GIS Cookbook: Cartographic Design - Automatically Labeling your Map 
Keywords: Presentation, map, labels, place names, identification, batch, layout
Category: Cartographic Design
Software: ArcView 3.2

Problem: How do I add labels to my map?

Description: You would like to add text labels to all the objects in one or more of your data layers. In this recipe, labels will be added automatically displaying the text in your attribute table.

1) Make sure your map is the set to the zoom of your liking before proceeding. Changing the zoom on your map after you add labels may change the size and placement of the labels.

2) Click on the theme to which you would like to add labels. In the following image, the theme called "Ocean" has been selected. To highlight the theme "US States," we clicked on it with the mouse.

U.S. States theme legend not selected.

Notice below the "US States" theme has now been highlighted.
U.S. States theme legend selected.

3) Select Theme -> Autolabel.

Theme -> Auto Label.

4) The Auto-label window will appear.

Label Field window.

To choose your label names, click on the pull down menu for Label field at the top of the window. Here we have chosen the attribute column titled "State_abbr."

Note: If there are no options in the Label Field window See Pitfall 1.

5) Once you have selected all the appropriate settings click Ok .

6) Labels should appear on your map on the appropriate places.

Notice the green labels are overlapping. It may be helpful to alter the size of the font being used.

7) If you are not satified with the appearence of the labels, you can edit all your labels at once by first selecting all of them by keeping your mouse button down and highlighting the entire labeled area.

Selecting all the labels allows you to change their display all at once.

8) Then to change the font style, size, or color, press Control P and choose your new text properties from the pop-up Palette window.

Now the labels are presented at a more appropriate size.

If your labels do not fit the screen properly, it is helpful to choose a smaller font size.

After resizing your labels, it may be necessary to move your labels back into the proper location.

If you would like to move the labels, click once on the label you'd like to move and four black square should appear around the label text.
Click and hold, then drag to move the labels to a new location. Repeat this process to move the labels over one by one.

9) There are a few other properties that you may want to change to fit the style of your presenation. To see the other options, double click on one of the labels and the Text Properties menu should appear. After you are done, click OK.

Authored by: Benjamin N. Sprague Modified: 9/11/03

Copyright © 2002-2014 by Regents of University of California, Santa Barbara
Cookbook: Ben Sprague, Ethan Sundilson, Carlin Wong, Sam Ying