Building common symbols with representations

With the control provided by geometric effects and marker placement styles, representations can be used to create intelligent symbols to solve some common challenges in cartographic symbology.

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Synchronizing dashes on polygon outlines

One common challenge in symbology is where multiple features share a common edge and the outlines for the features do not match. This situation is undesirable, and the most common solution is to convert polygons into linear features and add the new linear features into the map. The outlines of the polygon symbols are not displayed, and the symbology is provided by the linear features. The symbology of the linear features will match exactly. Although this method works, it requires extra data and additional feature layers.

Using representations achieves the same results and avoids the need for additional data and layers in the map. The goal is to have the patterns for each line or outline start and stop at the same location. Representation control points are used to indicate the start and stop locations for a dash pattern. Use either the Set Representation Control Point At Intersect or the Set Representation Control Point By Angle geoprocessing tools to add representation control points at key locations along the polygon outlines to force the placement and synchronization of dashes. Alternatively, use the Add control points geometric effect, or place representation control points manually along features that share a coincident edge or vertex.

Synchronizing markers with dashes

A common challenge in symbology is getting markers and dashes in a line symbol to match up. Representation symbology can be dynamically adjusted to fit the geometry of the feature, so it is important to make sure that all symbol levels in a representation rule are adjusted in the same manner. Achieving the desired result requires the use of geometric effects and marker placement styles.

An example of markers synchronized with dashes.
Markers synchronized with dashes

To synchronize markers with dashes, use the Dashes geometric effect with the same settings on both the line symbol layer and the marker symbol layer. On the marker symbol layer, set the marker placement style to On line, and set the Relative to property to Line middle.


Alternatively, you can put the Dashes geometric effect in the global effects component of the rule so it applies to both symbol layers.

Making a dash-dot-dot line symbol

The main consideration in constructing a dash-dot-dot-style line symbol is choosing a marker that fits between two dashes, leaving room on both sides. The goal is to place multiple markers in the gap between dashes. Achieving the desired result requires the use of geometric effects and marker placement styles.

An example of a dash-dot-dot line symbol.
A dash-dot-dot line symbol

To synchronize two markers between dashes, set up a rule following these guidelines:

Making a dashed dash line symbol

Placing a repeating pattern within another pattern is a handy way to construct a symbol that is otherwise too long or too complex to enter as a single pattern.

The red dashed line in the images below is added just to show how the dashed dash fits in the same space as the dash.

Dashed line
A dashed line
Dashed dash line
A dashed dash line

To achieve this style of symbol, place two consecutive Dashes geometric effects within a single line layer. The second one will apply to the dynamic geometry of the first, so it will dash the dashes.

Making a scalloped line symbol

A scalloped line can be constructed using the Wave and the Offset geometric effects. Using the Wave effect by itself produces waves with peaks and valleys (tops and bottoms), while using the Wave and Offset effects together causes the wave effect to create a wave with only peaks or tops. In the images below, the green line indicates the underlying geometry of the feature, and the blue line indicates the result of the geometric effects.

Wave geometric effect
Wave geometric effect
Wave and Offset geometric effects
Wave and Offset geometric effects

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