An overview of working with graphics

ArcMap contains a set of tools that works on graphics and graphic text. These tools are found on the Draw toolbar. You can use these tools to create and edit graphics. You can quickly draw new squares, lines, circles, and polygons, for example, and change how they appear just by clicking tools. You can convert map elements, such as a legend, to graphics so you can edit their properties and position them more easily. You can also align and distribute multiple graphics or move a graphic above or below another graphic on the page. One advantage to graphics is that you can easily manage different geometry types together.

Working with graphics

Graphics can be placed either in layout view, along with cartographic elements such as scale bars and north arrows, or in data view so the graphics resize with your data as you change the extent of your map.

Learn more about working in layout view with other types of map elements such as neatlines and pictures

Graphics are generally map specific, which means that you will want to store your graphics in individual map documents (.mxd). However, the geodatabase does support the storage of graphics in annotation feature classes. Use this option if you want to use the same set of graphics in many maps or if you need to store your graphics in a geodatabase.

Learn more about the differences between annotation groups and geodatabase annotation

Remember that graphics aren't features and have no associated attribute tables and, therefore, cannot be queried as easily as geographic features.

If you want to store your graphics with your data as features or need to control multiuser editing, it is recommended that you consider using feature template-based editing.

Learn more about creating features using feature templates

Working with graphic text

Adding text to your map is another way to improve how your map communicates its message. You can use many of the graphic tools to display and edit text that is added to the layout view.

Learn more about working with text

Selecting graphics

Select graphics with the Select Elements tool Select Elements on the Draw toolbar. Select an individual graphic by clicking it, or select a group by dragging a rectangle around the graphics. You can also hold down the SHIFT key while selecting to add graphics to, or remove them from, the current selection. You can tell when a graphic is selected because ArcMap draws selection handles around it. When more than one graphic is selected, one graphic has blue handles and the others have green handles. The blue handles indicate the dominant graphic, or the one that ArcMap will use to align other graphics with.

To change the dominant graphic, hold down the CTRL key and click the selected graphic that you want as the dominant one.

If you are in layout view and find that you can't select a graphic because it was added in data view, give the data frame focus.

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