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Legend label different from map label without manual modification

November 25 2010 | 2 comments
Categories: Labeling, Map Elements

Hi Cartographers

How can I label on one field and use a different field in the legend without doing it manually? I want my map labelling to be short with a detailed label description in the legend, this seems like a common thing to do cartographic wise but I can’t work it out.

The abbreviated label in the map is from a coded value domain linked to the main ID. The long description for the legend is in a table linked by the main ID. I can also get the abbreviated label from this table as well. Symbology also must come from a style as there are thousands of them.


Mapping Center Answer:

Unfortunately, at this time, there is no out of the box automated way to do what you are asking.

You might want to look through the ArcScripts website to see if someone has written a script that automates this process.

For the manual method do the following:

  • Right click on your feature layer in the Table of Contents and go to its Properties
  • On the Symbology tab, right click on one of the patch shapes and select "Edit Description..."
  • Once the Description for Legend dialog comes up, copy and paste the detailed description from your table here for the symbol that you selected
  • If you want your description to be more than one line, press CTRL+ENTER to insert a line break
  • If you want to further format the look of the text, you can use text formatting tags

What this will give you in your legend is the abbreviated label and next to it, the longer, more descriptive text. 

There is a sample graphic here that is similar to how your legend will look.

Note that you can also select from existing legend styles to design the layout of your legend.  Right click the legend on the page layout and click Properties.  Then on the Items tab, click the Styles button to see if there is a legend style that will work for your layout.

Another Mapping Center blog post that you might find useful is Organizing layers with too many unique values.

Legend label different from map label without manu posted by Scott Welch on Nov 30 2010 4:27PM
Thanks for your answer. It's exactly what I don't want to do.
Agreed posted by Aileen Buckley on Dec 1 2010 12:40PM
We agree that this is not the optimal solution when you have many records, as in your case. We are researching a table or report solution instead and will let you know what we find out. In the meantime, you can submit this as a software enhancement so that the development teams know that you would like to see this in the software. You can do this using the "Submit an ArcGIS Idea" tab here on the Ask a Cartographer section of Mapping Center.

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