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European Energy: Creating a hierarchy of label classes
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Creating Label Hierarchy: Before
Here, the labels for the countries are all the same size, not reinforcing any kind of hierarchy.
Creating Label Hierarchy: After
Here the smaller countries labels are smaller, which also generally reinforces the population and energy statistics

What: We felt that not using a hierarchy of labels on this map was problematic for two reasons. Why: First, people reading the map expect that more important things to be labeled in a way that asserts that importance. Second, while the text size shown worked well for some of the larger countries in Europe, it created problems with smaller countries such as in the Balkan Peninsula. Cartographically, this technique is introducing an indicator of feature hierarchy. In Designing Better Maps you can learn more about feature hierarchy on pages 72 and 73.

How: We accomplished our hierarchy of labels creating two label classes for the countries layer, one for the small labels and one for the larger labels. Here is how to do it:

  1. Before symbolizing the country data use the data classification tools in the layer properties symbology tab to set up some symbology to use temporarily to automatically create label classes.
  2. We chose to use population to determine label size. Specifically if a country had a population of less than twenty-five million, it was given a smaller label. Here is how to do it:
    1. Open the Layer Properties and click on the Symbology tab
    2. Change the type of symbology to use the Quantities, Graduated colors method.
    3. Set the Value field to the data's population field
    4. Change the number of classes to two.
    5. Click the Classify button
    6. In the Classification dialog box, at the lower right, there is a list of the break values. Change the first number to 25 million.
    7. Click OK and then in Layer Properties, click OK.
  3. Next we set up our label classes. From the Labeling toolbar open the Label Manager, and do the following:
    1. a. Click on the countries layer (not it's label classes) and you should see something like the figure below:

      Shows the Label Manager dialog box with the layer selected, which shows the option on the right to add label classes based on symblogy.
    2. Click the Add button to the right of the list of the checked symbology categories. Click Yes in the resulting dialog box.
  4. Now the label classes are created and you only need to set up the labeling properties and the symbol properties for each of these classes. We used a symbol size of 8 pts for the smaller countries and the larger countries we set to 10 pts
  5. Anytime after you’ve created the new label classes, the symbology for the countries can be safely changed to what is needed for the map without affecting the layer’s label classes.

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