I'm trying to add all the street, river, town (all words in fact) as a separate vector layer in QGIS.

I am looking to extract just the words from a London map as a PDF which I can then change to another font and size in Illustrator. As I have only used layers in QGIS I thought it might be a vector layer.

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    Can you elaborate on what you mean by separate vector layer ? For me text and label are not really vector nor layer. Could you tell us what you are trying to achieve ?
    – J.R
    Oct 22 '19 at 15:45
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    I am looking to extract just the words from a London map as a PDF which I can then change to another font and size in Illustrator. As I have only used layers in QGIS I thought it might be a vector layer. Thanks
    – Oli Sard
    Oct 22 '19 at 16:17

There's not really a good way of copying labels from a PDF of a map into QGIS. Here's how the process will work if you try it:

  1. Add the PDF to QGIS. Use the georeferencer tool to georeference it. Here's a tutorial.
  2. Create a new point vector layer. Add a new text field to the attribute table. Make sure the new field is long enough to hold the longest possible label.
  3. Set the symbology for this label to 'no symbol'. Turn on labeling, using the field you created in step 2.
  4. Digitize a point on top of each label on the georeferenced PDF. As you add each point, type the label text into the attribute table field.
  5. To move a label, turn the point symbology back on and use the move feature button. Or if you need tighter control over label placement, use the tools in the Labels toolbar to move the individual labels.
  6. Create a print layout with your labels in it. Make sure the map object has transparent background. Export as a PDF.
  7. Import the PDF into Illustrator, and discover that PDFs produced by QGIS do not play nicely with Adobe Illustrator. Futz around with the layer in Illustrator until you either:

    a. Figure it out and make it work, or

    b. Give up and create the labels in Illustrator, kicking yourself for not doing it this way in the first place.

I strongly recommend making a small test layer with a few dummy labels, and skip straight to step 6-7 (trying to make it work in Illustrator). If you can't make it work in Illustrator, don't waste your time on steps 1-5.

If you do figure out how to make a PDF from QGIS work in Illustrator, please post an answer with detailed instructions (so I can tell my boss how to do it and she can stop yelling at me about why my maps don't work when she tries to "fix" them).

  • Thank you CSK. Is there a way to just create a layer in the layers window of just the words? I'm looking for a ESRI or ZIP file which I can overlay on top of the OpenStreetMap layer however I havent found a website that offers just street, road, river names etc. I'm not importing any PDF's into QGIS, I'm looking to export a PDF (Using Export Map to PDF) with just the words (street names, road names etc). Is this something that can be done? Thanks so much
    – Oli Sard
    Oct 22 '19 at 18:30
  • The steps I explained here are exactly how to create a layer of just the words arranged on a blank map. The point of importing the pdf into QGIS is to give you a reference to help you create the names and arrange them on the map. If you don't want to import the pdf you can just place them freehand, but that seems more difficult than doing it with a map underneath it. The layer has to have some spatial information (eg points), otherwise QGIS won't know where to put them.
    – csk
    Oct 22 '19 at 18:35
  • Every type of thing you want labeled already exists, but they will all be in separate files. Tracking them down and combining them into one map would be a lot of work, but the basic principle is the same: add the layer to the map, turn on labeling and turn off symbology. ESRI does provide a map layer that's just labels, but you can't change the font. You can get it through the QuickMapServices plugin.
    – csk
    Oct 22 '19 at 18:38
  • Thank you CSK. Is there a particular layer name I should be looking for in QuickMapServices? Thanks
    – Oli Sard
    Oct 22 '19 at 19:45

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