I have point shapefile with 15 points whose attribute for symbol ranges from 2000 to over a million. There are 3 points with over 1mil while the other 12 points are all in thousands. I want the size of circles to represent the values of this attribute. But when I use proportional symbols, the 3 points with the values greater than 1 million dominate and other 12 points are just tiny points.

So I am thinking I would set an upper limit that would still show these 3 points as big circles but I would still be able to see proportional sizes for other 12 points. How do I go about doing this? And is this the best way to represent these points proportionally?

2 Answers 2


If you use graduated symbols instead of proportional symbols, you can set the classification method, or set manual breaks in the classification if you like. You can also change individual symbol sizes. This would allow you to set a 'greater than 1 million' class and then have the rest sized appropriately.

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6 Options, I would go with 6

You state you want "proportional sizes" so I will stick to these in the earlier examples although other non-proportional options exist.

(1) Add a second attribute to the table with the same name (add _1) and the same type (say integer) as the original. Copy all the values up to the thousands into the new attribute. Now let's say your high value is 5,000. For the three outliers in the millions change the value of these to 5001. Now you can merely state in the legend something similar to below.

0 - 2500

2500 - 5000


You should note somewhere that you have done this (methods or a text at the bottom of the map).

You can even add a halo or similar to these three on the final map to denote them.

(2) Make two feature classes, one of just the good stuff and one of the outliers.

The good stuff can be done as you state in your question. The three in the millions can be donated with a symbol that is larger than the other max symbol but matches in any other manner but use a different outline. Now the three with the different outline fit in the map and the legend but you get to explain that these are much larger.

(3) Just use graduated symbol as you do but change the three "millions" symbols manually to the biggest size not to block the others.

(4) Make a huge map.

(5) Change the symbol size in proportional symbols to something much smaller.

(6) Proportional symbols are a bad option when three 1/5 of your data are massively outside the range of the rest of the data. Use something else.

Tell the reader what you did if you do 1-3.

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