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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  • 1
    Apparenty it's possible with tables when you check the "Word Wrap" option of the text field in 10.1. See resources.arcgis.com/en/help/main/10.1/index.html#//… . For a text field i once implemented my own word wrap logic (in arcpy). – til_b Jul 29 '14 at 7:03
  • 3
    You use the Rectangle Text tool from the Drawing toolbar - why that is not the default one, I have never understood. – PolyGeo Jul 29 '14 at 7:09
  • ArcGIS Desktop help also states you can put a "return" in a text field by using "SHIFT+ENTER", similar to how you would enter a return in an Excel cell. With that being said, the Rectangle tool is far more practical. – RyNo's Aug 23 '16 at 12:57
  • @til_b : the word wrap option at 10.1 looks great - unfortunately, it is absent in ArcMap 10.2. – Hélène Jan 17 '17 at 11:20

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.

  • 1
    Warning: The Rectangle Text tool works great in ArcMap, but may produce overlapped text if the ayout is used with a geoprocessing print service. Long text is overlapping itself, and is impossible to read. – Hélène Jan 17 '17 at 11:22

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

  • 1
    Cool, thanks for the tip. The limitation with this is that you need to manually re-position the line breaks if you change anything else on the layout. – Stephen Lead Aug 24 '16 at 1:44

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