What: The street labels for this map were produced from a street centerline dataset that is not symbolized on the map. Why: The labels needed to fit generally between the block polygons on the map and be easy to read. By making street name labels black against the light gray of the streets and the light beige of the city blocks, the street labels stood out sufficiently and could be made large enough to be easily read even if they overlapped the blocks a little. The major streets, e.g., Market St. and Harbor Blvd., which were differentiated by an attribute value in the database, were given a larger symbol than the rest of the streets. In Cartographic terms, this is called feature hierarchy, learn more about feature hierarchy on page 72 of Designing Better Maps.
We designed for placement of street labels to show one set of labels in the Gas Lamp District, where they would be most needed. The other labels were either pushed to the edge of the map in rows that made them easy to scan, or set in regular rows across other regions of the map, again for ease of finding and scanning.
How: The street labels needed to be placed in a highly specialized way (See page 88 in Designing Better Maps for details), so first we automatically placed the labels and then converted the labels to annotation which could be edited by hand in order to achieve the very refined look we wanted. We used automated labeling with the Maplex Extension to initially place the labels in a fashion that would be easiest to edit and have the fewest labels needing to be created from scratch. The only Maplex settings we used beyond the defaults were:
When converting the labels to annotation, we used the feature-linked option to automatically facilitate the follow feature mode in annotation editing. Most labels just needed to be dragged a little way into their final position, though a few had to be copied and pasted in order to have enough to clearly label a street.
We found a technique that works well when you need to make neatly aligned rows or columns of street names. We started by finding common elements amongst the names and used them to align the street labels, rather than using left or right justification. To do this, we created a graphic line (using the “New Line” tool on the Draw toolbar) that crossed the blocks on an axis we wanted to use for aligning the graphics. Figure 2 illustrates this technique to align all the streets with the abbreviation Ave. on the A, which is the most prominent of the reproduced elements in those labels.
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