I am pretty new to GIS, and I am trying to figure out how to adjust the transparency of my labels.

I know you have to convert the labels to annotations, but I can't seem to do that.

I right click on the layer and go to "Convert Labels to Annotations". According to my many Google searches, I am supposed save the annotations in a database, not in the map. (I tried in the map and it wouldn't let me adjust transparency anyways.)

My biggest problem is that "Destination" is set to "Unknown", and I don't know how to change this or where my Destination should even be. I attached a screenshot so you can visualize what I am saying.

enter image description here

  • 1
    I don't think you can make labels transparent. Annotation must be stored in a geodatabase, either file or personal, as shapefiles don't support annotation. Select an existing geodatabase to store your annotation in by clicking on the folder looking icon, export and it will appear as a layer; they may be transparency in the layers' properties but I don't remember seeing the option. Oct 5, 2018 at 4:43
  • @MichaelStimson has laid out the groundwork. If you don't have an existing .gdb, you can easily create one by opening ArcCatalog, right clicking on the destination folder where you wish to create one, and selecting New > Geodatabase. Transparency of the annotation layer can be edited in the 'Display' tab of the layer properties just like any other layer. Make sure you have fonts/placement etc. as you like before converting, otherwise you will have to manually edit your annotations individually. Good luck! Oct 5, 2018 at 4:49
  • Welcome to GIS SE! As a new user be sure to take the Tour to learn about our focussed Q&A format. I've removed your statement of urgency as per gis.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3672.
    – PolyGeo
    Oct 5, 2018 at 4:53
  • If you do not have to use ArcMap, label transparency is supported in ArcGIS Pro: pro.arcgis.com/en/pro-app/help/mapping/layer-properties/…
    – PolyGeo
    Oct 5, 2018 at 4:56

3 Answers 3


As @MichaelStimson and @RobinHorner noted, you must first convert your labels to annotation.

Once you have an annotation feature class created and added to the map as a layer, you can adjust transparency in the layer's properties. (As of 10.4.1, at least.)

enter image description here


To set the destination you just have to click on the little folder icon next to the "VermontAnno" text in the "Annotation feature class" column. The table icon next to the folder icon let you set some option


You should create a new geodatabase first. For example "File Geodatabase" in catalog of Arcmap. Then using this directory for saving the new layer.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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