A page layout (often referred to simply as a layout) is a collection of map elements organized on a virtual page designed for map printing. Common map elements include one or more data frames (each containing an ordered set of map layers), a scale bar, north arrow, map title, descriptive text, and a legend. For geographic reference, you can add grids or graticules.
Though page layouts can be exported and used electronically, they are primarily designed for printing. Page layouts can have either a landscape (wide) or portrait (tall) orientation. Page size varies depending on the specifications for the output. What you see on the layout is what you get if you print or export the map to the same page size.
A page layout can also be used to author pages of a map book.
Learn more about building map books with ArcGIS
Questions to consider when designing your layout
Here are some design considerations for working with map layouts:
- Will the map stand alone, or will it be part of a series of maps that share a similar design? If your map has multiple pages, you should consider using Data Driven Pages.
- What size will the printed map be? Use this to set your layout's page size.
- How will the page be oriented? You can use the Page and Print Setup dialog box to orient your page as either portrait or landscape.
- How many data frames will your map have?
- Will the map have other map elements such as a title, north arrow, and legend?
- Will the map contain graphs or reports to complement the geographic view of the data?
- How will scale be indicated on the map?
- How will the map elements be organized on the page?