Ask A Cartographer

How can you prevent labels from overlaping certain features in your map.

February 12 2010 | 2 comments
Categories: Labeling, Maplex

I am currently working on a urban bike and pedestrian trail map. I am using maplex to label city streets, but some of the street names are covering up my trails and important point features. Is there away you can tell ArcMap not to put a label on a certain feature in your map without having to create annotation?

Mapping Center Answer:

Yes, using label ranking, you can set up ArcMap so that it does not put labels on a certain feature. On the Labeling toolbar, there are two controls that you will find useful:  Label Weight Ranking and Label Priority Ranking.

The best option to prevent your overlapping labels is to use Label Weight Ranking.  The higher the weight a label class has, the less likely the feature is to be overlapped by another label from a different label class.  For example on your map, you would assign a higher weight on the label classes for trails and points of interest so they are less likely to have the street labels overlap them.

Label Priority Ranking determines the order in which labels are placed on the map.  If you use this option, you would rank the priority for the label classes for your trails and points of interest higher than the label classes for your roads.

An important thing to note is that in order to use these two options, you must must create a label class for the features that you do not want your street labels to overlap.  For example, even if you are not labeling your trails, you will have to create a "dummy" label class for your them. This means you will have to set the font to No Color (so it doesn't show up) so you can use the label ranking options with this label class.

Another good rule of thumb if you have the Maplex Extension is to set your labeling Placement Quality to Best (on the Labeling toolbar) to assure the highest quality placement of labels with the settings you use.

To learn more about the options available for labeling, see preventing labels from overlapping certain features and prioritizing and positioning labels.

thanks posted by thad wester on Oct 11 2011 7:00AM
very helpful and consise. Thanks!
You're welcome! posted by Aileen Buckley on Oct 12 2011 12:23PM
Glad you found this helpful!

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