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I am using ArcMap 10.2.

Is there a way to factor data frames and the legend when having placing labels using the Maplex Label Engine?

I am talking specifically about the labels for roads and contours. I really don't want to have to convert the labels to annotation and manually move them, and these are the labels that always seem to find a way to hide partially under an inset map, even when there is no apparent need to have the label in that one exact spot.

My current way around this is to create a polygon with no fill or border that fits under the inset and legend and give the polygon a suitable weighting. This works, and sometimes is quite handy at making the map look decent to show what is underneath the legend/inset map, but it seems like the placement of the labels should already factor in the map elements, and the process is becoming tedious enough to ask the question here.

Am I missing something in the labeling toolbar that allows this?

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As others have commented your only current option will be to use a workaround. I would approach that by using the position of your overlapping data frame or legend elements to create rectangular polygons that can be used to make/erase holes in copies of your data that are used just for labelling. The workaround is non-trivial but achievable and although I have not done it end to end I see no reason why it cannot be fully automated using arcpy.mapping.

There was an ArcGIS Idea for an enhancement request to ArcMap entitled Allow Maplex to "see" other dataframes:

I would like the Maplex engine to view any other dataframe as a conflict and not place labels such that they are infringed upon by another dataframe.

However, as commented by @snow-raven, that has now morphed into the same ArcGIS Idea for ArcGIS Pro at Allow Maplex to "see" other dataframes

I think this covers the inset part of your question but you may want to consider submitting an ArcGIS Idea to request that there be conflict detection implemented for layouts that makes the Maplex labelling engine aware of any overlapping layout elements.

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