Essential mapping, charting, and visualization vocabulary

This vocabulary list will help you understand some of the concepts found in the mapping, charting, and visualization documentation.

color separation

Color separation is a process in which a map or chart's colors are analyzed and separated according to unique color definitions.


Declination is the angular difference between true north and magnetic north, which changes over time.

definition query

A definition query is a Structured Query Language (SQL) WHERE clause. The WHERE clause is appended to any SQL statement executed on the database. Use definition queries to concisely define the data you want to analyze and limit the number of features visible in a map.

draft mode

Draft mode disables the display of an element in the page layout. The element occupies space on the page, but does not render.


Elements are items in a map document's page layout. These include scale bars, north arrows, data frames, legends, logos, text, and other graphics.

element library

An element library is a geodatabase that stores page layout elements. Element libraries contain four tables: ELM_CATEGORIES, ELM_ELEMENTS, ELM_PRODUCTS, and ELM_SOLUTIONS.

eps file

EPS files use the PostScript page description language to describe vector and raster objects. PostScript is the publishing industry standard for high-end graphics files, cartography, and printing. EPS files can be edited in many drawing applications or placed as a graphic in most page layout applications. EPS files exported from ArcMap support embedding of fonts so that users who do not have ESRI fonts installed can still view the proper symbology. EPS exports from ArcMap can define colors in CMYK or RGB values.


GeoTIFFs are TIFF files with embedded georeferencing information. Embedded georeference information can include ellipsoid, datum, coordinate system, and projection. GeoTIFFs store one spatial reference per file.

grouped element

A grouped element is a set of elements combined into a new element. A grouped element can be ungrouped into individual elements.

masking set

Masks hide features, or sections of features. ArcGIS uses feature layers to mask other feature layers. Masking sets are stored information about ArcGIS masking settings. These sets can be recalled and reapplied to other map documents.


An overprint is an area of overlapping colors that have blended to produce a different color.


Representations are symbol information stored with geometry in a feature class. For more information, see What are representations?

spot color

A spot color is a named color associated with numeric values representing CMYK values and tint.


Views are map settings that can be saved to and retrieved from any geodatabase. They allow you to manage the properties of a data frame and layers so they can be reapplied at any time while allowing you to decide which current map properties to keep and which to override.

vvs file

A *.vvs file contains an exported view. Views are exported from the Production Symbology toolbar to a *.vvs file.

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