ArcGIS 10.2.2 on Windows 7 32 bit (new Win 7 computer arriving tomorrow).

I'm a complete novice to ArcGIS starting now (June 2014), so speak loud and slow...

I have 10 years of experience with GIS - just not ESRI, so I know what I want to see, now how do I see it?? I've checked the Help, but following the guidance doesn't seem to work.

I'm drawing a small cemetery (4,000 spaces on a few acres). I want lot labels to appear on the grave lots when I'm at a zoom scale of 1:1 to roughly 1:500 but not any higher. As the user zooms in and out, these labels should remain one size relative to the polygon in which they pertain. So when zoomed out they should be rendered in an illegibly small font. Above that zoom scale (1:501 and further zoomed out) I would like a block number to appear (blocks are on a different layer). I would like the block number to appear only out to about 1:10,000 and then disappear at 1:10,001 and further out. At 1:10,001 and further I would like to see section labels appear.

I've been using the standard Label Manager. Click on Scale Range... and make the appropriate changes to Out beyond and In beyond, but that seems to do nothing. What am I missing to make this work?

There seems to be a link between these zoom scales and the Frame Reference Scale. I have tried a Frame Reference Scale of , 1:300, and 1:24,000. There is no change from one to the other that I can see when I change these.

Also will all these scale zoom visibility features make the jump to a Geodatabase file when I'm finished? This is the most critical part. It will be going to an ArcGIS Online account, and this zoom rendering is what I'm shooting for.

2 Answers 2


When setting up your labels, you'll need to define new label classes, then set up the labels appropriately for each class. Go to the layer properties, then click the Labels tab. Under Method, select this:

label props

Then Add a new class, specify the appropriate Scale Range and Label Field - then just rinse and repeat for as many scale-specific labels as you need.

This is saved in the MXD and not in your data source. I'm not sure if it will make the transition to ArcGIS Online, as I don't have much experience with that.

edit: @chris-w is correct in his comment and answer. If you want different labels to remain the same size as you zoom in and out, you will have to convert the label to annotation.

  • Thank you for that. It seems to be a slightly different way to get the same result. Now I have two more classes of labels. Using the Label Manager I have turned off the Default classes I created earlier and am using only these two new ones created as you suggested. I still am getting the same result, though. I see the labels at the same rendered size through all zoom levels.
    – dchall8
    Jun 5, 2014 at 22:01
  • @dchall8 This solution addresses creating different sized labels for use at different scale(range)s, which is not what you're asking about.
    – Chris W
    Jun 6, 2014 at 6:16

You've got two separate issues here. Ok, you're going to have a third too.

Scale Ranges

It sounds like you're using the Scale Range correctly. Rather than going through the Label Manager, try using the Layer Properties dialog (on the Label tab of course, NOT the General tab). They do the same thing, but maybe you're setting something extra or have something incorrectly highlighted/selected when you do it.

Your lot layer labels should be set to not show at a scale out beyond 500, according to your question. Your block labels should be set to not show in beyond 500 or out beyond 10k. Your section labels would not show at in beyond 10k. There should be no dataframe reference scale set, make sure you hit apply after making changes and try zooming in and out, and double check you haven't reversed your in beyond and out beyond numbers. If it still isn't working, please post a screenshot of your settings.

Reference Scale and labels

Normal default behavior for text and symbols is to draw at the given point size chosen in symbolization regardless of what scale you choose. The dataframe reference scale locks everything at a particular scale. If you have an 8 point symbol or text it only will be 8 point at the reference scale. It will get smaller than 8 point if you zoom out, and larger if you zoom in.

As far as I know, labels are always dynamic - without using the reference scale setting, you cannot make a label a fixed size regardless of scale, and that will make all labels a fixed size. However, you can convert your labels to annotations, and when that conversion happens they are assigned a reference scale. This means you could convert your labels to annotation for two different layers at two different reference scales, as opposed to using a dataframe reference scale and altering the font size. Of course, converting to annotations you lose automatic placement and adjustment (but it can still be linked to the feature). You also gain more precise placement control, but have to move them all around manually. Trade-offs.

Geodatabase implications

Labels are stored in an .mxd. They do not transfer with the data, they are just symbology - like the colors and line widths you pick and the visible scale ranges and everything else. If you convert to annotation you get two options - in the mxd and in a database. Implications for in the mxd should be pretty obvious here. In a database, and they're just another layer. Label size will be fixed, although scale ranges won't. In order to save things like symbology (colors, labels, etc) without an mxd, you need to save a layer (lyr) file. You distribute this with the data, and instead of adding the data directly, the recipient adds the lyr and it displays everything the way you set it up. The geodatabase is just the data, not the symbology.

ArcGIS Online is another thing entirely. I'm not overly familiar with it, but I believe it allows you to configure an online map in much the same way you would an mxd. I do not know if you can 'load' and mxd or if you have to re-set everything. It may let you load a lyr file though. That would all be better served by asking another question (how do I set up an ArcGIS Online map to match my mxd) or reading the help files when you get to that point.

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