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Converting labels to annotation features

Converting labels to annotation features

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About converting labels to annotation features

Note: This topic was updated for 9.3.1.

NOTE: You can create feature-linked annotation only in ArcInfo and ArcEditor.

In ArcMap, you can convert dynamic labels to standard or feature-linked annotation features. If you're unsure whether to convert to standard or feature-linked annotation, see Annotation in the geodatabase.

You can convert labels to standard annotation features from any layer with a geodatabase, coverage, shapefile, or CAD feature class data source. You can create a new standard annotation feature class or add the new annotation to an existing one.

To convert to feature-linked annotation, the layer being labeled must have a geodatabase feature class data source. Unlike when you convert to standard annotation, you always create a new feature-linked annotation feature class in the process—you cannot add the new annotation to an existing feature-linked annotation feature class. The new annotation feature class is created in the same feature dataset as the geodatabase feature class you are labeling or at the root level of the geodatabase if the feature class you are labeling is at the root level of a geodatabase.

How to convert labels to annotation features

  1. Prepare your labels for conversion by ensuring the proper scale and label properties.
  2. To convert labels from one layer, right-click the layer in the ArcMap table of contents. To convert labels from more than one layer, right-click the data frame.
  3. Click Convert Labels to Annotation.
  4. For Store Annotation, click In a database.
  5. Specify the features for which you want to create annotation.
  6. To create feature-linked annotation, check the Feature Linked box. To create standard annotation, leave the box unchecked.
  7. If you're creating standard annotation and want to add the annotation to an existing standard annotation feature class, check the Append box.
  8. If you're creating feature-linked annotation, click the name of the new annotation feature class to change it.
  9. If you're creating standard annotation, click the open folder icon and specify the path and name of the new annotation feature class you will create or, if you're appending, the existing standard annotation feature class to which you're appending.
  10. If you're appending to an existing feature class, skip to step 15.
  11. Click the Properties button.
  12. For information on how to set the Require symbol to be selected from the symbol table, Create annotation when new features are added (disabled for standard annotation), or Update annotation when feature's shape is modified (disabled for standard annotation) options, see Annotation feature class editing properties.
  13. If you are creating the new annotation feature class in a file or ArcSDE geodatabase and you want to use a custom storage keyword, click Use configuration keyword, then type the keyword you want to use.
  14. Click OK.
  15. Some labels may not currently display on the map because there is no room for them. To convert these labels, check the Convert unplaced labels box. This saves the unplaced labels in the annotation feature class, allowing you to position them later in an ArcMap edit session.
  16. Click Convert.
  17. If you checked the Convert unplaced labels box and want to place the unplaced annotation, see Placing unplaced annotation features.


  • You can convert labels from more than one layer at the same time. Right-click the data frame, click Convert Labels to Annotation, and complete the settings for each layer as described above.
  • After labels have been converted, new annotation classes are automatically added to the map and appear in the ArcMap table of contents.
  • If you convert layers with multiple label classes, each label class becomes an annotation class in the annotation feature class.
  • When converting into an existing annotation feature class, ensure that the current map scale (or data frame reference scale if set) matches the reference scale of the existing feature class. You will receive a warning if these scales do not match and you will not be able to proceed until they match.
  • If there are errors when converting, an error message and dialog box appear. You can get more information about the errors by opening the log files listed in the dialog box.
    • A log file is only created if there are conversion errors.
    • The file is created in your user temp directory, which is commonly found under \Documents and Settings\user\Local Settings\Temp.
    • The log file will have the name GL<feature class name>#.log. For example, if the target annotation feature class is AlbanyAnno, then the first error log file created for this target will be named GLAlbanyAnno0.log. The second file will be named GLAlbanyAnno1.log, and so on.
    • The errors listed in the log file are geodatabase errors associated with loading or changing features.

  • If you are labeling a geometric network feature class, you should convert these labels to feature-linked annotation after building the geometric network. This is recommended because when features are snapped in the geometric network building process, their geometry is modified in such a way that linked annotation features are not updated.
  • If you are working with an ArcSDE geodatabase, when possible, convert your labels to annotation before you version your data. This will eliminate the processing time required for reconciling and posting the edited version back to the parent version.

See Also

  • About labeling
  • Displaying labels
  • Overview of creating annotation
  • Placing unplaced annotation features