I have an .mxd where the labels for most features are fully editable and movable. However, they have NOT been converted to notation. They are stored in shapefiles that have no symbology but also have "Label Features" checked off. When a shapefile is checked off, the labels turn off as well. We can't figure out how this is possible but we'd like to be able to recreate this label style since it works really well.

How can I recreate this?

I am not new to GIS, please trust that I understand what a shapefile is.

I am using ArcMap 10.5.1.

  • How does the attribute table look like, could you post an extract ?
    – J.R
    Nov 30, 2018 at 17:09
  • Also are you really using a shapefile ? (a file with an .shp extension an the accompanying .dbf .shx and .prj)
    – J.R
    Nov 30, 2018 at 17:11
  • It is a shapefile. If I export the shapefile to a copy and add it to the map, it shows up with the regular symbology. The attribute table is also typical of a shapefile: FID, Shape, etc
    – Shelby G.
    Nov 30, 2018 at 17:18
  • 2
    Is it possible that it is actually annotation stored in the .mxd, rather than a .gdb?
    – cl3
    Nov 30, 2018 at 17:53
  • 1
    Are you sure? You can convert more labels to anno with annotation stored in the .mxd. No annotation groups in the data frame properties?
    – cl3
    Nov 30, 2018 at 17:58

1 Answer 1


Your labels are not actually labels, they are annotation. You are dealing with annotation created in the map document, rather than in a geodatabase. Open the data frame properties to view all of the .mxd's annotation groups.

  • 1
    I had no idea you could view all the annotation groups that way, thank you!
    – Shelby G.
    Nov 30, 2018 at 18:15

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