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I've added symbols to one of my point shapefiles, but for several datapoints this has resulted in symbols stacked on top of each other because there are multiple sample types for one sample location (i.e. water, sediment, and benthic samples collected at one station). The result is a cluttered mess! Can I bring a few of my symbols away from the location and have leaders point to the sampling station?

I'm working with ArcView so I can't use the "Disperse Markers" tool. If I download QGIS and deal with my markers in that environment, will my changes "stick" if I bring the layer back into ArcView? (I haven't used QGIS before; is this even possible?)

The Maplex extension suggestion doesn't seem to apply to my situation as I am attempting to remove overlap from symbols, not text. I am tring to determine if I can bring some of my symbols (I have 20 different symbols in the layer in question) out on leaders to aviod clutter. Is this even possible? I don't mind putting in a extra time to "fiddle" with my symbols.

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Which software are you using to render the points? – mkadunc Sep 22 '11 at 20:29
Disperse Markers requires an ArcInfo license. – hgil Sep 23 '11 at 18:06
@Megz, One option would be to make additional dataframes (to zoom in closer) for those symbol areas that are crowded. – artwork21 Oct 19 '11 at 19:38

In QGIS there is a "Point Displacement" renderer that handles overlapping point symbols.

The ArcMap tool is called "Disperse Markers" I think. It requires an ArcInfo license. (Thanks to @hgil for this information!)


The "changes" won't stick because there are no changes to the data. The data is only rendered differently. What's your final goal? Maybe you can finish the project in QGIS anyway.

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The best method for automating leader line creation in ArcGIS is to use the Maplex extension.

  1. Turn on Maplex.
  2. Open up Label Manager.
  3. Highlight the Default option on the left for the layer you want to assign leader lines to.
  4. Change Offset from 1 to 15.
  5. Click the symbol button and select the Bullet leader option (all the way down in the list) and apply.
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This ArcGIS forum post suggests that the ET GeoWizards extension may have this capability through a tool called "Disperse Points", but I have never used it and it appears to be part of the "paid" extension.

Here is a good Esri Blog that discusses the topic.

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