I'm using ArcGIS 10.0 - ArcInfo license. I'm a fairly new user.

I'd like to align rectangular symbols perpendicular to to the lines that reside nearby.

I have two layers. A layer containing lines and a layer containing points. Both are shapefiles.

In this case I'm using NHDFlowlines (streams and rivers) and the rectangular symbols will represent dams.

I'm attempting to use the 'Align Marker to Stroke or Fill' tool.

I've taken each shapefile and exported them out to Personal Geodatabases. I've applied which symbols I want to use for the layers. I then use "Convert Symbology to Representations".

Here's where I think I have my first problem: When the new representation layer gets added, the check box is grayed out and there is a little red exclamation point next to it.

My next step was to use "Repair Data Source" where I point to the file within the geodatabase.
I then save my two Representation layers as .lyr files.
After that, I try to run the 'Align...' tool.

It processes successfully, but nothing actually aligns...

I've gotten to this point through trial and error, but I'm not sure what doing...

  • Would you be able to post a few screenshots as examples of what you're wanting as the end result?
    – Nomkins
    Feb 11, 2015 at 19:54
  • Something that looks more like this: i.imgur.com/oikKiMB.png instead of this: i.imgur.com/O7Q6QvO.png Even if I can get the tool to run successfully I don't really know if my results will be acceptable given the location accuracy of my dams and accuracy of the NHD flowlines.
    – hydro
    Feb 11, 2015 at 20:11
  • My two examples are zoomed in quite a bit. My plotted map will have a scale of 1" = 1mi.
    – hydro
    Feb 11, 2015 at 20:18
  • Oh! Okay, I see what you mean now, thank you! I've had this issue before with Labels, but not with the actual symbols. I'll keep thinking, surely there's a solution for your problem somewhere.
    – Nomkins
    Feb 11, 2015 at 20:43
  • I'm not sure how I would get that to work. I suppose I could replace my symbols with a 'label' (that looks like my symbol), but my dams don't have an attribute that I could reference to define the rotation angle of each individual label.
    – hydro
    Feb 11, 2015 at 20:53

1 Answer 1


If you want it done right, do it yourself.
This is the unfortunate reality for some projects.
One way to get the desired result of having your Dam features perpendicular with the water features is to manually adjust them all.
You can do this by Converting features into graphics.

This will allow you to rotate those how you would prefer.
From there, you can likely reverse the process and keep the custom rotation.

  • It's definitely an option. I was just looking to get around doing something like that since I have ~1500 dams. My supervisor didn't like the symbol I created in inkscape imgur.com/52gDIBX and specifically requested the 'aligned bars".
    – hydro
    Feb 11, 2015 at 21:08

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