Edit text

Once text has been added to the layout, you can modify it in-line or using the Element pane. There are many options for customizing and editing your text.

Adjust text symbols

Text symbols control how text looks, including the color, font, size, and more. Common text symbol properties such as the font, font size, and color are available on the contextual Text tab that appears whenever a text element is selected. All text symbol properties are available in the Element pane.

To access these properties, right-click a text element in the Contents pane and choose Properties to open the Element pane. Then choose Text Symbol to see the full list of text symbol properties.

Edit in-line text

After you've added text, you can make further edits on the layout directly.

  1. To make changes to the text on the layout, double-click the text.
  2. Use the keyboard arrows to move the pointer and delete text or type new text.

Use text editing shortcut keys

You can use keyboard shortcuts to work with text elements on the page. These shortcuts require that you select the text first.




All caps


Small caps



Ctrl+Shift+Plus Sign


Ctrl+Equal Sign

Use the following shortcuts to commit your changes:

  • Press Ctrl+Enter.
  • Press F2.
  • For area, point, and curve text, click outside the element.
  • Press Esc to cancel the edit.

Format with tags

Text formatting tags allow you to modify the formatting for a portion of text. This allows you to create mixed-format text where, for example, one word in a sentence is underlined. Text formatting tags can be used almost anywhere text is placed on or around the map. You can use the tags anywhere you can specify both a text string and a text symbol. For example, you can use tags in map titles and legend text.

Tags can be formatted in the Element pane. For more information about using tags, see Text formatting tags.

Add hyperlinks

In addition to the standard text formatting tags, layouts support hyperlinked text to web pages and files. There are several ways to add hyperlinks to a layout:

  • Type or paste a URL directly into a text element. The text is automatically recognized as a hyperlink and displayed accordingly.
  • While editing text in-line use the Add Hyperlink button in the Edit group of the Text tab to open the Hyperlink window.
  • While editing text in-line on the layout, press Ctrl+K to open the Hyperlink window.

The Hyperlink window allows you to have hyperlinked text appear without displaying the URL. Once opened, fill in the Address box with the URL and the Text to display box with the text to be hyperlinked. Some or all of the text in a text element can be hyperlinked.

Hyperlinks are shown on the layout as blue linked text. In the Element pane, hyperlinks are shown using text formatting tags, just like other formatting options such as underline or bold. You can modify the link or text within these tags in the Element pane to update the text. Additionally, because URLs are automatically tagged as hyperlinks, use the <NOLINK> tag to display the URL without turning it into a hyperlink.

Hyperlink text tags

<LINK url="https://esri.com">Esri company site</LINK>

Unlink a URL text tags


Hyperlinks on a layout respect the set security options. If an extension type is not allowed, hyperlinks to that file extension will not work.

Use spell-check

Spell-check is available for text elements in layouts. Other layout elements, such as legends and scale bars, cannot be spell-checked. Misspelled words are marked with wavy red underlines in the layout view and in the Element pane. Right-click a word marked as misspelled to correct the word or add the word to the custom dictionary so it won't be marked as misspelled in the future.


If incorrect words are not marked as misspelled, confirm that spell-check is enabled.

To see a list of all misspelled words in a layout, on the Layout tab, click the Check Spelling button Spell Check. The Check Spelling pane appears, listing all misspelled words in the project. Right-click a misspelled word or words in the pane to correct the word, add the word to the custom dictionary, or zoom to the text element or elements containing that word.


Spell-check does not work for acronyms or other words written in all caps. These are ignored by spell-check.

Set the text fitting strategy

Rectangle text Rectangle text can include a fitting strategy to help ensure all text is shown, even when it exceeds the size of the drawn box. There are four fitting strategies available for rectangle text.

  • None—No fitting strategy is applied. Any text that does not fit in the text box is not displayed and the overflow symbol Overflow appears. This is the default.
  • Adjust Font Size—Automatically shrink the font size to fit the text within the text box. Text does not grow beyond the originally set font size, it just shrinks if needed. The text does not shrink smaller than the Minimum font size set.
  • Adjust Width—Automatically adjust the width of the text box to fit the entire text. The height of the text box and the font size remain unchanged. This may result in text drawing off the page.
  • Adjust Height—Automatically adjust the height of the text box to fit the entire text. The width of the text box and the font size remain unchanged. This may result in text drawing off the page.

To set the text fitting strategy, complete the following steps:

  1. Right-click a rectangle text element Rectangle text on the layout or in the Contents pane and choose Properties Properties.

    The Element pane appears.

  2. In the Element pane, select a fitting strategy from the Fitting Strategy drop-down list.

Fitting strategies are only available for rectangle text Rectangle text. For any other text type, like straight text Straight Text or circle text Circle text, fitting strategies are not available.

Add columns to a text element

Text in a single text element can be placed in multiple columns in the Element pane. Open the pane by right-clicking a text element in the Contents pane and choosing Properties. To add columns, expand the Paragraph header and set the number of columns in the Columns control. Set the distance between columns using the Column Gaps control, and set the distance between the edge of the text element and the start of the text using the Margin control.

When multiple columns are specified, the text is automatically placed in the next columns once space in the first column is filled. When in-line editing, the columns are not visible but are applied as soon as the edits are complete.


Columns are not available for straight text Straight Text.

Switch text types

Rectangle text Rectangle text and straight text Straight Text are commonly used in layouts but have different behaviors. A rectangle text element automatically wraps long text to new lines and supports fitting strategies. It is useful for long text elements and dynamic text that may change. With a straight text element, as the element is resized, the font grows or shrinks to take up the available space. It is useful for titles or other shorter text that needs to be sized to fit a given area. You can convert between the two types of text as needed to get the desired properties. To convert between rectangle and straight text, complete the following steps:

  1. Select a rectangle Rectangle text or straight Straight Text text element on the layout or in the Contents pane.
  2. Right-click the selected element and choose Convert to Rectangle Text Convert To Rectangle Text or Convert to Straight Text Convert To Straight Text

    The text element updates to the new type. If converting to straight text Straight Text, the automatic word wrapping disappears, resulting in the text being on one line, or multiple lines if there are manual line breaks.


You can only convert between straight text and rectangle text, these options are not enabled for other text types like circle text Circle text.

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