ArcGIS Desktop fully supports two types of annotation: map document annotation stored in annotation groups and geodatabase annotation stored in geodatabase annotation feature classes. Other annotation types are read-only in ArcGIS Desktop.
The decision about where to store your annotation is an important one. You will need to choose a storage option if you want to manually add text to your maps, when you convert labels to annotation, or when you convert ArcInfo Workstation coverage or SDE 3 annotation.
Generally, if you are working in a multiuser GIS environment or if you have any more than a few hundred pieces of text, you should store your annotation in geodatabase annotation feature classes. If you are not working in a multiuser environment and you have less than a few hundred pieces of text, annotation groups may be a better choice. Annotation groups are also a good place to temporarily store text.
Several significant differences exist in ArcCatalog and ArcMap when working with annotation groups compared to working with geodatabase annotation feature classes. This is especially true when managing your annotation and editing individual pieces of annotation. To learn more about these differences, see the table of text-related tasks in An overview of working with text.
In ArcGIS, labels are the primary alternative to annotation for storing text.
Here are some guidelines for storing text:
- If you are creating a map and your text only applies to the current map, you might store your text in a map document in an annotation group or groups. If you delete the map, this annotation will also be deleted because it's stored in the map document.
- If you want to use your text in more than one map, store your text in a geodatabase in one or more annotation feature classes. Annotation stored in a geodatabase behaves like regular geographic features in that you can add geodatabase annotation as a layer to any map.
- If your data is stored in an ArcSDE geodatabase, store your annotation in that geodatabase to take advantage of versioning and the multiuser editing environment.
- As a general rule, if you have more than a few hundred pieces of text, store your annotation in a geodatabase because ArcMap can access and display geodatabase annotation more quickly than map document annotation. Also, each piece of annotation added to an annotation group increases the size of your map document file (.mxd).
- If you want to use the specialized editing tools for creating and editing annotation in ArcMap, store your annotation in a geodatabase.