I am using ArcGIS Desktop 10 and trying to label line features. It labels 75% of the features normally, while others do not display any label.

There is no obvious geographic or label correlation between the malfunctioning features and they are all part of the same shapefile. If I alter the label slightly (for example: changing 12" to 12'') I can often get the label to display, but this isn't a practical solution.

  • When I paste the layer into another MXD the labels all seem to display fine...I can work around the problem by pasting the entire data frame into a new MXD, but I would still like to find out what the problem is. – Jared Oct 12 '11 at 19:48
  • Are you using Maplex? – Jakub Sisak GeoGraphics Oct 12 '11 at 23:49
  • convert labels to annotation - there is an option to display unplaced labels - Maplex Extension does have more control with labels and would improve labels visually placed but still not 100%. – Mapperz Oct 13 '11 at 13:45

Depending on the scale of your map, other layers present, etc, etc .... there's a possibility that your labels may be conflicting with each other, or with labels from other features. In the print screen below, you can see that I'm under the "labels" tab. On the bottom left, go to placement properties and set the placements & conflict definition settings (highlighted on the right in the print screen). If you're not familiar, do a read-up in the help menus, or a Google search. You might have to give more weight to the labels for this shapefile (and/or buffer around them - this option also under the highlighted "conflict definition" tab).

OR ..... you could convert your labels to annotation, then place them where you want manually. This would be my first choice. I hope this helps.

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Go to the "Labels" tab in Layer Properties and click on the "Placement Properties" button. Then, select "Place one label per feature". I've just found this reveals labels for all my line features, where previously I had the same problem as Jared.


This issue can also arise with lines and polygons that may have been created with other programs (non ArcMap) and contain invalid geometries.

If you are trying to display a polygon check the Shape_Area field for any negative values. If there are negative values in this field this indicates bad geometries. This will impact label placement.

To fix this issue: Run the Repair Geometry Geoprocessing tool: ArcToolbox > Data Management Tools > Features > Repair Geometry.

I recently encountered this with a shapefile I received and was at pains to determine the labeling issue. Running this geoprocessing tool corrected the geometries and the labeling was then working as hoped!

  • Welcome to GIS.SE. Please refrain from asking new/consecutive questions in an answer. Especially with old questions nobody will see your follow-up and thus answer it. Rather post a new question and refer to possible solutions, explaining why those didn't work out for you. Thank you. – Erik Feb 5 at 9:50
  • this was not a question but an alternative answer. – obrietap Apr 1 at 3:45

In 9.x I've often been able to solve not-appearing label issues by converting the labels to annotation. I've not yet had label issues in v10, but my work of late hasn't used them.


I had this problem in ArcGIS 10.3. I tried many things but what worked for me was to export my shapefile to a file geodatabase. Then the labels displayed no problem.


I had a similar issue. My expression required a value be populated in my attribute table. If I didn't populate it then my label didn't display at all. Simply putting a space " " in the field or adjusting my expression solves the problem.


I also had a similar issue. The problem was that, I drew a line (using the draw toolbar) closer to the polygons . So all the labels closer to that line didn't show but those far from it showed. The labels that were not showing showed when I deleted the line.

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