6c. Adding map elements

1. Introduction

2. Setting up your project

3. Creating data (first steps)

4. Creating and editing data

5. Creating polygons


6a.  Layer arrangement

6b.  Layout setup

6c.  Adding map elements

6d.  Prepping your map for export

6c.  Adding stuff to your map

By now you should have the bounding box and your map sized appropriately on the layout page.  Now it’s time to start adding in all of the appropriate elements that go on a geologic map.  Here’s a reference list:

(Caveat- this list is NOT inclusive.  All geologic maps will vary with the elements on them; this is only meant to serve as a guide.)

–  Coordinate system grid on your map

–  Map projection and datum

–  North Arrow

–  Scale (both ratio and bar)

–  Legend/ explanation of symbology

–  Author

–  Date

–  Title

Many of these elements can simply be added by using Insert –> “name of thing you’re inserting”, such as text, scale bars, north arrows, etc.  These can all be edited in the layout view; I encourage you to play around with this.  Some elements are more complex to add, so I’ll explain those briefly here:


1.  Go to View –> Data Frame Properties and select the “Grids” tab.

2.  Click on “New Grid”

3.  The next window gives a few choices on what type of grid.  They are all explained here, and if you click on the button next to each grid type, the map to the left shows an example.  Choose the appropriate one for your map.  This example is going to have a lat/ long grid on the final map, so I’m going to choose “Graticule” and give it a name of “lat_long”.  Click “Next”.

4.  These next few steps deal with the interval and symbology of the grid.  These are all up to you, choose appropriate ones for your map.  Remember, if you don’t like how it turns out, you can always return to the “Grid” tab under View –> Data Frame Properties and select “Properties” to make adjustments.

5.  When done, click “OK”.  Now there is a coordinate system grid on your map.


1.  Go to Insert –> Legend.  This will open the “Legend Wizard”, which helps guide you through creating a legend.

2.  The first window allows you to select or remove layers that you want/ don’t want in your legend.  I’ll let you make this call.

3.  The next few windows allow you to manipulate the properties of your legend, give it a title, etc. Again, your call.  The legend can also be edited once it’s placed in the layout.

4.  Click “Finish” when you’re all done.

5.  Arc places your legend on the layout as one big unit.  In order to edit your legend, move it around, change things, etc., you’ll need to make it a graphic element.  Simply done by right-clicking on the legend box, and selecting “Convert to Graphics”.  Next, while everything is still selected, right-click again and select “Ungroup”.  Now (possibly with a little more “un-grouping”, you can edit the individual elements of you legend.

6.  You can also use this right-click –> Convert to Graphics, right-click –> Ungroup method to edit other elements in your layout.

NEXT:  Prepping your map for export

Previous: Layout setup


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