About converting coverage, CAD, VPF, PC ARC/INFO or SDE 3 annotation to map document annotation

ArcGIS supports ArcInfo Workstation coverage, CAD, SDE 3, VPF, and PC ARC/INFO annotation. You can display these formats in ArcMap, but they are read-only. If you want to edit the annotation, you can either convert it to map document annotation stored in an annotation group or import it into a geodatabase feature class.

Converting to map document annotation is a useful option if you have less than a few hundred pieces of annotation and you are only planning on using the converted annotation in the current map.


While using map document annotation is supported by ArcGIS, it is a better practice to convert your annotation to geodatabase annotation.

Learn more about importing coverage, CAD or VPF annotation

Learn more about importing SDE3 or PC ARC/INFO coverage annotation

Pseudo items and annotation appearance

Coverage annotation is converted to map document annotation as it appears in ArcMap. For this reason, you should carefully set up the display of your coverage annotation in ArcMap before you convert. You can change the display properties of your coverage annotation in ArcMap on the Symbols tab of the Layer Properties dialog box. Either choose a new text symbol or change the properties of the default text symbol (Arial 14 point).

In both ArcMap and ArcInfo Workstation, the display of coverage annotation is driven by special fields in the annotation coverage's text attribute table called pseudo items. These fields are visible in ArcMap in the coverage annotation layer's attribute table. Some examples include $ALIGN, $JUSTIFY, and $SIZE. Pseudo items are used differently in ArcMap than they are in ArcInfo Workstation. Also, map document annotation does not use pseudo items at all. Consequently, there are a couple of important rules to keep in mind when displaying and converting coverage annotation in ArcMap:

Annotation size

The pseudo item $SIZE stores the text size in map units for coverage annotation. Since ArcGIS stores annotation text size in page units (for example, points), when you convert annotation whose $SIZE does not equal zero, ArcMap will automatically calculate a text symbol size in page units for the converted annotation based on the $SIZE value. In the other situation—where $SIZE equals zero—the text symbol size you specify on the Layer Properties dialog box for your coverage annotation is used for the converted annotation text symbol size.

As with all other annotation, the display of coverage and SDE 3 annotation is not affected by the data frame reference scale. This means that unlike converting labels to annotation features, when converting coverage and SDE 3 annotation, the data frame reference scale is not important. However, when you convert, you must make sure that the current map scale matches the reference scale of the target annotation group. Unlike converting labels to annotation, you will not be shown any warning messages if these scales do not match.