I would like to have a single point feature class containing traffic signs but the challenge is a cartographic one; displaying these signs correctly at varying scales.

If I create several signs in their actual geographic location, say around a road intersection, they will only show correctly at that scale. As soon as I zoom out, the points bunch-up and show as a cluster on top of that intersection. My current workaround is to place the signs well away of from the road but in the general location so that as i zoom in and out the sighs are shown more less in the approximate location. I also limit the visibility to a small range of scales. Not ideal.

I would like to be able to zoom out and have the points be "pushed out" to a scale-depended but conceptually correct location. The complexity of this is compounded by the fact that the signs need to be pushed out into certain directions based on which side of the road they are on, while ensuring they are not moved across an intersecting nearby road, etc.

Can this be done without having to create a separate layer for each scale?

The target audience for this product are internal web GIS users. The matter is further complicated by the fact that I want the users to be able to edit, create and delete these signs so this limits the use of custom programming and tools; the data and its symbology needs to be dynamic and be able to be exported as a feature service for use on web GIS.

The actual geographic GPS location of the sign is not important, as long as it is conceptually correct at varying scales.

I am open to ideas even if it means a completely different strategy (within the parameter specified below)

ArcGIS Standard, Spatial Analyst

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  • The only method I can think of offhand is if you use labels rather than symbolizing the features directly. I don't know of any method by which you can do what you are suggesting.
    – nboyko
    Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 20:39

1 Answer 1


MODS: If this is not good enough, feel free to delete.

The only method I can think of offhand is if you use labels rather than symbolizing the features directly. I don't know of any method by which you can do what you are suggesting.

To do this, you could use a label with a tail, much like what is used with schools in this example: Zoomed in example Thus, when you zoom out, the tails will follow the original points, but will move to not overlap:

Zoomed in picture with symbols overlapping

You could have this label based on type, eg. STOP, YIELD, SPEED, etc.

There are also a multitude of shield-type labels that you could use, and it is possible to integrate more symbols from ESRI as well through the ESRI symbol library, and the add button in the Label menu.

EDIT: You can also create styles yourself, so you could feasibly draw or acquire a set of traffic signs: http://desktop.arcgis.com/en/arcmap/10.3/map/styles-and-symbols/creating-new-styles.htm Shields

By changing placement properties, you should be able to have the labels deflect appropriately.

As well, you will want to turn up the feature weight on road layers to ensure that labels stay on either side of the road.

  • Thanks. I think you're onto something here. I will set it up and see how it behaves, Shields are no prob. I have my own set. I will probably force the user to create the signs at a specific scale but for viewing them i could just use labels. Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 14:47

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