Somehow I can’t open the legend properties after converting it to graphic in layout view – from what I’ve read in the ArcGIS guide and online, I should be able to edit everything on the legend through ‘legend properties’. However, if I double-click or right-click on the legend, I only get the properties in the screenshot below. Does anyone know how I can access the properties or if I’m doing something wrong?

enter image description here

3 Answers 3


I don't know what you've read, but if you convert your legend to a graphic you can only edit graphic properties. It's no longer a legend object. ESRI help on converting map elements to graphics (bottom of page).

Edit: First, you have to do this in a new legend. You can't edit a graphic in the way you're thinking.

Anyway, there are two methods. One, in the symbology tab, double click the value in the label column you want to change (see image). You can then type in whatever you'd like, and that will show in the legend. Two, you can double click the label in the TOC for that item and change it there. That will change in the legend as well.

enter image description here

  • I've been told and read that if I convert the legend to a graphic then I can edit any element of the legend (field names, delete items, etc.) via the legend properties menu. However, the only properties I have access to via double-clicking my converted legend is what is in my screenshot. I can't edit these aspects of the legend prior to conversion, either, as they are linked to the layers in ArcMap. Oct 10, 2014 at 12:43
  • 2
    You've been told wrong. As for what you've read, it would be interesting to see that. Could you post a link? Unless I'm greatly misunderstanding you, you can certainly edit the properties you mention prior to conversion. Some things, like layer names in the legend, are edited in the TOC or the Symbology tab of the layer properties, not the legend properties. But again, no, once it's a graphic it's no longer a legend object, even though it serves as a legend for cartographic purposes. What exactly do you want to change?
    – recurvata
    Oct 10, 2014 at 12:58
  • I want to change the field title (e.g. 'c' to 'convictions') and remove the image of the graph with '400' next to it. Should I be editing this in symbology then? Oct 10, 2014 at 13:11
  • I'll answer this in answers so I can upload a screen shot.
    – recurvata
    Oct 10, 2014 at 13:19
  • Hi, this didn't work for me as it is the appearance of the value field that I want to change in the legend. I also want to display all value fields in a bar chart on my map. Oct 10, 2014 at 17:48

I generally agree with both of the other answers but just wanted to add this answer to discuss what things you can edit with the legend as a graphic. First off to edit individual items like change one of the field titles or delete an element right click the legend you converted to graphic and select "Ungroup": enter image description here

You can ungroup elements further by selecting them and following the above instructions: enter image description here

To delete simply select the element right click and select "delete". To resize simply drag the corners of the element. To edit text simply double click the text and edit as you would a text box: enter image description here

Once you have finished you can regroup all the elements by holding the shift key and clicking all the elements, then right click and select "Group":

enter image description here


Best practice is to get your legend as close to what you want as possible before converting.

Start off by giving the layers more readable names -- for example, change the layer name from "InterwarProstitues$Events" to "Prostitutes". Set the symbology how you want it. (This should definitely be done in the layers rather than in the legend, to ensure your map symbols and legend symbols match.)

In the Legend Wizard or the Legend Properties dialog, you have a great deal of control over what is/isn't in the legend, font sizes, styles, shape of polygon, and more. This won't change the symbology (in other words, if your map shows blue and yellow polygons, you can't change them to green and red from the legend properties), but it does change how they look in the legend.

After converting to a graphic, changes to layers won't affect the legend and you can't access the legend properties (since it's no longer considered a "legend" object). You can modify graphic properties (size, shape, deleting things, etc.) -- and per the Esri help page recurvata linked to, "You can further ungroup the legend graphics so the individual elements (the patches, text, and so on) that compose the legend can be edited individually." If you need to change one portion of your legend-graphic, you need to ungroup it.

  • Thanks Erica. Very helpful. How do I go about changing the field labels in symbology in the charts section? There doesn't seem to be a way to do this in this section, and I need to show the full titles ('convictions', etc.), which I had to shorten in order to convert the table to a shapefile. Oct 10, 2014 at 17:55
  • Easiest way is to change it in the Symbology tab of the Layer Properties box. Assuming you have it categorized by Unique Values already -- in the Label column, you can click (or maybe double-click, I forget) on the current label text and change it from, e.g., "C" to "Convictions". (Screenshot for reference in Esri help here.)
    – Erica
    Oct 10, 2014 at 18:09

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