I did a subtraction of a data frame in ArcGIS using the following steps. I prepared a layout in ArcGIS. There is a lot of empty space at the top of layout page. So I want to remove this space. I used a graphic operation to remove it.

  1. Created a graphic rectangle that the same size as the Data Frame
  2. Created another rectangle covering empty space
  3. Selected rectangle 2, then rectangle 1, and chose--> Graphic Opperations --> Subtract.
  4. In the last step, I wanted to clip the subtracted image by "Outline of Selected graphic". But 'Outline of selected graphic' is not activated. I can't click it. I'm wondered why this is not activated?

ArcMap is very picky about enabling the option to clip a data frame to "Outline of selected graphics." I don't remember where I read it, but here's the trick. Before you create the graphic element you want to use for clipping, right click on the data frame (while in Layout View) and choose "Focus Data Frame" (shown below).

Focus data frame

The outline of the dataframe will have hash marks on it while it is "focused".

Hash marks around focused data frame

Then, draw the graphic element you want to use for clipping.

Graphic element for clipping shape

The clip data frame to "Outline of selected graphics" option is now available.

Option is available

The data frame is now clipped.

Clipped data frame

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  • This solution is not working for me. How do you access the data frame properties when the shape is selected? As long as the shape is the selected element, right-clicking to access the properties only opens the shape's properties, even with the data frame set as "focused" and displaying the hashmarks. Same result whether I right-click in the shape or just in the data frame. Am I the only one running into this issue? – mikeLdub Jun 30 '16 at 20:58
  • @mikeLdub this is probably too late of an answer, but hopefully this will help others in the future, but you can select data frame properties by going to View > Data Frame Properties – Emma Pascoe Aug 12 '19 at 13:36

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