I'm working with a polygon layer in ArcMap (version 10.3) that's currently symbolized as graduated symbols (in this case, teal dots on the map). I'd like to set this layer as slightly transparent to see underlying layers, but when I set a transparent percentage under the Display tab in the layer properties, nothing happens. Anyone know if it's possible to set a transparency for this kind of symbology?

It seems that the graduated symbols symbology has other head-scratching properties, like the fact that it always draws as the top layer, even if it's buried in the TOC. See screenshot below of the layer in the TOC that shows transparency buy the actual layer in the map window is definitely not transparent.

enter image description here

  • Can you show a screeshot or two of what you are talking about, that is a little strange. Also what version of ArcMap are you running?
    – ed.hank
    Dec 12, 2016 at 20:10
  • Sorry about that, see above screenshot.
    – Will
    Dec 12, 2016 at 20:14
  • Hmm that is strange indeed, I just tested and it shows transparent for me. Did you turn of all the other layers and its still fully opaque? Also like Dan said, did you try to drag the graduated symbol layer to the top and see what happens?
    – ed.hank
    Dec 12, 2016 at 20:22
  • Yeah, I turned off all layers except the graduated symbols layer and it's still opaque. And I did drag that layer to the top, but nothing changes. It's still not showing transparent teal circles as I'd like.
    – Will
    Dec 12, 2016 at 20:28
  • 1
    You can also try copying and pasting it into an empty ArcGIS project and see if the transparency renders correctly.
    – Dan C
    Dec 12, 2016 at 20:29

2 Answers 2


I was able to recreate your issue, but only with polygons. I recommend converting your polygons to centroids and using the points for your mapping since the transparency will work with points.

Here's my test with points:

enter image description here

As you can see, the transparency is mapping properly with graduated symbols.


As in ArcMap: Graduated or Proportional Symbols do not currently support transparency. Instructions provided convert symbols to features allowing for adjustment of the feature layer's transparency.

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