I am using ArcMap 10.1 and am trying to create a legend that will display a polygon layer as a single line.


2 Answers 2


Decrease the height of the the legend box to zero: In the example below you can see that I got a line legend even if my data is polygon. Right-click on your legend, click on properties Go to the Legend tab and change the height into either 1 or 0.

enter image description here

That will reduce all polygon layer patches in the legend to lines. You can also set this property per-layer, by bringing up the Legend Item Properties for the layer (double-click the layer under the Items tab). Then check "Override default patch size" and make the same change:

enter image description here

  • 1
    thanks, necessity is the mother of invention :), I once was in a hurry to send my presentation, when I noticed my legend needed to change to lines. ... under pressure of a deadline, the simplest solution occurred to me.
    – yanes
    Dec 10, 2015 at 17:16
  • 1
    As written, this solution would affect all polygon layers in a legend, I edited it to add a per-layer solution using the same method (changing patch size). Feel free to roll it back if you like.
    – Dan C
    Dec 10, 2015 at 18:32
  • @DanC why thank you, it's an even better shortcut now.
    – yanes
    Dec 11, 2015 at 20:27

The workaround I usually use for any situation in which I want to customize the legend entry for a layer is to create a dummy layer which is only used in the legend, and not displayed on the map. So in your case, create a new line layer using a line shapefile with no features in it, symbolize it however you want, and add that to your legend. The new layer should be turned off in the map. You will need to uncheck the box "Only display layers that are checked on in the Table of Contents" under the legend properties.

  • 2
    @yanes has the "better" answer in that it directly answers the question posed but yours is more useful overall for those who aren't finalizing their maps via another software package. -- You might look into adding more content to yours. -- One last trick is to put the bogus layers in another Dataframe and move that Dataframe off the map but leave the Legend for it on your map. -- That way your primary Table of Contents contains no layers that aren't relevant to your work and you can bypass "layers turned on" vs "layers checked" issue should you need to make further changes.
    – user23715
    Dec 10, 2015 at 18:14
  • I generally do this as well for all my maps - have a separate group called "Legend" and customise the symbology etc on those copies of the layers specifically for the legend display only. Dec 11, 2015 at 9:27

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