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Display symbol label with multiple lines in legend

December 22 2009 | 8 comments
Categories: Map Elements

I would like to display a symbol label on two lines in the legend for a layer that is sybolized using unique values. I would like both lines of the label to be centered horizontally with the label.

Mapping Center Answer:

To make legend labels display on two lines, you need to add a description to the legend items. This is done by right clicking in the lend item on the Symbology tab of the Layer Properties dialog. Select Edit Description… and here you can type in the label name (or paste copied text) and then add a carriage return (by clicking Control + Enter) to split the label so it shows on two lines.

To have the description show up in the legend instead of the label, in the legend properties, on the Items tab, right click the name of the layer in the Legend Items pane and click Properties. Here there are a number of options that relate to labels and descriptions, but at the least on the General tab you can choose to show the descriptions and not the labels for the legend items.

You can find some related documentation here:

The first article describes how to create a description and the second article describes how to display the description in a legend.

Thank you! posted by Jennifer Corso on Jun 15 2011 8:59AM
Nice - solves many a headache. Thanks!
Happy to help! posted by Aileen Buckley on Jun 15 2011 1:23PM
Glad you found a solution!
Layer name and Heading posted by Melody Andrews on Jun 6 2012 5:09AM
What about wrapping the layer name or heading over two (or more) lines? Is there any way to do that?
Yes - in 10.1 posted by Aileen Buckley on Jun 6 2012 11:07AM
This is currently not avaiable in ArcGIS 10.0 or earlier. But it is a new option in ArcGIS 10.1! On the Legend Properties dialog box on the Layout tab there is a new option to "Wrap labels".
Wrapping layer or heading names - NOT the label na posted by Monique Elsley on Oct 3 2012 6:26PM
Although the 'Text Wrapping' option in 10.1 is useful, it won't let me wrap the name of the layer or heading that appears before the individual items start. Is there a way to 'wrap' or 'break' the name of my actual heading, which appears above the individual items', into multiple lines please? I have tried the very useful 'ctrl+alt' that breaks a description name but this doesn't work when I try it for the layer or heading name. Thanks for any advice!
workaround posted by Neil McCallum on Mar 8 2013 9:44AM
Hi, I wanted this answered as well, but I figured out a work-around that might be useful in certain circumstances.

You can either create a "dummy" symbol in layer properties/Symbology at the top of the list (make the symbol invisibly by sizing to 0, or making no colour). Then make the label what you would have wanted in the second line of the symbol Header. Alternatively you could make the default category your "dummy" and label that in order to add detail to the Header.

OR, you could group some of the symbols by making several headers. Select -> right-click -> Move to Header. That will add some detail to your legend, and may be useful in some cases.
Text wrapping for legend labels and descriptions n posted by Aileen Buckley on Mar 8 2013 12:57PM
In ArcGIS 10.1, you can now wrap lgend labels and descriptions (this is still not possible for legend titles and headings, however, so Neil's work around might still be an option to try out).

See the Legend Properties dialog > Layout tab. There is a section in the bottom left there that lets you specify some settings for text wrapping. Basically you can set maximum widths and text that is longer than that will automatically wrap. More info on legends in 10.1 at http://resources.arcgis.com/en/help/main/10.1/index.html#//00s900000023000000
You CAN wrap titles and headings! posted by Aileen Buckley on Mar 8 2013 1:07PM
My bad -- I forgot -- you CAN wrap titles! And with the new functionality in ArcGIS 10.1, you can also now wrap headings.

To wrap legend titles, do it the same as you always could, by editing the title and inserting carriage returns in the dialog.

The headings are included along with the legend labels when you set the label and/or description wrapping.

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