Imagine that you work for a small city and you need to make a map for the assessor. This map must have parcels labeled with a two-part parcel number, lot lines labeled with their length, and streets labeled with their names. You've almost finished the map, but the labels aren't quite right. Now you are going to use the Maplex Label Engine to complete the labeling; then you will share the map so it can be reused by other departments in the city.
The first step to improve the labels on your map is to start ArcMap and turn on the Maplex Label Engine.
- Start ArcMap.
- Click the Open button on the Standard toolbar.
- Navigate to the Parcels.mxd map document in the Maplex directory where you installed the tutorial data. (C:\ArcGIS\ArcTutor is the default location.) If the Getting Started window opens, choose to browse for an existing map and open Parcels.mxd.
The Parcels map opens. This map contains several layers in a data frame named Parcel Map. Two of the layers, Streets and Parcels, have been labeled and have label expressions already built for them. You will improve the way their labels are drawn on the map. Another layer, Parcel Boundaries, is not currently labeled. You will add labels for this layer.
Enabling the Maplex Label Engine
By default ArcMap opens using the Standard Label Engine. You must set the Maplex Label Engine as the label engine for the data frame.
- Right-click the data frame and click Data Frame Properties.
The Data Frame Properties dialog box appears.
- Click the General tab.
This map has a reference scale of 1:1,200. This means that, regardless of the current map scale, the feature and font symbol sizes drawn on-screen are scaled relative to their size at 1:1,200 scale. Zooming out makes the symbols and fonts appear smaller, and zooming in makes them appear larger. When you are making a map that will be printed at a particular scale, it is a good idea to set the reference scale before you begin labeling the map. Otherwise, you will not have a clear idea how the map labels will appear when the map is printed; more labels will appear on the map when you are zoomed in and fewer when you are zoomed out. With a reference scale, labels function more like annotation.
- Click the Label Engine drop-down arrow and click Maplex Label Engine.
- Click OK.
The Maplex Label Engine automatically starts to recalculate the placement of the map's existing labels. Some of the labels that were previously visible may disappear, and the formatting of others may change. You will adjust the label placement settings later to ensure that all the labels will be placed and formatted to suit your map design.
Adding the Labeling toolbar
The Maplex Label Engine enables some tools on the Labeling toolbar. You'll add the Labeling toolbar to ArcMap and use these tools to label your map.
- Click Customize > Toolbars and click Labeling.
Because the Maplex Label Engine has been enabled, all items on the Labeling toolbar are active. You can dock the toolbar to the ArcMap window, or you can leave it floating.
The tools on the Labeling toolbar are as follows:
- Abbreviation Dictionaries—Lets you specify how words in labels are abbreviated.
- Key Numbering—Lets you specify how key numbering groups are formatted.
- Use Maplex Label Engine—Lets you switch the Maplex Label Engine on or off for the active data frame.
- Options—Lets you set basic and advanced Maplex Label Engine options for the active data frame.
- Label Manager button —Lets you control all the label classes in your map from a single dialog box.
- Label Priority Ranking button —Lets you control the order in which label classes are placed. More of the labels from higher-priority classes are usually placed.
- Label Weight Ranking button —Lets you control the relative importance of features as barriers to label placement.
- Lock Labels button —Locks the labels displayed in the current extent. This allows you to navigate around a map without having to wait for the label placement to be recalculated each time you pan or zoom.
- Pause Labeling button —Lets you suspend the drawing of labels while you continue to work with your data.
- View Unplaced Labels button —Shows the labels that could not be placed in a different color (the default color is red).
- Placement Quality drop-down list—Choosing the Fast option allows you to place labels quickly using a simple calculation. Best uses a more complex calculation and takes longer.