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Map layouts and map printing

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Last modified July 28, 2009
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A layout is a collection of map elements laid out and organized on a page. Common map elements include one or more data frames—each containing an ordered set of map layers, a scale bar, north arrow, map title, descriptive text, and a legend. Layout view is where you add map surrounds, frames, graticules, and other finishing touches to a map. What you see on the layout is what you get if you print or export the map to the same page size.
Learn more about laying out and printing maps

Creating a map layout

Below are the general steps for laying out a map in ArcMap.
  1. Create, edit, and symbolize your data as appropriate.
  2. In layout view, click the Insert menu to add elements onto your layout. If you have more than one data frame in your map, the elements you insert will relate to the active data frame (to activate a data frame, click it with the Select Elements tool). For example, when you add a scale bar to the map, it will reflect the scale of the active data frame and update if you change the scale of that data frame. Once you've added an element to your map, you can right-click it and click Properties to set additional options.

  3. The Insert menu is used to add various elements to your map

  4. Add other text or graphics, such as metadata notes, borders, and frames, using the Draw toolbar. You can use guides, grids, and rulers to help you precisely position elements on your page. The commands on the Graphics toolbar or the Drawing menu of the Draw toolbar can help align, group, and order the elements on the page. In addition, you can use the Data Frame Properties dialog box to create other effects such as inset maps (extent rectangles), clip the shapes of data frames, and add borders and graticules to data frames.

  5. Learn more about the tools on the Draw toolbar
    Learn more about the tools on the Graphics toolbar
    Learn more about working with data frames in layout view

  6. Edit and finish your map elements to complete your map. As a last step, you may need to convert some of your map elements to graphics so you can have complete control over their appearance and make manual edits to the elements. However, as a graphic, the element loses its connection to the data frame. For example, if you convert a legend to a graphic then later add a layer to your map, the legend as a graphic will not reflect this update.

  7. Print or publish your map. You can also save your layout, including the data in the map, as a template and use it as a starting point for further mapping and analysis. Map templates make it easy to produce maps that conform to a standard, and they save time by letting you do the layout work for all the maps in the series at once.

Printing and exporting from ArcMap

There are numerous options for map printing and exporting in ArcGIS. A map can be printed directly to a printer, or it can be exported to a graphics file such as PDF or JPEG. You can print or export from data view or layout view in ArcMap. From layout view, the page layout will be output; from data view, the visible extent of the data frame will be output.
The ArcMap printing functionality includes the Windows Printer Engine for typical map prints, as well as the ArcPress printer engine for printing large or complex maps to a large format printer.

The ArcMap map export functionality allows you to export a map to any of 10 formats. These include five raster formats: BMP, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, and GIF; and five vector formats: EMF, PDF, EPS, SVG, and Adobe Illustrator (AI).
Learn more about printing a map
Learn more about printing with the ArcPress printer engine
Learn more about exporting a map

Common tasks with layouts and map output

Common task Where to go for more information
Setting the layout page size and orientation Setting up the page
Saving a map as a template Working with map templates
Adding north arrows, scale indicators, and legends to a layout Adding north arrows, scale bars, and other map elements
Adding titles and other text to a layout Adding new text to a map
Working with titles
Adding and positioning graphics, pictures, borders, and objects on a layout Working with graphic elements, pictures, and neatlines
Aligning, distributing, and grouping graphics
Moving, rotating, and ordering graphics

Turning on rulers and guides to help precisely position and align layout elements on the page Using rulers, guides, and grids
Printing a map Printing a map
Printing with the ArcPress printer engine
Exporting a map to PDF, TIFF, JPEG, and other formats Exporting a map

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