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European Energy: Deemphasizing Less Important Labels on the Map
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Deemphasizing Less Important Labels: Before
Labels for countries without data are shown with the same text symbol as the countries with data
Deemphasizing Less Important Labels: After
Labels for countries without data are deemphasized using a less saturated color that matches the background

What: We wanted to subtly deemphasize the labels for countries without data. Why: These labels still needed to be on the map, just not as prominently as they would be used mainly for reference purposes. In cartographic terms the map the less important labels in the map on the right are lower in the visual hierarchy. In Designing Better Maps you can learn more about feature hierarchy on pages 72 and 73.

How: We accomplished this effect by producing annotation, which which allowed us to first fine-tune the placement of the text relative to the 3D symbols, and second it allowed us to edit the text elements individually. For each of the countries without data, we changed the color when we edited the map. We tested a few colors first, printing the map, and then picking the one we liked, and saved it into our style so we could easily use it on the other annotation elements.

This worked well for a small map like this as there were only a few labels that needed this change. It only took us a couple of minutes to manually change the colors. Here is how to do it

  1. Once you have converted your labels to annotation, start editing with your annotation's workspace being the editable workspace.
  2. On the table of contents' selection tab, set your annotation to be the only selectable layer.
  3. Using the annotation toolbar's Edit Annotation Tool, select the annotation you want to change.
  4. On the Editor toolbar click the Attributes button to open the Attributes dialog box.
  5. In the Attributes dialog box click on each feature in the list on the left and change its color on the right.
  6. Once you have changed the color of the last selected annotation, save your edits and stop editing.

If you are making a larger map or a set of maps where you have many more text elements to change, you should set up labeling classes for the less important features before creating annotation. That only takes a few minutes to do and will save you lots of manual work on larger and more complex maps

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