I am trying to insert a scale bar that when printed, will equal to an exact amount in inches when a ruler is brought onto the paper. I have set my projected scale to 1:12,650 so 1 inch will equal 0.2 miles. Seems like this should be a very simple thing to do, especially when working with maps but ArcMap makes it seem like it's not possible. I understand I can bring to the ruler part at the top of my layout and measure from there, but that won't give me an exact like I am looking for.

Any ideas on how or if this is even possible?

  • What have you tried so far? This can be done in Arcmap from the Insert menu, click Scale Bar.
    – Dan C
    Apr 25, 2017 at 19:38
  • What is projection of your data frame?
    – FelixIP
    Apr 25, 2017 at 19:45
  • I have inserted the scale bar and set the width (4 in) and height (1 in). Problem is that this sets the overall box to those dimensions, not the actual scale bar. Using this also changes the width and height automatically after applied, for whatever reason. I want the actual alternating scale bar to be 4" x 1" (not including the "miles" at the end).
    – Alex C.
    Apr 25, 2017 at 19:46

2 Answers 2


You need to work within the Scale Bar Properties (see pic below), and set the "Division Value:" to the map distance you want represented by the scale value. So for example in your case you want to select a "1 inch = XXX ft." scale bar type, then open the properties and set Division Value to 0.2 miles. You will also need to set the "Division Units" dropdown to miles (in your case).

If you will be resizing, you may have to play around with the Adjust Width, Adjust Division Value, or others, but if you know your reference scale in advance it should not be an issue.

enter image description here


There's a few ways to do this, most simplistically would be to set up a relative scale eg. (1 inch = 1 km). In ArcMap you can find this under "Insert" > "Scale Text" If a scale bar is what you're after there are a few settings you may to alter before printing. How To: Printing an ArcMap layout to an exact scale. Such as making sure the 'Scale Map Elements proportionally to changes in Page Size' is not checked. Additionally, the help section on scale bars goes into detail about changing the properties of the scalebar (# of divisions, units, width, label position, etc).

My advice would be to make sure you're in layout view and add the scale bar at the very end of map creation. You can use the guides and rulers in layout view to alter your scale bar according to your specifications.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.