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Polygon boundary with hash marks looks awful in map legend

May 08 2008 | 0 comments
Categories: Map Elements, Page Layout

I have a polygon dataset representing populated places and I wish to show the boundaries with short diagonal hash marks pointing into the polygon. This is fairly easily done so the symbol looks fine on the map. But it looks bad in the legend in the data frame table of contents (which I could live with) and especially in the legend on the layout. This is basically becuase the has marks are longer than the width of the box symbol in the legend. Is it possible to somehow control the symbol so it is proportionate to the box, or to have the legend symbol show as a line with hash marks rather than a polygon?

Mapping Center Answer:

Yes, it's just a matter of deciding the best way for your case to go about it.

 If this is a one-off printed map, you could just convert the legend in the layout to graphics and edit the graphic for the legend to make it larger and more representative of the boundaries your map shows.  The downside is that your legend is no longer linked to your data frame, so any changes you make will need to be made in both places--so only do this when you are near or at the end of the workflow to produce your map.

 If this is a map that must be produced or updated regularly, then creating a custom legend patch shape and updating the legend item is the way to go.  We've got a knowledge base article called Create a custom area or line legend patch shape that gives the basics about how to create the new legend patch shape.

Then open your legend's properties and click on the Items tab and do the following:

  1. Select your layer in the legend items list.
  2. Click the Style button
  3. In the Legend Item Selector dialog box click the Properties button
  4. On the General tab of the Legend Item dialog box, check both the Override default patch, and the Override default patch size options (you may be able to get away with just the default size option).
  5. Choose a new patch and set a new size.
  6. Click OK to close all the dialogs.
  7. Last if you want to do as you were suggesting and use a custom line, rather than a polygon, you would definitely need to use the first method and convert your legend to graphics.  Generally speaking, the more customized I need my legend to appear, the more likely I am to convert it to graphics and do the right thing with respect to presenting the symbols in the easiest, fastest, and most efficient way for a reader to get what they need.

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