About adding new text to a map

Text serves a variety of purposes on a map, and ArcMap supports three main types: labels, annotation, and graphic text. ArcMap has several tools for creating new annotation and graphic text on a map. You can enter horizontal text, text that curves, and text that has a callout or leader line. To speed the task of adding descriptive text for features, you can use the Label tool Label to click a feature and automatically add text to annotate it. You can also add dynamic text to the layout that will change dynamically based on the current properties of the map document, data frame, or Data Driven Pages.

Learn more about dynamic text

Once you have text on your map, you can use the tools on the Draw toolbar to change its position, appearance, and text string.

This topic focuses on creating and editing map document annotation and graphic text. While you can follow these steps to create and edit geodatabase annotation, there are powerful, easy-to-use editing tools in ArcMap designed specifically for working with geodatabase annotation.

Learn more about creating and editing geodatabase annotation

When using the tools on the Draw toolbar to add text, unless you specify otherwise, new text will be added to the <Default> annotation group of your data frame. You can change this by setting Active Annotation Target.

Learn about the active annotation target

By default, the Select Elements tool becomes active after you add text. If you want the text tools to remain active instead, click Customize > ArcMap Options and check the Keep drawing tools active after creating graphic box on the General tab.

Adding labels vs. adding annotation or graphic text

Labels are stored differently from annotation and graphic text. ArcMap labels are placed dynamically and are the easiest way to quickly add descriptive text for many features based on feature attributes. To learn how to turn on labels, see Displaying labels.

By contrast, ArcGIS annotation and graphic text are editable and easily support adding individual pieces of text that are not associated with any map features.

Learn more about working with annotation and labels

You can create annotation for a number of features at once by converting from labels.

Learn about converting labels to annotation

Ways to add new text

To add new map document annotation or graphic text to your map, use the Text tools on the Draw toolbar in ArcMap. These tools let you create new text in these situations:

You can add dynamic text to the map layout by clicking the Insert menu. Dynamic text is a type of graphic text that changes based on the current value of its respective property. It is only available on the map layout.

There are seven types of dynamic text:

You can change the way the text is displayed by changing its symbol, which will change the display of the entire text string, or by adding text formatting tags, which allows you to create mixed-format text.

Storage options when adding text

ArcGIS gives you several storage options for text that you need to be aware of when you add new text to your map.

If you are adding text to your map that is associated with either features or geographic spaces on your map (for example, oceans or mountain ranges), you should add annotation. Within this category, you can add your text as map document annotation or geodatabase annotation.

You should store your text in the map document only if you want to use the text in one particular map and only if you have relatively few pieces of text to add (less than a few hundred). You can use annotation groups to further organize map document annotation. Unless you specify otherwise, new text added with the tools on the Draw toolbar is added as map document annotation in the <Default> annotation group.

Learn more about annotation groups

You should store your text in the geodatabase if you want to use the same text in several maps or if you have more than a few hundred pieces of text to add. To add text to an annotation feature class stored in a geodatabase, use the ArcMap editing tools.

To add text around your map that stays fixed on the map page even if the map scale or extent changes, you should use graphic text. This text is sometimes referred to as layout text because you can only create it in layout view in ArcMap.

To learn more about annotation storage options, see the following topics:

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