I am trying to print a contour shapefile to an image (jpg) with a transparent background instead of white. What I want to do is add this into powerpoint as a layer over the top of a basemap so I can see both the basemap and the contours.

I realize that there are ways around this. Example, I could just print two different maps; one with the contours and basemap and one with just the basemap. I also know that I could also use the remove background in powerpoint, but we had issues with some of the maps not picking out the right areas.

However, my boss is adamant that there should be a way to do this exclusively in ArcMap. Anybody know of a way.


Is combining the basemap and the contours in ArcMap and exporting from there not an option? If you haven't tried that, it's where I would start.

Otherwise, I would export your contour lines using the PNG format - on the 'Format' tab of the "Export Map" dialog you can specify a color to be transparent or specify the background to be transparent. One of those should do the trick.

enter image description here

Good luck!

  • 1
    I tried this in an attempt to answer the question myself, but was still getting a non-transparent background when I imported a .png to PP. But if you then use the set transparent colour tool in PP that appears to do the trick. – MAJ742 Aug 13 '13 at 15:09

Sometimes using a TIFF format makes this way more reliable because you can set the background color in Arc and then also modify it in the Office Suite as well. If you are using PowerPoint then I would recommend a TIFF over another format (obviously PNG would work in the Arc half but I'm not sure you can modify it in PP)

  • I would like to welcome you to our site, although these circumstances--after several downvotes--are a rather unfortunate introduction! I suspect several people may have misunderstood your recommendation, because they have flagged this as a post that does not seem to answer the question. Would you mind expanding on this answer with a fuller explanation of what precisely you are recommending the original poster should do to solve their problem? – whuber Oct 9 '13 at 16:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.