I am working on several layers that share similar symbology in ArcGIS for Desktop (Basic). I'm trying to remove duplicate Symbology from the legend. Manually I can do it by opening the properties dialog box > selecting the symbology tab > selecting layers to remove (see jpg2), but this is time consuming.

This is ArcGIS for Desktop (Basic) 10.2.2 & python 2.7.5. data view of the map layer properties

In jpg3+4 the attribute table for the 2 layers was added attribute table-landuse1 attribute table-landuse2

Here the legend is built, but there is duplicate symbology as well and it is unecessary. Now, the maps contains 32 layers with a multiple duplicate symbology. LEGEND

Finally, i want that the legend will composed of the two layers and will look like that:

enter image description here

I am looking for a solution both manually and via python script.

  • 1
    What software & version are you working with? Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 11:11
  • 2
    I'm not clear what you are trying to do so can you edit your question to clarify that, please? Perhaps you can include a picture of the Table of Contents and then explain step by step how you resolve one issue with it so that we can then advise on any automation options.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 11:37
  • Hello, now added more comments to be more clear-thanks
    – newGIS
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 7:43
  • 3
    Instead of adding all 32 layers to your legend, create a single "dummy" symbology layer that has all the classes you need to show on your map and add it to the legend.
    – Nxaunxau
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 9:29
  • i already try in but it take a lot of time
    – newGIS
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 11:18

1 Answer 1


Just open the Legend Properties, click the General tab, select the layer(s) you want to remove from the legend under Legend Items (you can use Ctrl to select several layers at once) and click the double leftward arrow button, see picture below:

enter image description here

If you only have about 32 layers, it will probably be faster than writing a Python script and define which layers should be kept and which should be removed from the legend.

  • I can not remove an entire layer because a different symbology that I do need to see in the legend will disappear
    – newGIS
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 10:54
  • 3
    You can't do this with Python. And removing categories manually in the Layer Properties will hide some of the features displayed as well. As @Nxau suggests you should create a dummy layer for the symbology, e.g. by merging all landuse shapefiles together.
    – GISGe
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 11:16
  • @newGIS Please edit your question, because removing duplicate symbology from the legend is what you are asking...which is what this answer does. Here, in your comment state that is not what you want to do. Please edit your question accordingly.
    – MaryBeth
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 13:42
  • 2
    removing the layer from the legend will not remove it from your map, only the legend. and since the symbology for landuse1 and landuse2 are practically the same (one extra catagory for 2) just remove landuse1 entirely, rename the header from Landuse1 to Land Use and viola done! Second method would be to export map and legend seperately, cut out the part of the legend you want and use inkscape/illustator to re-insert the legend back into the map
    – ed.hank
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 15:43

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