I am having trouble executing a very basic command which is to copy and paste an annotation within the same layer in ArcGIS 10.1.

First, I created an annotation class, then created one label (a balloon call-out with a number) whose attributes I want to copy for all of my locations.

When I went to Editor > Edit Annotation Tool > selected my annotation label > then under Attributes (in my Editor toolbar) > right-click my label > Copy Attributes > then right-click on my Layer > Paste Attributes, nothing happens.

Can someone explain why I cannot paste attributes in this way?

  • Following the first answer, it worked for me in Data View (copy not greyed out on standard toolbar) but not Layout View (copy greyed out).
    – user68870
    Mar 8, 2016 at 22:42
  • Getting access to annotation that's part of the data frame is tricky in Layout View - you have to double-click on the data frame until its border has a bunch of short diagonal lines around it. This is "focusing" the data frame. You have to follow these same steps to edit a non-annotation feature from Layout View. Mar 8, 2016 at 22:49
  • @AndyBradford I've not tested but can't you just right-click on the data frame in the Table of Contents to open its Properties and get at this?
    – PolyGeo
    Mar 8, 2016 at 22:54
  • Welcome to GIS SE! As a new user be sure to take the Tour to learn about our focussed Q&A format. Here you appear to be trying to make a comment in the area reserved for direct answers to the question. Such posts would normally be simply deleted but in this case I will convert it to a comment. Please note that the "first answer" can change in order so if you want to refer to one it is best to use the share button beneath it to copy a link.
    – PolyGeo
    Mar 8, 2016 at 22:59

2 Answers 2


The above answer is missing a few crucial details that might frustrate people, as Dre pointed out. I've tried to work out why copy gets greyed out - I read it had something to do with some aspect of the feature class not agreeing with the data frame, but I couldn't resolve it.

To duplicate annotation in an annotation feature class when "Copy" is greyed out:

  1. Open an empty ArcMap.
  2. Pull nothing but your annotation into the empty ArcMap.

-- NOW "Copy" shouldn't be greyed out when you select a feature --

  1. Start an edit session on your annotation feature.
  2. Click the Edit Tool on the editor toolbar.
  3. Select and right-click whatever you want to copy in your annotation feature class.
  4. Click "Copy"
  5. Right click anywhere and click "Paste"
  6. A dialog should appear asking what layer you want to paste into - click okay (there's only one obviously)
  7. The new feature is pasted directly on the old one so just click it and drag it away.

Another alternative (faster if you want to do a lot of copying):

  1. Complete first three steps above.
  2. On the Draw toolbar click the Drawing drop down and set your Active Annotation Target to the feature class you are duplicating features in
  3. Use the Select Elements tool (the arrow beside the Identify tool or the arrow on the Draw toolbar)
  4. Select the annotation you want to copy, hold down Ctrl and drag - voila a copy is made!


  1. Don't use the Edit Annotation Tool to copy features as described in some tutorials - it adds no benefit and I find it's sloppy for dragging.
  2. If you have leaders on your annotation, they won't drag along with the annotation when using the Edit Annotation Tool or the Select Elements tool.
  3. If you see the scale change on your annotation it means you copied it as a text element - make sure your active annotation layer is set to the correct target (see step 2 above). You won't notice this if the scale of the map is the same as the reference scale.

Looks like you did it a little out of order and you need to use the standard toolbar to do the copy/paste. Per ArcGIS Resources here, you need to do the following:


  1. Click the Edit tool or the Edit Annotation tool on the Editor toolbar and select the annotation.
  2. Hold down the SHIFT key while clicking features to select additional features.
  3. Click the Copy button on the Standard toolbar.
  4. Click the Paste button on the Standard toolbar.
  5. Click the layer in which to store the pasted feature.When copying and pasting features, you choose the layer in which to store the new feature. This allows you to retain the attribute values from the copied feature, rather than having them be overwritten with values from a feature template.
  6. Click OK. The feature is pasted on top of the original feature.
  • I am stumped on Step 3 - it doesn't work for me because the Copy/Paste functions are inactive (grey) on the Standard toolbar. What am I doing wrong?
    – Dre
    Aug 22, 2014 at 19:45
  • @Dre Are you in an edit session for the attribution layer at the time?
    – Erica
    Aug 23, 2014 at 20:29

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