layer in the current map, create your own coordinate system, or import a coordinate system from another feature class. When you are done, click Next. To learn more about specifying a coordinate system, see Specify a coordinate system.

    If you are creating an annotation feature class inside of a feature dataset, the coordinate system is automatically set.

  6. On the Tolerance page, enter an x,y tolerance. The x,y tolerance is calculated based on the coordinate system specified. The default is sufficient in most cases. When you are done, click Next.

    If you make changes to the x,y tolerance and want to revert to the default value, click the Reset To Default button.

  7. On the Resolution page, the Accept default resolution and domain extent (recommended) check box is checked by default. The default resolution and extents are sufficient in most situations, but if you know that your data needs these properties changed, you can uncheck the Accept default resolution and domain extent (recommended) check box and edit the x,y resolution value. Learn more about the properties of a spatial reference.
  8. Click Next.
  9. On the Storage Configuration page of the wizard, you can customize how the feature class will be stored. If you want to specify a storage configuration for the new feature class, click Use Configuration Keyword and choose the appropriate configuration keyword from the drop-down menu. Otherwise, Default is sufficient. Learn more about Configuration keywords. When you are done, click Next.
  10. On the Annotation Properties page, set the annotation-specific properties for the feature class.
    1. To create feature-linked annotation, check Link the annotation to the following feature class and choose the feature class to link to from the drop-down menu. The feature class must be in the same feature dataset as the annotation feature class you are creating.

      When creating feature-linked annotation, specify either the Standard Label Engine or the Maplex Label Engine to use for the creation of the linked annotation.

      Note:

      It is not possible to change the feature class linked to, or the label engine used, after the feature class is created.

    2. Click the Reference scale drop-down arrow and choose a scale, or type a scale value. Next, from Map units, choose the units in which your annotation will be stored. The units should match the map coordinate system.

      The scale should be equal to the scale at which the annotation will normally display.

      If you are creating an annotation feature class inside of a feature dataset, the map units are set automatically. The units match those of the feature dataset's coordinate system. If the feature dataset coordinate system is unknown, the units default to meters.

      Caution:

      Changing the reference scale of an annotation feature class is an intensive operation that requires an update of every feature's bounding box geometry. A reference scale change results in a change of annotation feature size, which can result in overlapping text. Extreme care should be taken when modifying this property after an annotation feature class has been created.

    3. Set the editing behavior for the annotation feature class. The editing behavior options available will vary depending on whether the annotation is feature linked.
    4. Set the general label settings for the annotation feature class. These options will be used when the annotation is feature linked.
    5. If the annotation is feature linked and uses the Maplex Label Engine, create any key numbering groups and abbreviation dictionaries to be used by the annotation feature class.
  11. Click Next.
  12. Standard and feature-linked geodatabase annotation feature classes contain one or more annotation classes. Click the Modify button to edit the default annotation class, or click the Add annotation class button to add a new class. Repeat the substeps below until you have specified all the annotation classes and their properties.
    1. When creating feature-linked annotation, specify the linked feature class fields that contain text for the first annotation class on the Label Expression tab. You can choose a label field or create an expression to specify more than one field.
    2. Click the SQL query tab to specify that only certain features in the linked feature class will be annotated by the annotation class.
    3. Click the Visibility range tab to set the minimum and maximum scales for displaying the annotation.

      Specifying a visible range for each annotation class improves performance when working with annotation. You can also specify a visible scale range in ArcGIS Pro.

    4. Set the default text symbol properties for the annotation class on the Symbol tab.
    5. Set the placement properties for the annotation class on the Position tab.
  13. Click Finish to create the new feature-linked annotation feature class. If at any point you want to discard your changes and not create a new feature class, you can click the close button at the top of the dialog box and close the Create Feature Class wizard.

Related topics