I have a line feature class that I am trying to symbolize with a Marker Line Symbol type. I have my symbology set up but I am having a problem with the rotation angle.

When I enter an angle in the box and click ok, the symbol does not rotate. If I go back into the Symbol Selector dialog box, the angle is still shown as 0. In this example, I am trying to enter 180 in the Angle box to make the arrow turn 180 degrees. Is this a bug, or is there a workaround?

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  • 1
    Use an Angle Field Layer Properties dialog box > Symbology tab > Advanced > Rotation. On the Rotate dialog box, the Rotate Points by Angle in this field specifies the field that holds angular values and the Rotation Style controls the origin and direction of rotation resources.arcgis.com/en/help/main/10.2/index.html#//…
    – Mapperz
    Oct 20, 2014 at 15:02
  • I looked for this option and it doesn't appear for me. Under the Advanced drop down box, the only option I have is "Symbol Levels." Is this related to license level? I'm using a Basic license. Oct 20, 2014 at 15:16

1 Answer 1


I think it's a bug, or more perhaps more worded more precisely: it's a result of inadequate user interface portrayal of the symbol properties and their effects. My deduction is that the same dialog box for point symbol properties is re-used, but not all the controls there are applicable for Simple Line Symbols.

It would help to also add an additional graphic showing what the desired final complete line will look like, even a pencil sketch. For example, are you really after a marker line, where every x distance has a symbol, or is it just arrows at the middle and/or ends?

For a true symbol marker line, you need to use Cartographic Representation, which requires Desktop Advanced license. If you're fortunate enough to have that, see how to get started with fix symbol rotation to page.

Rich man's (CartoRep) example: equally spaced fixed rotation marker symbol.

[example: fixed marker along outline

Poor man's repeated marker line symbol: it works, angle is fixed at 45deg to page according to symbol properties, but the distance between each point varies.

example: simple repeated marker with rotation

click path for simple repeated marker with rotation

To round out the examples, for arrows at ends like you'd use to depict stream flow, see Line Properties >> Line Decorations and rotate to follow line. Here we've created a complex symbol, two arrow types on one line, by stacking lines (see "Layers" panel).

Stream flow with different arrows at beginning and end

  • Thanks for the answer. I appreciate the time you put into it. The last example is most similar to what I am trying to accomplish - I am drawing a drainage swale and need to show arrows at intervals along the line to indicate the direction of flow. The arrows were following the direction the line was drawn, so my workaround was redrawing the geometry so the arrows followed in the proper direction. Apr 23, 2015 at 12:08
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    In that case you might be able to use the "flip all" check box to reverse flow direction depiction. For ArcInfo we had a "stream flipper" AML which would use a DEM to put the coordinate pairs in each line in the order of stream flow (uplsope to downslope). There's probably something similar for arcpy. Apr 24, 2015 at 17:24

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