Everything that can be added to a layout is a layout element and can be viewed in the Contents pane. Elements are either dynamic or static. Dynamic elements update in response to changes in the data or the map extent. Static elements remain the same regardless of changes in the data. You can add map frames, extent indicators, grids, north arrows, scale bars, legends, chart frames, table frames, pictures, graphics, text, and dynamic text to a layout.
Each element has unique settings and uses, but all are created and modified in the same way. Additionally, many elements share some common properties, such as borders, backgrounds, and shadows. When multiple elements are selected, you can arrange them relative to one another using the Element tab.
To add an element to the layout, select the layout view. On the Insert tab, select an element and drag a box to specify where you want to add the element in the layout. You can modify the drawing order of the elements using the Contents pane. For more information, see Layout and the Contents pane.
To modify an element, select it in the Contents pane or on the layout. You can then modify the most common properties on the contextual tab for that element, or open the Element pane to access all the available properties. You can select multiple elements, but you can only modify the properties common across all the selected elements.
Once you have created and modified an element, you can save it as a style to use again on other layouts. Most elements support saving as a style, but some, including chart frames do not support this capability.
When you select an element in the Contents pane, a contextual tab for that element appears in the ribbon. This tab is named based on the type of element. If a legend is added or selected, the tab is called Legend. For a map frame, it is called Map Frame and so on. If multiple elements are selected, an Element tab with properties common across all selected elements appears.
Regardless of the name, the contextual ribbon allows you to view and set the most common properties for the selected element. You can access additional properties for an element in the Element pane. The contextual element formatting tab is generally composed of the following groups, although the groups can change based on the nature of the element:
This group is only available for multipart elements—any element that can have at least a border, a background, and a shadow. Use the drop-down arrow to select the part of the element you want to work with.
Graphics and Text
Use the edit tools to adjust the geometry of the element.
Use the gallery to apply a style item of the corresponding type to the selected item, or set individual symbol properties using the available controls.
Use the gallery to apply a text style item to the selected text, or set individual text symbol properties using the available controls.
Use the available commands to align, distribute, group, and reorder selected elements.
Size & Position
Use the controls in this group to set the exact location and dimensions of elements.
When multiple elements are selected, you can use the tools in the Arrange group to align, distribute, group, and reorder them.
To align elements, select the elements, click the Align drop-down menu on the contextual element tab, and select a type of arrangement. You can align or distribute the elements vertically or horizontally. Elements are aligned to the edge of the first selected element by default. Check Align to Page from the drop-down menu to align the selected element to the edge of the page. For example, if you choose Align to Top while Align to Page is turned on, the top edges of all selected elements are aligned to the top of the page.
To distribute elements, click the Distribute drop-down menu and choose from the following options:
Evenly distribute elements between the leftmost and rightmost selected elements so there is an equal amount of space between element edges. If there is not enough space between the two elements for all the selected elements to fit, the distribution space is expanded so all elements fit without overlapping.
Evenly distribute elements between the topmost and bottommost selected elements so there is an equal amount of space between element edges. If there is not enough space between the two elements for all the selected elements to fit, the distribution space is expanded so all elements fit without overlapping.
Distribute Horizontal Centers
Evenly distribute elements between the leftmost and rightmost selected elements so there is an equal amount of space between element centers. The leftmost and rightmost elements do not move.
Distribute Vertical Centers
Evenly distribute elements between the topmost and bottommost selected elements so there is an equal amount of space between element centers. The topmost and bottommost elements do not move.
Make Same Size
Make the selected elements the same height and width as the first selected element.
Make Same Width
Make the selected elements the same width as the first selected element. The heights of the elements remain unchanged.
Make Same Height
Make the selected elements the same height as the first selected element. The widths of the elements remain unchanged.
Fit to Margins
Make the selected elements the same size as and align them to the printer margins. If the page does not have printer margins, the full page size is used.
Fit to Margin Width
Make the selected elements the same width as the printer margins. If the page does not have printer margins, the full page width is used.
Fit to Margin Height
Make the selected elements the same height as the printer margins. If the page does not have printer margins, the full page height is used.
Elements can be grouped together. Grouping elements allows all the elements in the group to be resized or rotated without losing their relative positions to each other. You can also change the visibility of a group to make all the elements within the group visible or invisible on the layout. With multiple elements selected click the Group drop-down menu on the Element tab and choose Group to create a group from the selected elements, or Ungroup to dissolve an existing group. Ungrouping does not remove the grouped elements from the layout.
To change the drawing order of an element, click the Order drop-down menu and choose from the following options:
Bring to Front
Bring an element to the top of the drawing order.
Bring an element up one place in the drawing order.
Send an element down one place in the drawing order.
Send to Back
Send an element to the bottom of the drawing order.
You can also view and change the drawing order using the Contents pane. See Layout and the Contents pane for information on how to work with layout elements in the Contents pane.
The tools in the Align drop-down menu , Distribute drop-down menu , Group drop-down menu , and Order drop-down menu are also available in the element's context menu. Access the context menu by selecting the element or elements in the Contents pane or on the layout view and right-clicking. In addition to these options, the context menu contains the Nudge menu, which allows you to move an element up, down, right, or left by 5 points.
Size & Position
In the Size & Position group, you can view and set the anchor point, as well as the x,y location, width, and height values of the selected element. If a group is selected, all elements in the group react to changes made to these settings. For example, if you change the Height value to 3 inches, all elements in the group scale up or down until the boundary of the group is 3 inches tall. However, if multiple elements are selected but are not in a group, they are treated individually and not as a temporary group. For example, if you change the X position to 2 inches, all selected elements line up at 2 inches.
The anchor point for an element defines the location from which an element is positioned and resized. This is especially important for dynamic elements, as the content of the element grows or shrinks in the direction indicated by the anchor point. The anchor point remains fixed in place, and the element grows or shrinks around it. For example, a dynamic table with the anchor point set to Lower left grows in an upward direction, while a dynamic table with the anchor point set to Upper left grows in a downward direction. Set the anchor point using the Position control. Select one of the nine anchor point options: upper left, top midpoint, upper right, left midpoint, center, right midpoint, lower left, bottom midpoint, and lower right. You can see the anchor point when the element is selected; it is the differently colored vertex.
The x- and y-coordinates for the element, as well as the width and height, are set in the same units as the layout. If the layout is set in inches, the positioning and sizing properties are also in inches. Most layout elements are polygons or lines and have more than one coordinate. For these elements, the X and Y values displayed on the contextual element tab are the coordinates of the anchor point. Use the Preserve Aspect Ratio button to lock the aspect ratio of the element. When the aspect ratio is locked, changing the height automatically scales the width, and vice versa, so that the relationship between the height and width values remains constant.
Size and position commands are unavailable when working with an individual piece of a multipart element, such as a picture's border.
The Element pane contains every property that can be set for an element, including the properties found on the formatting tab for that element. To open the Element pane, select an element in the Contents pane, right-click, and choose Properties. As long as the pane is open, it reflects the properties of the element currently selected in the Contents pane, so you don't need to open it for each element individually.
Properties in the Element pane are grouped onto tabs. The tabs vary depending on the specific element type, but many elements have an Options tab , Display tab , and Placement tab .
The Options tab contains the most common properties for an element. On this tab, you can set the name the element displays in the Contents pane by filling in the Name text box. Element names must be unique. You can display or hide the element on the layout by checking or unchecking the Visibility check box. Also, you can lock or unlock an element using the Locked check box. When an element is locked, you can select it in the Contents pane and modify it in the Element pane, but you cannot manually select or modify it on the layout.
Additional properties may be available on the Options tab , depending on the element type.
The Display tab contains the properties for an element's border, background, and shadow:
- Border—A line around the outside of the element
- Background—A symbol the same shape as the element that draws behind the element
- Shadow—A symbol the same shape as the element, offset to create a drop shadow highlighting the element
For each of these, you can set the symbol and rounding. For borders and background, you can set the x-gap and y-gap. The gaps are the amount of space between an element and the border or background. For shadows, you can set the offset, determining how large the shadow is and in which direction it falls.
The Placement tab contains the same properties as the Size & Position group on the contextual element tab. Additionally, you can set the rotation value for the element.