I recently started using annotation feature classes to see what capabilities they offer, so I'm a newbie to them.

Previously I would add my labels in layout view when all is good and done with a map, but when a view needs to be changed, it would mess up labeling. So that is what brought me to try the annotation feature classes.

I've created an annotation feature class with a few classes to it (ex runway, taxiway, highway, street, etc.). I set the text symbol size initially and when I find I don't like that size, I go into ArcCatalog to change the size for that specific annotation class. My thought is it would carry over to all text within that class. However, it does not do that for me. Any annotation that has been created goes under an "old" label. For example, when I switched my Street annotation from size 12 to size 8 in ArcCatalog, any current Street annotation in the map went onto another annotation class that was automatically called "Street_Old". So to change this text that I had already done, I have to highlight and change it back to the Street class to change the font size.

How do I change the font size so it changes automatically for all labels associated with that class and does not create this "_Old" class?

I am using ArcGIS Desktop 10.2.2 with a Basic License.

  • Size may be something stored in the Blob field so you would have to edit it using the annotation in the attributes window. If you can select the ones you want to edit easily by hand or query, you can click on the layer in the attributes, change the size and they should all change. But you might also look at symbol substitution in the Layer Properties-Symbolgoy tab. You can save different versions as layer files.
    – John
    Jul 6, 2017 at 20:19
  • Symbol substitution seems to be what I am looking for to get the job done. From what I gather then, whatever you put in the geodatabase for text symbols, its forever there and can't be changed?
    – vss031712
    Jul 6, 2017 at 20:39
  • You can change things but some aspects, like size, might only be changeable via the Edit annotation Attributes window. See desktop.arcgis.com/en/arcmap/10.3/manage-data/…
    – John
    Jul 7, 2017 at 13:17

2 Answers 2


Congrads for moving from labels to anno. First rule, store anno in a File GeoDataBaSE not THE mxd. It makes it easier to share and move to other projects. The MXD also opens quicker as it's not as bloated and is less likely to get corrupted.

Right click on the anno in the Table of Contents, open attribute table. You can now see FONTSIZE, FONTNAME, BOLD, ANGLE, Alignment etc..If you select or query your anno, you can field calculate the new values.

Anno in a file GeoDatabase is handled like a feature, you can edit, copy/paste, query, move, rotate, or just delete them.

  • I did store the anno in a file geodatabase and good to know files opening quicker. I guess my confusion is what is the point of setting up an annotation class with a specific text symbol? If it cannot be changed within the geodatabase itself, should it be looked at as a default value instead?
    – vss031712
    Jul 7, 2017 at 22:15

Right click on the annotations layer and click properties (from the Table of Contents). In the symbology field choose 'Substitute individual symbols in the symbol collection', choose the desired collection and click 'properties' to edit its symbology. example

Your Answer

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

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