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Exporting a map

Release 9.3
Last modified April 24, 2009
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About exporting a map

Note: This topic was updated for 9.3.1.

Once you've created a map, you may want to export your map document to an image or graphic interchange file type. The supported export formats, as well as several aspects of exporting a map, are discussed below.
This help topic is a general discussion of export formats supported by ArcMap. More information about any of the options on each format's Export Map dialog box can be accessed by right-clicking the option in question and choosing What's This? from the shortcut menu.


Raster or vector?

Raster files are made up of pixels and have an associated resolution that is usually expressed as the number of pixels per inch (or dpi). Raster files are best at containing images that are made up of many different colors such as photographs or satellite images. They do not scale well and can appear blocky or jagged if increased in size.

Raster file exporters included with ArcMap are BMP, TIFF, JPEG, GIF, and PNG.

Vector files are made up of mathematical descriptions of objects such as points, polygons, lines, and text. Vector files scale well since they do not have an associated resolution, and they will look the same at whatever size they are displayed. Vector files can also contain raster images, although the raster portions may not scale as well as the vector portions.

Vector file exporters included with ArcMap are EMF, EPS, PDF, AI, and SVG.

Vector files are generally smaller in size than a corresponding raster file. However, vector files without embedded fonts may not display with correct symbology or text on a machine that does not have the appropriate fonts installed.


RGB or CMYK?

An RGB color is defined by a combination of red, green, and blue primary colors, each of which is described using an 8-bit integer number, which translates into a value between 0 and 255. This model allows 16,777,216 colors to be described. The RGB color space is said to be additive, or descriptive of emitted light (such as a computer monitor or television set). Black is produced when all three primaries are set to zero (no emitted light), while white is produced when all three primaries are set to 255.

A CMYK color is defined by a combination of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black primary colors, each of which is usually described using a percentage value. This model allows upwards of 100,000,000 colors to be described. The CMYK color space is said to be subtractive, or descriptive of reflected light (such as ink on a printed piece of paper). Black is produced by setting the black (or K) component to 100 percent with the other three components set to 0 percent, while white is produced when all four primaries are set to zero (100 percent light reflected).

Generally speaking, RGB is used for maps intended to be viewed on a monitor (Web pages, slide show presentations, and so on), and CMYK is used for maps intended to be printed. In ArcMap, only PDF, EPS, and Adobe Illustrator exports support both RGB and CMYK color definitions. The remaining formats are RGB only.


What is color depth?

Color depth refers to the number of colors that can be described in one pixel in a raster image file. The number of bits per pixel indicates how much information is stored for each pixel of an image, and it is also referred to as bit depth. The higher the color depth of an image, the larger the output file will be.

Truecolor, or 24-bit color, uses 24 bits of information for each pixel to describe the color of that pixel. This depth allows 16,777,216 different colors to be described. This is the best depth for images containing a large number of colors or color raster data. Because of the large amount of information stored per pixel, this depth can produce relatively large output file sizes. Truecolor images are commonly used for insertion into a Web page or printed publication. In ArcMap JPEG, TIFF, PNG, and BMP formats support 24-bit color.

Eight-bit palette images use 8 bits of information for each pixel. This depth allows only 256 different colors to be described. These images have an associated color map table that stores the colors present in the image. Each color is given an index number between 0 and 255. The color of a given pixel in the image is described using this index number. This depth is best used for images containing a relatively small number of colors or large areas of consistent color. This depth produces files that are about one-third the size of a comparable 24-bit image. Because of their small size, these images are commonly used for web page display or other lightweight applications. In ArcMap, TIFF, GIF, PNG, and BMP formats support 8-bit paletted color.

Eight-bit grayscale images use 8 bits of information for each pixel. This depth allows 256 shades of gray (ranging from white to black) to be described. This depth is best used for images that only contain shades of gray or are to be printed on black-and-white printers. In ArcMap, JPEG, TIFF, GIF, PNG and BMP formats support 8-bit grayscale color.

One-bit monochrome images use only 1 bit of information for each pixel. This means that unlike a grayscale image, pixels are either completely on or completely off. These images are usually displayed in black and white, with on pixels being displayed in white, but can be used for two-color display in some special applications. This bit depth is common in special-use images such as fax transmissions, image masks, and so on. This bit depth produces relatively small output file sizes but lacks the ability to render continuous shades of gray. It is best for maps that contain mostly vector lines or solid areas and shapes. In ArcMap, TIFF, GIF, PNG, and BMP formats support 1-bit color.


Rasterization

Certain symbols (transparency, BMP picture fill symbols, BMP picture marker symbols, BMP picture line symbols, and any derivative thereof*) can cause maps to become rasterized when output.

The effect of rasterization is that all layers below the data layer that contains symbology listed above will be converted to a flat raster image in the output file. All layers above will not be affected.

To avoid rasterization, BMP picture symbols should be replaced with vector-only EMF picture fill symbols or with font character-based symbols, or the Vectorize layers with bitmap markers/fills option should be used. This will cause these symbols to be maintained as editable vectors when exported to a vector format. As transparency is inherently a raster symbol, there is no viable way of avoiding rasterization other than avoiding transparent symbology altogether.

*Using the Vectorize layers with bitmap markers/fills option will prevent BMP picture fill and BMP picture marker symbols from causing rasterization in vector export formats.


Exporting a 1-bit image

There are two options to choose from when exporting a 1-bit image from ArcMap: 1-bit Monochrome Mask and 1-bit Monochrome Threshold. These settings affect the conversion of your map into these 1-bit formats. This color depth is supported by the BMP, PNG, TIFF, and GIF exporters.



Supported export file formats

You can export maps to several industry-standard file formats. These formats are listed and described below.

File format Description
EMF (Windows Enhanced Metafile) EMF files are native Windows graphics files that can contain a mixture of vector and raster data. They are useful for embedding in Windows documents because the vector portions of the EMF can be resized without loss of quality. However, since EMF does not support font embedding and is exclusively a Windows format, it is not commonly used as an interchange format between users.
EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) EPS files use the PostScript page description language to describe vector and raster objects. PostScript is the publishing industry standard for high-end graphics files, cartography, and printing. EPS files can be edited in many drawing applications or placed as a graphic in most page layout applications. EPS files exported from ArcMap support embedding of fonts so that users who do not have ESRI Fonts installed can still view the proper symbology. EPS exports from ArcMap can define colors in CMYK or RGB values.
AI (Adobe Illustrator) AI files are an excellent format for postprocessing in Adobe Illustrator as well as an interchange format for publishing. The ArcMap AI format preserves most layers from the ArcMap table of contents. However, the Adobe Illustrator file format that ArcMap writes does not support font embedding, so users that do not have the ESRI fonts installed may not be able to view AI files with the proper symbology. AI exports from ArcMap can define colors in CMYK or RGB values.
PDF (Portable Document Format) PDF files are designed to be consistently viewable and printable across different platforms. They are commonly used for distributing documents on the Web and are becoming a standard interchange format for content delivery. ArcMap PDFs are editable in many graphics applications and retain annotation, labeling, and attribute data for map layers from the ArcMap table of contents. PDF exports from ArcMap support embedding of fonts and thus can display symbology correctly even if the user does not have ESRI fonts installed. PDF exports from ArcMap can define colors in CMYK or RGB values. For more information on PDF layers, see Advanced PDF features.
SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) SVG is an XML-based file format that has been specifically designed for viewing on the Web. SVG can contain both vector and raster information. This is a good choice for displaying maps on a Web page because it is rescalable and more easily edited than raster files. SVG has been gaining in popularity since the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) selected it as their standard vector Web format. Some Web browsers may require a plug-in to view SVG files; older browsers may not be able to view SVG files at all. SVG supports font embedding, so users who do not have the ESRI fonts installed can still view ArcMap SVG exports with proper symbology. ArcMap can also produce compressed SVG files. The file extension changes to *.SVGZ when this option is enabled.
BMP (Microsoft Windows Bitmap) BMP files are simple, native Windows raster images. BMPs can store pixel data at several bit depths and can be compressed using the lossless RLE method. However in general BMPs are much larger than formats such as JPEG or PNG. They do not scale as well as vector files and may appear blocky or jagged when increased in size. BMPs generated from the data view in ArcMap can be exported with an accompanying world file so that they can be used as georeferenced raster data. BMPs without a world file are commonly used as inserted graphics in other documents.
JPEG (Joint Photographics Experts Group) JPEG files are compressed image files. They support 24-bit color and are a good choice for use on the Web because they provide control over output quality and size and can be substantially more compact than many other file types. The JPEG compression algorithm is lossy and is not as well suited for line drawings and other textual or iconic graphics, and thus the PNG and GIF formats are preferred for these types of images. JPEGs exported from the data view in ArcMap can be generated with an accompanying world file for use as georeferenced raster data. JPEGs without a world file are commonly used on Web pages or as inserted graphics in other documents.
PNG (Portable Network Graphics) PNG is a raster format designed for use on the Web as an alternative to GIF. It supports 24-bit color and is compressed using a lossless compression. PNG files also have the ability to define a transparent color; part of the image can display as transparent in a Web browser, allowing backgrounds, images, or colors to show through. On most images, PNG can achieve greater compression (and thus smaller file sizes) than GIF. PNGs exported from the data view in ArcMap can be generated with an accompanying world file for use as georeferenced raster data. This format is gaining popularity in the Web design community.
TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) TIFF files are the most versatile raster format. TIFFs can store pixel data at several bit depths and can be compressed with either lossy or lossless compression techniques depending on file size and accuracy requirements. They are the best choice for importing into image editing applications across operating systems. However they cannot be natively viewed by a Web browser. ArcMap TIFFs exported from the data view also support georeferencing information in GeoTIFF tags or in a separate world file for use as raster data.
GIF (Graphic Interchange Format) GIF files are a standard raster format for use on the Web. GIFs cannot contain more than 256 colors (8 bits per pixel), which along with optional lossless RLE or LZW compression makes them smaller than other file formats. They are a good choice for maps that contain a limited number of colors but may not display continuous raster data correctly due to the color limitation. GIF files also have the ability to define a transparent color; part of the image can display as transparent in a Web browser, allowing backgrounds, images, or colors to show through. GIFs exported from the data view in ArcMap can be generated with an accompanying world file for use as georeferenced raster data.


How to export a map

Exporting a map as an image snapshot for the Web

ArcMap has four raster formats that produce Web-ready images of the map for use on web pages; these are JPEG, GIF, PNG, and SVG.

  1. Click the File menu and click Export Map.
  2. Navigate to where you want to save the export file.
  3. Click the Save as type drop-down arrow and click JPEG, GIF, PNG, or SVG.
  4. Type a file name for the export file.
  5. Click the word Options on the lower left corner of the dialog box to expand the options.
  6. Choose an output resolution on the General tab.
  7. Web images are usually created at either 96 or 72 dpi. To change the output resolution, click the arrows up or down or type in a new dpi value.
    Optionally, click the Format tab and change additional options there.


  8. Click Save to complete the export, or click Cancel to close the export dialog box without exporting.

Tips

  • If you are working in layout view, you can eliminate the white margin around your image by checking the Clip Output To Graphics Extent option on the Export Map dialog box.
  • If you are working in data view, you can generate a world file for JPEG, GIF, or PNG exports by checking the Write World File check box on the General tab. Although world files are not generally used on Web pages, they can be made available as a separate download for users who would like to use the images as raster data.
  • The ratio listed in the Output Image Quality control determines the effective resolution of raster content on output relative to the chosen output resolution. For instance, if the output image quality ratio is set to 1:2 and the output resolution is set to 300 dpi, the raster content will be output at approximately 150 dpi.


Exporting a map to an interchange and print format

Vector interchange formats are easily usable in other graphics programs or platforms. ArcMap has four exporters that produce these vector interchange formats: PDF, EPS, AI, and EMF.

  1. Click the File menu and click Export Map.
  2. Navigate to where you want to save the export file.
  3. Click the Save as type drop-down arrow and click PDF, EPS, AI, or EMF.
  4. Type a file name for the export file.
  5. Click the word Options on the lower left corner of the dialog box to expand the options.
  6. Choose an Output Resolution on the General tab. The default, 300 dpi, is usually a good choice. If you have raster images in your map, you can reduce the dpi to produce a smaller file, but this may result in a reduction of the image quality. To counteract this, try increasing Output Image Quality. The ratio listed in the Output Image Quality control determines the effective resolution of raster content on output relative to the output resolution. For instance, if the output image quality ratio is set to 1:2 and the output resolution is set to 300 dpi, the raster content will be output at approximately 150 dpi. To change the output resolution or output image quality, click the arrows or move the slider up or down, or type in a new value.
  7. Optionally, click the Format or Advanced tab to edit additional options.



  8. Click Save.


Exporting a map for import into graphics applications

  1. Click the File menu and click Export Map.
  2. Navigate to where you want to save the export file.
  3. Click the Save as type drop-down arrow and click AI or TIFF.
  4. Type a file name for the export file.
  5. Click the word Options on the lower left corner of the dialog box to expand the options.
  6. For an editable mixed raster and vector file, choose AI (Adobe Illustrator) from the Save as type drop-down list. This format creates a layered graphics file that is fully editable in graphics editors such as Adobe Illustrator.
    For high-quality images that are suitable for editing in external software, click TIFF from the Save as drop-down list and change the Output Resolution to 300 dpi or higher. To change the output resolution, click the arrows up or down or type in a new dpi value. AI exports also have an Output Image Quality control that can be changed to affect the quality of raster content in the export.
  7. Click Save.

Tips

  • If you want to export to TIFF, choose an appropriate color depth by clicking the Color Mode drop-down arrow. Using the correct color depth for your map will help keep the file size to a minimum.
  • The ratio listed in the Output Image Quality control determines the effective resolution of raster content on output. For instance, if the output image quality ratio is set to 1:2 and the output resolution is set to 300 dpi, the raster content will be output at approximately 150 dpi.


Exporting a map to create a georeferenced image

  1. Click the File menu and click Export Map.
  2. Navigate to where you want to save the export file.
  3. Click the Save as type drop-down arrow and click any raster file format (BMP, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, or GIF).
  4. Type a file name for the export file.
  5. Click the word Options on the lower left corner of the Export Map dialog box to expand the export options.
  6. Click the General tab at the bottom of the Export dialog box.
  7. To add georeferencing information, check Write World File. This option is only available when you export while in data view. Checking it will create a world file that contains information that is used in conjunction with the exported raster file to tell software where the image is located in the world. The file will have the same name as the image file and a file extension that is based on the first and last letters of the image's file extension plus the letter w. (For example, if you create a TIFF image named MyMap.tif, the world file will be called MyMap.tfw.)
    The TIFF file format has the additional ability to store georeferencing information internally. This is a GeoTIFF. To create a GeoTIFF, click the Save as type drop-down arrow and click TIFF, click the Options arrow to expand the options, then click the Format tab and check Write GeoTIFF Tags. This option is only available when you export while in data view.
  8. You can also click the Formats tab to set format-specific options.
  9. The Color Mode option sets the bit depth of the exported raster.
    The Compression option sets the compression method used to encode the image.
    The Background Color option sets the color used as the background in the exported image.
    GIF, JPEG, and PNG have an Interlaced (or Progressive for JPEG) check box, which creates a raster that draws gradually as it is loaded. ArcMap does not support progressive rasters, so this option should be disabled if the exported raster data will be used in ArcMap.
    PNG and GIF support transparency. They have a Transparent Color option, which selects the color in the map that will be marked as transparent.
  10. Click Save to write the file.

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