I'm trying to move some of my labels individually around some of these points so that they don't overlap with each other or crowd each other out. When I converted them, I chose to store the annotations in the map and used a reference scale of 1:100:000.

But for some reason I can't seem to move them after I ran the conversion. When I use the select elements tool, I can't select the labels. It just drags a box over the map like normal; I can't pick up the labels and move them. I've attached a picture to describe what I mean (I've got Gas_export selected, but Standalone ramps is the layer I converted to annotation).

I've got the data frame activated (there's only one), I'm not editing, and I checked to make sure I'm still using the same reference scale. I'm sure it's something totally obvious that I've missed, but I'm really stuck.

enter image description here

  • 1
    What sort of annotation are they? In the map, in the database? If they are in the map you need to activate the data frame by double clicking on it (the border changes to a hash line when active) so that ArcMap knows you want to move stuff 'in the map' and not the map itself, if it's in a database you need to start editing. Note that while the data frame is active you can't move north arrows, legends, scale bars etc.. because they belong 'to the page' and not the map. Mar 16, 2015 at 0:46

3 Answers 3


From your screenshot, it looks like you're trying to move labels while in Layout View. Try switching to data view and try again.

enter image description here


If they are in the map, try using the select elements tool and triple-clicking a label.

  • 1
    The double click activates the map and the 3rd selects the element. After the map is active you can then select each by a single click or marquee select (click & drag). Mar 16, 2015 at 0:50
  • That was the issue! I was only double-clicking, not triple-clicking. Thank you!
    – ale19
    Mar 19, 2015 at 22:04

I had the same problem. I was able to fix the problem by beginning an editing session and using the regular select arrow (not the editing arrow). I assume that once you convert labels to annotation you need to start an editing session to move them.

  • 1
    This is the correct answer for annotations stored in the database. For annotations stored in the map document it is simply a matter of being in data view, not layout view. For annotations in the database, you have to: 1. be in data view, not layout view; 2. be in an edit session; and 3. click on the regular arrow cursor tool, as starting the edit session will default to using the edit arrow tool (which moves the entire annotation, including the other end of the leader line, which is not usually desired). Jul 19, 2019 at 5:35

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