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Adding and modifying graphics

Release 9.3
Last modified September 29, 2009
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About adding graphics and modifying their properties

Points, lines, circles, polygons, and rectangles are among the graphic shapes you'll use to highlight features in your data and draw cartographic elements on your layout. Once you've added a graphic to your map, you can move it, resize it, change its color or symbol, align it with other graphics, and so on. You can also inspect its properties to find its area, length, and perimeter in the units of your choice and also the x,y coordinates of point graphics and the center of polygon graphics.


Adding graphics in layout view and data view

If you want to add a graphic as part of the map layout, add it in layout view. If you want the graphic to display with your data, add it in data view. For example, suppose you want to draw a circle representing a buffer around a feature. Instead of drawing the circle over the data frame in layout view, draw it directly over your data in data view. Then, as you pan and zoom your data, the circle pans and zooms with it.

When you are in layout view and want to draw graphics on a data frame so they display with your data, it's not necessary to switch to data view first. Instead, click the Select Elements tool Select Elements tool on the Draw toolbar and double-click the data frame. This gives the data frame focus. Now when you draw graphics on the data frame, they'll be added to the data frame instead of to the map layout. Once you've finished, click outside the data frame with the Select Elements tool to unfocus the data frame.
Graphics you add to a focused data frame in layout view will also show up in data view. However, any graphics you draw in layout view that are not being added to a focused data frame only appear in layout view.
Learn more about data frames
Learn more about focusing a data frame


How to add graphics and modify their properties

Adding a graphic

  1. Click the type of graphic you want to add on the Draw toolbar.
  2. Move the mouse pointer over the display and click to add the graphic.
  3. Some graphics require more than one click or a click and drag.

Tips

  • When you add a graphic to a map in layout view, ArcMap will add it to the layout by default. To add the graphic to a data frame, double-click the data frame with the Select Elements tool from the Draw toolbar, then use the appropriate tool to add a graphic to the data frame.
  • Press Shift+F6 when creating a graphic to type in its coordinates. Press E when creating a line or polygon to enter the coordinates of the last vertex. Press A or R when creating a circle to specify its area or radius. In data view, enter the coordinates in map units; in layout view, use page units. Click a graphics creation tool on the Draw toolbar, click the What's This button on the Standard toolbar, then click the tool again to get a list of the other shortcuts available.
  • If you find that your labels moved or disappeared when you inserted a graphic into the map, add the Labeling toolbar, click the Label Weight Ranking button, and change the feature weight of the <Default> layer (or the annotation group containing the graphic) to None.
  • By default, the Select Elements tool becomes active after you complete a graphic. If you want the graphics tools to remain active instead, check the Keep drawing tools active after creating graphic box on the Tools > Options > General tab.


Changing the size of a graphic

  1. Click the Select Elements tool Select Elements button on the Draw toolbar and click the graphic you want to resize.
  2. Move the mouse pointer over one of the blue selection handles and click and drag the handle.


Deleting a graphic

  1. Click the Select Elements tool Select Elements button on the Draw toolbar and click the graphic you want to delete.
  2. Press the Delete key.


Changing the color or symbol of a graphic

If you want to change the color of a graphic, use the buttons on the Draw toolbar.

  1. Click the Select Elements tool Select Elements button on the Draw toolbar and click the graphic you want to modify.
  2. Click the appropriate color button on the Draw toolbar. For example, click the arrow next to the Fill Color button to change the color of a polygon graphic.
  3. Click the new color. The color updates immediately.
If you want to make other changes to the symbology of a graphic, open its Properties dialog box.
  1. Click the Select Elements tool Select Elements button on the Draw toolbar and double-click the graphic to display its properties.
  2. Click the Symbol tab and change the desired property. The available properties vary depending on the type of graphic you've selected.
  3. Click OK.

Tip

  • If you don't find the exact color you want in the array of colors on the Color Palette, you can mix your own. Click More Colors to open the Color Selector and mix with the sliders.


Viewing and changing the properties of a graphic

The available properties will vary depending on the type of graphic you've selected.

  1. Click the Select Elements tool Select Elements button on the Draw toolbar and double-click the graphic to display its properties.
  2. Click the Symbol tab and change the desired symbol property.
  3. With point graphics, click the Location tab to view the coordinates of the point. For 3D graphics, such as those created with the 3D Analyst toolbar, you also can view the height of the point.
  4. With line graphics, click the Length tab to view the length of the line and coordinates of the start- and endpoints.
  5. With polygon graphics, click the Area tab to view area, perimeter, and coordinates of the graphic's center.
  6. With point graphics, click the Location tab to see the coordinates of the point.
  7. Click the Size and Position tab to set the graphic's position, anchor point, size, and name properties.

Tips

  • Each map element has a name used to identify the element. When you draw graphics on a map in data view to represent geographic features or important locations, you can enter the name of that feature or location so this name is stored with the graphic as a property of the graphic. In addition, if you use the Find dialog box, Go To XY, My Places, and so on, to add a graphic to your map to represent a place, address, or location you have found, the graphic is automatically given the name of the place.
  • When you use the Drawing > Convert Graphics To Features command to generate a shapefile or feature class from graphics drawn in data view, the name of each graphic is automatically added to the Name field in the output shapefile or feature class that is created by the command.
  • When you add elements like data frames, scale bars, and north arrows onto your map in layout view, ArcMap automatically gives each element a name. For example, the name of a data frame element is always the same as the data frame's name shown in the table of contents. Updating it here will cause an update of the name shown in the table of contents.
  • Developers can use the Element Name (IElementProperties::Name) to access particular graphics or sets of graphics in data view or layout view when writing custom code to identify and manipulate particular graphic elements. This is especially helpful on the layout when writing routines that organize elements or automate the arrangement of elements on layouts.


Editing vertices of a graphic

  1. Click the Select Elements tool Select Elements button on the Draw toolbar and click the graphic with the vertices you want to edit.
  2. Click the Edit Vertices button Edit Vertices button on the Draw toolbar.
  3. If this button is unavailable, you can't edit the vertices of the selected graphic.
  4. Right-click a line and click Add Vertex to add a vertex or right-click over a vertex and click Delete Vertex to delete it.
  5. Click and drag a vertex to move it.


Setting the default symbol properties for new graphics

  1. Click Drawing on the Draw toolbar and click Default Symbol Properties.
  2. Click the appropriate button to set the symbol properties for that type of graphic element.
  3. Click OK.

Tip

  • The default symbol properties are for new graphics created with the Draw toolbar.

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