When I'm using the layout tool in QGIS, I would like to be able to preview exactly what the symbols would look like before exporting my map. Currently, symbol sizes are dependent on my zoom scale (i.e. 75%, 120% and so on). The only way that I seem to be able to do this is by setting my symbols to "map units". While a valid option, I don't understand why there isn't a way to preview it within the layout tool? Would it take too long to render?

EDIT: I've included pictures below. The red dots change size depending on scale, but the white squares stay the same because they use map units. The first image is at a 1:1 zoom level:

Zoomed-in map

Zoomed-out map

Exported image

2 Answers 2


The QGIS Layout should be WYSIWYG, so this is strange. In Layout you can zoom in and out, but that is a pure "image" zoom (all layout elements and the map will be enlarged / reduced in size proportionally, no matter how they are defined).

Regarding symbol sizes:

  • When you use "map units" for Size units, the rendering size (size of the symbols on your map) will depend on the scale. This is what you seem to call "same size". You are correct that the symbols will cover the same area in the terrain. But the actual size in pixels / millimeters on the screen / map will vary with the map scale.
  • If you use pixels, millimeters or inches, your symbol sizes will be scale independent, that is the size in mm / pixels on map / screen will be constant.
  • I've added some screenshots to my comment. Your comment holds for other projects, but not this one. Is there something that I need to toggle? Commented Feb 28, 2020 at 17:14

Just click on a magnifying glass icon with the text 1:1 inside it enter image description here

The drawing will be shown in actual size in the exported or printed file.

  • I've added some screenshots to my comment. The 1:1 tool renders the symbols at the correct size, but I can't see the entire canvas that way. Using map units, mm or inches keeps symbols consistent in other projects, but not this one. What could be causing that discrepancy? Commented Feb 28, 2020 at 17:15
  • @HarrisonCarto Check the projection of your project and the projection defined in your layout map in my properties on the right. Map units vary in each projection system. Add some screenshot of the style from this layer. Commented Feb 28, 2020 at 19:09

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