Can someone please tell if it is possible to rename legend items in the map layout in ArcGIS for Desktop?

If yes, how can I do it?

  • 2
    manually or programmatically? Commented Mar 11, 2011 at 22:54
  • 1
    I know this is a old posting, but since this is still active, I thought I would add additional information on this subject. By simply changing the layer name in the table of contents will not change the way the Legend displays that layer's name. What you have to do is select the layer's properties, and select the Symbology tab and select Features from the left hand navigation tree. Once there you will see a text box next to "Label appearing next to the symbol in the table of contents". Enter the description of the layer you want to show in the Legend in this box. Hope this helps.
    – user29688
    Commented Apr 29, 2014 at 14:57
  • To clarify on Jakub's answer, once you convert your legend to graphics, you can then left click again and click "ungroup". To separate the symbol from the text, you can ungroup again. Hope this helps the user who commented! :)
    – Melanie
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 13:04
  • This does not provide an answer to the question. Once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post; instead, provide answers that don't require clarification from the asker. - From Review
    – MaryBeth
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 14:10

3 Answers 3


Several ways...
In the layer properties dialog on the general tab you can change the name and description.
In the table of contents select the name and click again. You will be able to type anything you want. You should also note that when in the legend if you select the layer and then the style button changing the style to layer name with label, heading with label, heading with label description. So on so forth... legend

also in the layer dialog

  • I recently had to deal with this issue and want to add an important note here. In cases where you have more than one map in the layout (such as inset maps), you need to change the layer and data heading names in the active data frame for changes to be reflected on the legend.
    – MECoskun
    Commented Mar 2, 2021 at 16:13

You could also convert the legend to graphics and explode it to individual graphic and text elements. You will loose the dynamic link to the layers but you will be able to easily control all properties of each item in the legend.

  • 1
    It would have been great if you'd explained this...
    – pbreach
    Commented Apr 2, 2017 at 18:57

You can change the values under the Label heading in the Symbology tab (not the Label tab). You can rename the layers in the Table of Contents. You can convert your legend to graphics and do various things with them.

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