Point symbols

Point symbols are used to draw point features and point graphics in maps, scenes, and layouts. Point symbols are unique in that they can also be used in line, polygon, and text symbols.

Point symbols, like all symbol types, are composed of symbol layers. Point symbols typically contain only one marker symbol layer but can contain more. Rarely, point symbols also include stroke or fill symbol layers. In these cases, a symbol effect is also applied to dynamically create line or polygon geometry for the strokes or fills to draw. A Radial symbol effect is included when a stroke symbol layer is added, and a Buffer symbol effect is included when a fill symbol layer is added. You can change the properties of these symbol effects or delete them and replace them with different effects, but ensure that you maintain geometric logic within the symbol.

Point symbol properties

The properties of point symbols come mainly from the properties of the symbol layers within them, but there are also some global properties you can adjust for the point symbol as a whole. These are called the basic properties of the symbol. You use the Properties tab in Format Symbol mode of the Symbology pane to access all of the properties of a point symbol. The symbol properties are contained across three tabs, as outlined in the following table:


Symbol tab Symbol

Access all the basic properties that apply globally to the point symbol. These are the only properties available when you have more than one point symbol selected.

Layers tab Layers

Access all of the properties of each symbol layer that comprise the point symbol. This is where you control the most detailed properties of the symbol's appearance and behavior.

Structure tab Structure

Access the way the point symbol is structured. On this tab, you can add, duplicate, delete, and reorder symbol layers and symbol effects.

Point symbol basic properties

Point symbols have a few basic properties: Color, Size, Angle, Angle alignment, Halo, and 3D behavior (available only when the point is in a 3D context, such as in the 3D Layers category of a scene). They apply globally to the entire point symbol. You'll find these properties on the Symbol tab Symbol. Basic properties are an easy way to make simple changes to a symbol. To make detailed changes to the symbol, you must access the properties of the individual symbol layers that make up the symbol on the Layers tab Layers.

When you vary symbology—the transparency, color, rotation, or size—of a feature layer by an attribute in the source data, it is the basic properties of each point symbol that are dynamically modified.

When you have more than one symbol selected, for example, when you are formatting all of the symbols in a layer symbolized by unique values, you can access only the basic properties of the symbols. You cannot see or change the properties of the individual symbol layers that comprise all the selected symbols.

Color basic property

The Color basic property applies to all color-unlocked symbol layers within the point symbol.

When you vary the color of all symbols in a feature layer by attribute, only the color-unlocked symbol layers are affected. When you vary the transparency of all symbols in a feature layer by an attribute, the entire symbol is affected, regardless of how color locking is established within the symbol.

Shape fill symbol basic property

In some cases, the Shape fill symbol property is available on the Symbol tab Symbol, along with the Color, Outline color, and Outline width subproperties. When multiple symbols are selected, you can change the color and the size of their outlines simultaneously.


This set of properties appears only under certain conditions. Valid symbols are those with a single marker symbol layer that is of type shape. Internally, the marker symbol layer must be of type CIMVectorMarker that consists of a single CIMMarkerGraphic. The polygon symbol applied to the marker symbol layer must have at least one color-unlocked stroke symbol layer.

If all the currently selected point symbols use gradient polygon symbols on the marker symbol layer, two color controls are shown instead of one. These correspond to the two ends of the gradient.

Size basic property

The Size basic property shows the size of the largest marker symbol layer in the symbol. If you change the Size basic property, the sizes of all the marker symbol layers are resized proportionally.


Very large point symbols are reduced to a maximum size in the Contents pane to ensure the pane remains usable. This means that the relative sizes of symbols may not be faithfully depicted in the Contents pane. By default, the patch area is 48 pts square. You can adjust the size of this patch to show larger symbols. On the ribbon, click the Project tab. Click Options from the menu. Under the Application heading, click the Map and Scene tab. Under the Contents Pane heading, you can adjust the patch size for point symbols in the Contents pane.

Scale-based sizing

When a point symbol symbolizes a feature layer in a multiscale map (as opposed to a stand-alone symbol in a style, or a symbol applied to a graphic in a layout), you can check Enable scale-based sizing to adjust the size of the symbol at different scales. Making symbols draw smaller at smaller scales is an effective way to reduce visual clutter and interference on a map. You cannot vary the size of point symbols by scale in a scene.

When enabled, a slider appears, with stops derived from the map scales. The slider itself extends across the complete scale range of the map, from an infinitely small scale (zoomed far out) on the left extreme of the slider to a large scale of zero (zoomed far in) at the right extreme of the slider. The dark part of the slider shows the visible scale range of the symbol class. If this visible scale range has not been specifically set, the dark portion of the slider corresponds to the scale range of the feature layer. Click a scale stop and define the symbol size at that scale in the Size property. You can drag stops to define the size at a different scale. You can click along the slider to add new stops based on the defined map scales. The point symbol size varies linearly between sizes set at each scale. You should use scale-based sizing without a reference scale set.

Angle basic property

The Angle basic property applies to the symbol as a whole, measured in degrees and applied counterclockwise. Use negative values to rotate clockwise. When there is only one marker symbol layer, the Angle basic property matches the angle of that layer. When there is more than one marker symbol layer in the point symbol, changing the Angle basic property updates the angles of each marker symbol layer. For example, imagine a point symbol made of two marker symbol layers, one with an angle of 5 degrees and one with an angle of 10 degrees. If you set the Angle basic property of the point symbol to 20 degrees, the marker symbol layers update to have angles of 25 degrees and 30 degrees, respectively.

In a 3D context, the Angle basic property affects rotation around the z-axis only.

Angle Alignment basic property

By default, point symbols are aligned to the display, meaning that they always point up relative to your monitor or the page. If your map is transformed or otherwise rotated, you can choose to align point symbols to the map instead. In this case, they always point up relative to the coordinate system of the map. This setting is ignored when the symbol is drawn in a 3D context in a scene.


Point symbols that originate from imported ArcMap map documents (*.mxd files) derive their alignment setting based on the setting of the document. In most cases, this results in point symbols with alignment set to the map in ArcGIS Pro. This property is set in ArcMap in the Advanced ArcMap Settings utility.

Halo basic property

Point symbols can include a halo, which is drawn with a polygon symbol, radiating outward from the symbol a set distance. Halos are used to emphasize point symbols or to visually separate them from competing background information. The default setting is no halo. To set a halo, choose a preset polygon from the Halo symbol pull-down gallery, or click More polygon symbols in the gallery to choose a polygon symbol from an available style.

To edit additional properties of the halo, click the Halo symbol menu and click Format polygon symbol. The polygon symbol used to draw the halo opens in the Format Embedded Polygon Symbol subpane. Adjust the properties of the halo polygon symbol as you would any other polygon symbol. To save the custom polygon symbol for reuse, click the menu button Menu in the upper right corner and click Save embedded symbol to style. Click Return to previous symbology page Return to primary symbology page to return to the Format Point Symbol pane.

3D point symbol properties

In a 3D context, you can choose to set the global billboarding behavior and adjust the rotation calculation order under the 3D behavior heading. Check Billboard to have the point symbols always face the direction of the viewer when you navigate through a scene. This is a global symbol setting that applies to all marker layers in the symbol. You can also modify billboarding behavior on individual symbol layers. Choose a billboard behavior option from the pull-down menu as follows:


With full rotation

The symbol always faces the viewer directly, regardless of view angle.

With signpost rotation

The symbol always faces toward the viewer as though spinning on a vertical signpost. Viewed from above, the symbol does not face you; you see the top of the symbol.


If your scene is set to cast shadows, the shadows only appear on symbols that exist in fixed, real-world space. That is, if they are billboarded or they are not in real-world units, they do not cast a shadow.

Set the Rotation order to define the order in which rotation is applied to markers in a point symbol in 3D. Choose between XYZ, ZXY, and YXZ, in which X is the tilt, Y is the roll, and Z is the heading of the symbol. Typically, the YXZ option is used, which applies roll first, then tilt, and finally heading to a point symbol. This option works best with properly authored 3D model marker symbol layers in which the forward direction for a symbol is north facing, with the z-axis as the up direction. You can reorient imported 3D models that have not been authored this way if necessary.

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