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Gulf of St. Lawrence: Shifting city point symbols to avoid symbols of other features
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After drawing the map, we noticed that quite a few of these symbols drew on top of each other
After drawing the map, we noticed that quite a few of these point symbols overlapped coastlines—looking like they jutted out into the water, like Pointe-au-Père .
We fixed this by converting the symbols to representations and then moved the symbols that conflicted with other features, particularly the coast lines.
We fixed this by converting the symbols to representations and then we shifted the symbols that conflicted with other features, particularly the coastlines.

What: The symbols for city points overlap the symbols for coastlines, which can happen when city point data are compiled independently of a coastline data. This creates a problem of reduced legibility on maps, i.e., it’s harder to see and understand the features on the map. Why: One of the most important jobs of a map maker is to decide what goes on the map and what does not, and then to make sure everything on the map is legible. If the symbols create an illegible display the map maker must make the necessary modifications to increase legibility.

How: We shifted the city points that conflicted with the coastlines inland just enough to allow the coastline to be clearly seen. We did this manually because at this point there is no automated method to move just the points that overlap the lines in a way that does not interfere with the rest of the map’s content.

There are two ways to do this, one is to use the Editor to select and move each point. The result would be permanent change to the dataset or a copy of it; that is not always desirable as other processes or maps might depend on the location of those points. Another way is to use representations to override the location of the point symbols. Here is how we did that:

  1. Once we had applied our symbology, we right-clicked on that layer and chose Convert Symbology to Representation. This added a new layer to our map that used representation symbology. We removed the old layer.
  2. We made the representations layer the only selectable layer using the Selection tab of the table of contents (TOC).
  3. We started an edit session.
  4. We opened the Representations toolbar.
  5. We used the black select tool on the representations toolbar to select and move each point that overlapped the coastline. This stored in our representation a location override for each of the features we edited. We learned how to make these edits to our representations from the web help topic: An overview of editing feature representations.
  6. Last, we saved our edits and stopped the edit session.
TIP
  • One way to be sure find all the city points that conflict with the coastlines is to convert the coastlines to representations and use the Detect Graphic Conflect tool with the city and coastline representations as the inputs.

An added benefit to using representations to shift city points is that if you need to make another map that uses different symbol sizes for your cities you can add another representation to your cities feature class to store what will be differnt shifted locations for the city points in that map.

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