I am working with a very large data set. When I label my polygons, the labels display like a highway of labels through the middle of my map. I'm using ArcGIS 9.3. I have tried to fix it with Maplex, but then won't even display in any fashion. When I use the standard label method, they show up, but they are all over the place, some polygons show 3 or 4 labels, only one of them being the label for that polygon. Any idea what the problem, or better yet, solution might be?

  • 3
    do you have an example (image) ?
    – Mapperz
    Nov 17, 2010 at 19:34

3 Answers 3


Without seeing an example image or the actual data it is hard to determine.

But, if you have large irregular shaped polys the actual "wieghted" centroid could be outside of the polygon. that is how esri creates their centroids.

If you look for the polygon settings in maplex you should see label only inside polygon. you might try that. see other posts recently for more "tips" on labeling.

  • Thank you! I did this but it didn't work. If you have any other suggestions, I'm open!
    – Amack
    Nov 17, 2010 at 21:30
  • can you post something?
    – Brad Nesom
    Nov 18, 2010 at 16:29

Maybe you have overlapping polygons in your data set? If you have a large polygon on top of a smaller one, this will hide the smaller polygon - but not the label. In the Placement Properties for labels, you will find the option "Only place label inside polygon", which should prevent labels from being placed on other polygons (unless they are placed on top of each other). If your data set is stored in a file geodatabase or a personal geodatabase - or even in shape files - you could try the Check Geometry tool in ArcToolbox to see if there are any strange geometric errors in your data set. Use the Repair Geometry tool to handle these possible errors and then see how your labels are acting.

Good luck :-)


I would create a new shapefile with centroids of your polygons with QGis and this plugin. Then add this new point shapefile to the project and label it. So at the end, you will have labels at the absolute correct centre of your polygons (centroid points).

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