Ask A Cartographer

fit city labels within outline of a county

August 14 2008 | 0 comments
Categories: Labeling, Maplex

I would like to create a map that contains townships and cities. Both of the features are labeled. How can I make sure that the township labels are centtered on the township, make sure city labels are as close as possible, if not over the city, and make sure that any city labels are contained within the county boundary?

Mapping Center Answer:

I would label the townships first, based on being higher up in the label priorities (2nd button on labeling toolbar).  Don't use any label weights--this will allow the township labels to appear closest to the center (note that Maplex in ArcGIS 9.3 also has an option for forcing polygon labels to a certain portion of the polygon).  I would also opt for a smaller font, which will take some of the pressure off--right now the labels are larger than the text in the table of contents. 

Next, label the cities.  One trick I would use here is to convert the city polygons to points using the Feature to Point tool, and then label the points. But don't draw the points--set the symbol to be a marker symbol that is set to use "No Color" as the color. This will allow you to offset the label around the point (if you have Maplex and 9.3 you can get the same effect labeling just the polygons).  The larger you make the point symbol the the labels will be pushed off the polygons, so in your case, I'm guessing a very small point symbol would best.

Another thing I just noticed is that you've labeled the townships in all caps.  You could do two things there, change to proper case, or use an even smaller font.  Another thing that would clean up the map would be to not use a boundary line symbol for the township boundaries--you've already got them differentiated by being either light gray or white--you could use an even lighter gray allowing the city polygons to pop out a bit better. 

Last, you don't need the "TWP" text in the township labels--getting them centered and in a pattern will make it more obvious these are townships, and removing the "TWP" will improve that.


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