I have an emf that I would like to make into a North Arrow. How do I get the emf to be a Character Marker Symbol in ArcGIS 10?

1 Answer 1


For starters, see the following help articles:

To create a custom north arrow symbol in ArcGIS 10, follow these steps:

  1. In ArcMap, go to Customize -> Style Manager
  2. Select your default profile's style or create a new one
  3. Right click North Arrows in the list of categories on the right and click New->North Arrow...
  4. Click Symbol
  5. Click Edit Symbol
  6. From the Type dropdown select Picture Marker Symbol
  7. Browse to and select your desired image (must be in BMP or EMF format) and click Open
  8. Adjust the size, and X and Y offset properties as needed. For the north arrow to rotate correctly, carefully set the X and Y offsets so that the visual center point of the arrow is at the center of the symbol preview.
  9. Click OK / Close until you are back to ArcMap
  10. Ensure your Data Frame rotation is at 0 before continuing using either the Data Frame properties - General tab or the Data Frame Tools toolbar
  11. Go to Insert -> North Arrow
  12. Select the north arrow style you created (if it doesn't appear check that your style is selected under More Styles)
  13. Right-click the new north arrow and go to Properties
  14. On the Size and Position tab, set the Anchor Point to the center so that when the data frame is rotated, the symbol rotates around its center instead of a corner.
  15. Click OK
  16. If necessary, use the Rotate Data Frame tool on the Data Frame Tools toolbar to rotate the data frame to the correct angle or type it in to the box.

I was able to use MS Paint to create a 64x64 version of the GIS.SE logo as a north arrow in BMP format (I would have liked to use vector but the vector version of the logo appears to still be MIA). Here's what it looks like on a page layout with a rotated data frame:

Custom North Arrow with rotated data frame


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