What's new for symbols and styles in ArcGIS 10

Finding appropriate symbols to apply to your features and graphics is easy in ArcGIS 10 because you can search for symbols without knowing in which style files they are stored. You can search from within all the styles that are installed with ArcGIS 10, or you can limit search results by referencing just the styles you want to work with.

Each symbol now has searchable tags that describe its graphic characteristics, such as its color or type. These tags can be modified in your own custom styles to describe any relevant aspect of the symbol, such as a related project, map, layer, scale, or specification.

Learn more about searching for symbols

You can arrange the way that symbols are organized in the Symbol Selector dialog box. You can group symbols by the style file in which they are contained or by their category. You can emphasize the appearance or the title of a symbol by choosing icon view or list view, respectively. Pausing the pointer over a symbol on the Symbol Selector dialog box opens a pop-up that lists relevant information for each symbol. You can resize the Symbol Selector dialog box to see more symbols at once.

Symbol Selector dialog box

Symbol tags

To return useful search results, each symbol contains descriptive tags. Tags are strings that identify key information about each symbol. They can include references to the appearance of a symbol, its origin, its usage, or any combination of those. Tags contain ASCII characters and can be up to 255 characters long.

The styles that are installed with ArcGIS 10 are read-only; they cannot be modified from within ArcMap, ArcGlobe, or ArcScene. The tags on the symbols in these styles are prepopulated to reflect the graphic properties of the symbols, such as the primary color, the symbol type, and the font that it was built from in the case of a character marker.

When custom styles are created or referenced in ArcGIS 10, tags are added to the symbols within the style. These can be edited as necessary on the Style Manager dialog box. Tags can be entered directly when you save a new symbol from within the Symbol Selector dialog box using the Save As button. Here, you can also choose a specific style to save the symbol into.

Item Properties dialog box

You can also add or modify symbol tags from the report view of the Style Manager dialog box:

Style Manager dialog box

Referencing styles

Map documents reference one or more styles. By default, your personal style and ESRI.style are referenced, but you can change this set by referencing other styles. You manage the referenced set from the Style References dialog box, accessible from both the Symbol Selector dialog box and the Style Manager dialog box. The Style References dialog box lists all the styles that are in the current style directory (by default at <installation path>\ArcGIS\Desktop10.0\Styles). You can browse to a custom style to reference it, or create a new style from this dialog box.

Style References dialog box

If you want to define exactly which styles are referenced each time you open a new map document, choose those styles on the Style References dialog box, then click the Set as Default List button. New map documents will open referencing this set of styles.

Learn more about referencing styles in a map document

Style management

The Style Manager dialog box is now accessible directly from the Customize menu.

Access the Style Manager from the Customize drop-down.

The Style References command that was accessible from the Tools > Styles menu in previous releases has been superseded by the Style References dialog box accessible from the Symbol Selector dialog box and the Style Manager dialog box. The Export Map Styles command is no longer available directly in the user interface. You can access it from Customize > Customize Mode > Commands > Tools.

Like the Symbol Selector dialog box, the Style Manager dialog box is now resizable, making it easier to view many symbols at once. The report view has an additional column when a symbol (marker, line, fill, or text) table is selected, allowing you to view the tags of each symbol and modify them if the style is not read-only. ESRI-provided styles are read-only, but you can copy symbols from them to paste into other styles.

Learn more about managing style contents

Style Manager dialog box