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Create labels (Map Viewer Classic)


A new Map Viewer is now available. The new Map Viewer was previously available as a separate beta installation but is now available in the portal automatically. Open it from the app launcher to get started. To learn more, see the new Map Viewer help documentation.

Maps can display large amounts of geographic data in layers that generally overlap. The way you draw your layers helps to describe and identify features, but sometimes you need more than just a particular symbol or color to convey what you want to say with your map. This is when labeling features can help. Labels are short pieces of text that describe features in a layer and help your audience understand the features they see. The text for a label is usually derived from the layer attributes. Select one or more attributes you want to show—for example, the name or type of feature.

You can also create a custom attribute expression written in Arcade to label a feature layer. For example, you can create an Arcade expression to derive a yearly sales figure for individual sales territories by summing the value of monthly sales fields. If an expression is already available for the layer, you can use it for labeling. You can also edit your Arcade expression directly in Map Viewer Classic.

Map Viewer Classic automatically places labels on the map on or near the features they describe. You can control the text size, color, and style to help differentiate labels from different layers.

Create labels

You can create labels for features in the following types of layers:

  • Feature layers (hosted and ArcGIS Server), including streaming feature layers
  • ArcGIS Server map image layers that support dynamic layers
  • Individual layers from an ArcGIS Server map image layer
  • OGC WFS layers
  • CSV on the web
  • Layers from files

  1. Verify that you are signed in and have privileges to create content.
  2. Open the map in Map Viewer Classic, click Details, and click Contents.
  3. Browse to the sublayer that contains the features you want to label, click More Options More Options, and click Create Labels.
  4. Check the Label Features box if it is not already checked.
  5. Do one of the following to specify the label text:
    • From the Text drop-down menu, select a field value to use as your label. You can also type static text instead of or in addition to the field value.
    • To use a custom Arcade expression that has been created for the layer, select it at the bottom of the Text drop-down menu. If you want to edit the expression or its name, click the Edit Expression button and use the editor window to edit it.
    • If you want to create an Arcade expression, select New Expression from the Text drop-down menu and use the editor window to create your expression, including giving it a name. You can use existing expressions to build new expressions, but certain variables may not work across profiles. To use an existing expression, select it from the Existing tab in the editor window.

    If you need help with any of the Arcade functions, click the Information button beside the function to see reference information about the function.

  6. Do any of the following to specify how to display the labels:
    • Make any adjustments to the size, style, and color of the text.
    • Check the box to add a halo outline around the text and choose the width and color of the halo.
    • Choose how to align the label relative to the feature.
  7. Click OK when you are finished creating your labels.
  8. Browse to the layer that you want to save, click More Options More Options, and click Save Layer to save the configuration as a property of the item.

    You can only save item properties if you own the layer or if you save it as a new item.

  9. If you have more than one layer with labels, organize the layers to affect how the labels are displayed.

    The layer at the top of your map contents is labeled first and has the most labels. The layer under your map contents is labeled next and has fewer labels, and so on.

  10. Click Save from the top of Map Viewer Classic to save the labels to the map.
  11. To remove or change the labels, click More Options More Options, click Manage Labels, apply the change, and click OK.

Labeling considerations

Keep the following in mind when labeling:

  • Map Viewer Classic places as many labels on the map as possible without overlapping them. Thus, in areas where features are tightly clustered, some features may not get labeled. As you zoom in to an area, more labels appear.
  • Labeling priority follows the layer order in your map from top to bottom. Layers at the top are labeled first and will have the most labels. There is no guarantee that the labels will be positioned exactly where you want them. Thus, dynamic labeling is best suited for maps where you don’t need precise control and only want to label a few layers.
  • Map Viewer Classic can display feature layers published from ArcGIS Pro that include labels derived from an Arcade expression. While these labels can be viewed in the map, the expression cannot be edited in Map Viewer Classic at this time.
  • Labels authored in ArcGIS Pro may look different in Map Viewer Classic.