As you see on the attached image, I labelled contour lines on the map (in meters). Which function will allow the "halo" to take the background color of the map?

On the image, the halo is greenish which diminish the look of the map.

I use ArcMAP 10.

enter image description here

  • I guess I misunderstand. If you want a halo to be the same colour of the background, why use a halo? This seems to be defeat the purpose of the use of a halo. Am I missing something? Mar 1, 2013 at 17:41
  • Usually this refers to the desire to "break" the contour lines so the text is more legible, rather than overposting the text onto the contour line. I am guessing @Doum wants the halo color to "change" based upon the shade of the green background. Mar 1, 2013 at 18:04
  • Yes RyanDalton, this is why I use halo. I want to "break" the contour lines so the text is more legible.
    – Doum
    Mar 1, 2013 at 18:40

4 Answers 4


It's possible but not dynamic.

I export labels to annotaions, buffer the annotations a little bit then use the resulting polygon feature class to mask the contour lines. Turn visibility of the buffer features class off and the line below the annotation will be masked so it doesn't matter what the background is. (example below)

Other solutions that I've seen break the line and remove a small portion of the elevation contour just below the annotation.

enter image description here


You can only set the Halo Background color manually. If you know what the background should be, then set it manually to that particular color.

Here is how you can set the halo for a label.

In addition, If you have Maplex, you can use the contour placement algorithm.

  • Frustrating, but true. I long for this functionality.
    – nmpeterson
    Mar 1, 2013 at 22:07

This issue is described in detail on the ESRI Mapping Center "Ask a Cartographer" question: "Labeling contours", which starts out:

The best solution would probably be variable-depth masking, unless you have a background that is only one color. If you do have a single color background, you can use a halo effect on the text – make the halo the same color as the background.


Yeah, the problem with that situation is that your halo will occupy varying colorspace. The above user is correct for the actual mechanism, however. Are you using any other application for post processing like AI or Photoshop? Unfortunately, I know of no way to have a transparent halo in arcgis....that would be cool though.

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