Layer draw order

The order in which layers are listed in the Map Contents panel represents how the layers are drawn on the map. Within the map, the layers listed at the top will draw over those listed below them, and so on, down the list. You can easily move layers in the Map Contents panel to adjust their drawing order.

In addition to setting the draw order of layers, you can use transparency settings to further configure how layers display on the map. See Transparency for more information.


You cannot remove or change the position of the basemap, although you can change to a different basemap.

Effect of draw order on appearance

The draw order affects the appearance of the layers that are displayed on the map. It is common to have the point layers on top, line layers in the middle, and polygon layers on the bottom, but determining the draw order is dependent on the purpose of the map. The following images illustrate the effect of draw order:

Line layer on top of polygon layer. Rivers are on top of cities:

Lines on top of polygon layer

Point layer on top of line layer. Cities are on top of rivers:

Points on top of line layer

Draw order button states

Whether the Bring Forward and Send Backward buttons are enabled or disabled depends on the position of the selected layer and how many layers have been added to the map.

If there is only one layer, neither button is enabled:

Draw order buttons disabled

If the selected layer is on top, only Send Backward is enabled:

Send Backward button enabled

If the selected layer is on the bottom, only Bring Forward is enabled:

Bring Forward button enabled

If the selected layer is in the middle, both buttons are enabled:

Both Draw Order buttons enabled