Anyone know of a decent way to label a large street network for large scale printing that doesn't involve manual editing/shifting? Even with advance placement properties there seems to be a number of overlaps and just general poor placement of the labels. This is not a straight forward network as there is a ton of variation between road lengths and shape.

Any plugins exist that might help or other programs that do a better job at labeling?

  • Are your roads represented as lines or polygons? If polygons, there might be an option to have all labels inside. With lines it could be a lot more complicated.
    – Martin
    Dec 4, 2013 at 13:25
  • The road network are lines
    – rspencer38
    Dec 4, 2013 at 13:46
  • What version of arcgis are you using?
    – artwork21
    Dec 4, 2013 at 13:56
  • I am using 10.2
    – rspencer38
    Dec 4, 2013 at 18:05

2 Answers 2


There are no dynamic labeling engines that can place all labels perfectly. Maplex does a great job but it should only be considered the first step for label placements especially when the resulting product is meant for print. If your scale is "set in stone", you might want to use feature linked annotations to manually place some labels but still maintain a "live" link between the annotation and the data.

For labeling road Maples gives a lot of options - try street placement, fitting strategies, removal of duplicates in conjunction with repeating labels, connect features, conflict resolutions, remove overlapping labels, etc. Try toggling between fast and best labeling as well; it does make a difference especially when using leaders. When carefully adjusting all parameters for a given scale, I get good results, but still - never perfect.

  • I figured as much, so much fine tuning on a large data-set will eat up so much time, but if it needs to be done so be it!
    – rspencer38
    Dec 4, 2013 at 18:06

When trying to accomplish the same thing in the past I created rules based on the length of street segments to pare down the amount of labels displayed (eg only display labels on street segments .5 mile or longer). To do this use the label expression functionality. You can also create label priority and weighting constraints. See: http://resources.arcgis.com/en/help/main/10.1/index.html#//00s80000000t000000. Unfortunately, with a large, complex street layer trial and error may be the best method. Unless anyone else has other ideas?

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