I am working somewhere where they insist on using one mxd per region, in this mxd there is every layer required to make maps (about 10 per region). I find it tedious because you have to turn layers on and off and recreate the legend, and I find that since each region has the same layers if someone has another mxd open I can't edit layers.

What is the best practice? the idea was that there were too many mxd's being created, but I always thought it was better to have one mxd per map.

we can't do data driven pages because each map has about 3 layouts and requires some fiddling that can't be automated.

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    Another problem is that if a change is made to one layer (eg the symbology, the label font, etc) then you'll need to make that change in every MXD which uses that layer. Data-driven pages definitely sounds like the way to go Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 22:42
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    Can you clarify what you mean when you say "each map has about 3 layouts" because in ArcMap there is only one layout per map. I suspect your question would benefit from some pictures that illustrate what you are trying to describe in words. I also suspect you may be using "map" to refer to map series.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 22:52
  • I mean, each map has 3 bookmarked layouts that you use depending on what map you are creating. They are just different scales.
    – user44
    Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 23:45
  • I think data driven pages would only work when labels were consistent over all regions
    – user44
    Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 23:46

1 Answer 1


What you describe sounds to me like a use case for Data Driven Pages.

If they do not meet 100% of your requirements then they are well integrated with ArcPy to complete the necessary map automation.

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