How can I word-wrap a text element on an ArcMap layout, when it contains a lot of text?

  • go into Layout mode
  • choose > Insert > Text
  • paste in a long text block eg lorem ipsum

The text block now stretches across the screen, and there's no apparent way to change the width of the text block. Is there a way to set the text block to the desired width, and have ArcMap automatically enter line breaks?

(The way that, um, every other piece of software which handles text does...)

The workaround is to enter line breaks manually, which is great until you decide to change the width, font size, etc.

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3 Answers 3


Yes - I use the Rectangle Text tool from the Draw toolbar instead.

It is not well known (see the number of times it is requested on ArcGIS Ideas) but is documented as Adding text that flows within a graphic:

You can add text that flows within a graphic to your map annotation or graphic text by using the Polygon Text, Rectangle Text, and Circle Text tools on the Draw toolbar.

There is an ArcGIS Idea entitled Insert | Text and/or Text Element Properties to support text wrapping that you may want to add your vote to.


The best answer has already been given by @PolyGeo, but thought I'd mention another alternative, albeit an inferior one - You can use "SHIFT + ENTER" in a Text field ArcGIS Table to achieve a line return, similar to how you would enter a return in a cell in MS Excel. http://desktop.arcgis.com/en/arcmap/10.3/map/page-layouts/working-with-dynamic-text.htm


Export your table to excel, format it how you want it to look then save as a .jpg. You can then import it as a picture into your layout.

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