Essential grids and graticules vocabulary

The following terms are important when working with grids and graticules:

annotation groupings

Each style has a preset number of annotation groups, and each group can have its own unique symbol. The number of groups displayed in the Groupings tree view corresponds to the graphic associated with its style. The graphic indicates the number of splits and where they occur.

coordinate system zones

Coordinate system zones are polygon feature classes or shapefiles with a defined coordinate system. The feature classes define the extent of any coordinate system zones. The zones will be embedded in or saved to the grid template. The feature class or shapefile should have a short integer field that uniquely identifies each zone and a text field that stores the spatial reference information in coordinate system (prj) text format. For example, a coordinate system zone feature class could be used as the primary coordinate system when creating grids for an area of interest that intersects more than one UTM zone.


Endpoints are points that are generated at the ends of any line feature (segments, lines, or ticks). The endpoints define exact locations and can be used for symbolization or annotation.


A distance that exists between the stop value and the start value for each interval of the pattern.

grid lines

Grid lines represent a coordinate system. There are two types of grid lines: standard and UTM zipper.

grid patterns

The pattern options for grid lines, ticks, points, and segments provide you with the ability to define repeatable component patterns that are customizable through the Grids and Graticules Designer.

grid units

Grid units can be specified in page, map, or relative units.


Pattern values are multiples of the interval length. For example, with an interval of 100 meters, a start value of 1, stop value of 5, and gap value of 2, the resulting pattern would produce components that start at a value of 100, stop before 500 meters is reached, then skip 200 meters before the pattern is repeated again.


The mask component is a single donut-like polygon feature that is drawn above other ArcMap layers but below other grid components. It allows the neatline and its ticks to be displayed while hiding other features in the data frame that are outside the extent of the source polygon.


The neatline component is composed of polyline features in the Segments feature class. These lines follow the boundary of the source polygon, and any number of neatlines can be created.

neatline clipping

Neatlines can be clipped to a specific coordinate system zone when a grid is created for an area of interest that intersects more than one UTM or state plane zone. For example, for an area of interest over UTM zones 10 and 11, you can create grid lines that start and stop at the UTM zone boundaries.


The point component creates a two-dimensional lattice of points that are the intersection of two virtual grid lines. One of the grid lines has an orientation of north–south and the other is oriented east–west.


A collection of lines that create a neatline. Segments can be calibrated (pattern or line at set intervals) or uncalibrated.

standard grid lines

Standard grid lines use only one coordinate system and span the full extent of the area of interest.


An indicator of where a set of features that belong to a component is to begin. The features then repeat themselves (or the extent) until the stop indicator is reached.


An indicator of where a set of features that belong to a component is to end. The actual stopping point of the component falls before the value specified.


Styles are based on the coordinate system type of the annotation's first parent component. For example, if a particular annotation component is generated for an endpoint based on a grid line that is using an ancillary geographic coordinate system, only geographic style options are available.


Ticks are smaller lines that appear along neatlines or grid lines. They are associated with a particular line segment or grid line and cannot exist without that component. Ticks can also appear in corners at the intersection of two line segments.

UTM converging zones

There is a specialized grid line component used to create Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) converging zone grids (UTM zippers). If the area of interest crosses multiple UTM zones, a merging of the grid lines and their ticks is required. This is called the zipper effect. For small-scale maps, this effect may be repeated several times across the extent of the area of interest.

UTM zipper grid lines

UTM zipper grid lines start and stop at the UTM zone boundaries. If more than one zipper grid line component is required, you must highlight the original zipper component and, using the shortcut (context) menu, add the specific number of zippers required.

Related Topics