I've been given a dataset that has two different annotations set for a single feature which I can flip between. See below screenshot which allows me to set either a blue or red leader line for the same annotation.

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I need to create my own data set from scratch that allows me to do this. I only seem to have the default annotation. How do I create an annotation other than the default.

2 Answers 2


The term you are looking for is Annotation Classes. These define different styles of annotation, and may use different attributes, but may be linked to the same feature.

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This image shows a highlighted featureclass that represents sewer lines. They have 2 labels, on top is the length, on the bottom is the diameter and material. In the table of contents, you can see the Annotation Featureclass that was created, showing three "Annotation classes". These are similar to subtypes for a featureclass.

The easiest way to create different annotation classes is to create different label classes for a particular feature class.

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Once you change the Label Method to "Define classes of features and label each class differently", you will have options to Add, Delete, etc. classes of labels. You can define each of these classes with either an attribute field, or a VBScript string of text and attributes mixed.

Once you have your Label Classes defined, you can Convert Labels to Annotation.

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This dialog shows the conversion options. You can specify the name, the extent of labels to be converted, and options for linking the annotation directly to a feature. This will create a relationship whereby adding, modifying or deleting a feature will create, adjust or delete the corresponding annotation.

The description above is just a brief overview of the options related to creating annotation and annotation classes in ArcGIS. I encourage you to read the help files that I have linked to and the related sections, as they contain much more detailed options and configuration settings.

  • Thank you for the explanation. I've +1'ed this, but accepted my answer below as it was how the data got created. I also saw that annotation classes show up as checkboxes in the TOC; but using symbol collection helps to assign (flip between) the required symbol only during an edit session.
    – Thomas
    May 28, 2012 at 4:58

The option to select a symbol for an annotation feature was done using symbol collection. The symbol collection lists the predefined text symbols you can assign to annotation features when creating or editing them in ArcMap. The option to work with symbol collection can be got from the annotation tab found in the properties of an annotation feature class.

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