Essential text vocabulary

This document introduces some vocabulary that is essential to understanding the Adding text to a map help. Some definitions are linked to documents with more thorough descriptions.


Descriptive text based on one or more feature attributes. Labels are placed dynamically on or near features based on user-defined rules and in response to changes in the map display. Labels cannot be individually selected and modified by the user.


Text or graphics that can be individually selected, positioned, and modified. Annotation may be manually entered or generated from labels. Annotation can be stored as features in a geodatabase or as map annotation in a data frame. There are two types of geodatabase annotation: standard annotation, which is not formally associated with features in the geodatabase, and feature-linked annotation, which is associated with a specific feature in another feature class through a relationship class.

Graphic text

Graphic text is useful for adding information on and around your map that exists in page space, as opposed to annotation, which is stored in geographic space. Dynamic text is a type of graphic text that, when placed on a map layout, will change dynamically based on the current properties of the map document, data frame, or Data Driven Page.

Reference scale

A reference scale on your data frame forces your labels to scale as you zoom in and out. By default, labels do not scale. That is, they stay the same size on the page regardless of the map scale. Though they stay the same size on the page, they take up more geographic space on the map as you zoom out and less space as you zoom in.

Text symbol

A symbol defined by font, size, character spacing, color, and so on, used to annotate maps and geographic features.

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