Ask A Cartographer

Make transparent graphic box to place behind legend items

July 20 2010 | 2 comments
Categories: Map Elements

I would like to add a transparent box behind my legend features, so that I can still see underlying map features. Apart from making a feature layer that can be set to transparent, how else can this effect be achieved using a graphic feature. My only other alternative is to complete the legend outside of Desktop using a graphics program (eg. Photoshop, Corel, etc.). I have access to ArcInfo 9.3 / 9.3.1 / 10.

Mapping Center Answer:

You cannot apply transparency to graphic elements in ArcMap, but you can to geographic features.  As you surmised, one way to do what you want to do is to draw a graphic rectangle for the area that you want to be transparent, then right click the data frame and select the option to Convert Graphics to Features.  Note that you have to be in Data View to do this.  Then you can apply the color and transparency you want to the feature.  But you can do all of this in ArcMap and not have to use a graphics program.

transparent graphics & labels posted by Jacek Kleczkowski on Feb 16 2012 10:32AM
Yes, that is true, but many times you have to clean the labels as they will appear on top of that converted feature. In order to clean the labels, they will need to be converted to annotations. It is the only way I was able to create transparent legend backgrounds.
Clean the labels? posted by Aileen Buckley on Feb 16 2012 1:15PM
Although I am not quite sure what you mean by "clean the labels", it is true that you have many more editing options for annotation than you do for labels.

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