I have to create a map which involves 2 overlapping Layers. The underlying layer is coloured, the upper layer is hatched. On top of this I need to annotate the regions.

In ArcGIS the dirtiest method is to simply attach a halo to the text. Then the text is always readable. But I find the halo covers up so much area of the map and in print looks pretty awful.

I was thinking of exporting the geometries into The Gimp or Illustrator....but then my GIS Workflows become very complicated and updates are much more difficult to do.

Does anyone have any good examples of annotating under similar conditions and can offer some good advice?

Map with hatching and annotations

  • Could you add a screenshot/example of how it looks?
    – Martin
    Dec 9, 2013 at 8:57
  • Most professional cartographers I know of, use a multi stage process. They export from ArcMap to AI, and then manipulate in Adobe Illustrator. I do not think that ArcMap can produce 100% print ready maps. Dec 9, 2013 at 9:03
  • Generally I use some transparency (say 50%) in the halo. It makes the anotations visible, without bolocking completly the backgroud. In ArcGIS I have to do it in Illustrator. But in QGIS, I can do it without using other software. Dec 9, 2013 at 10:39

1 Answer 1


I agree that a simple halo doesn't look great, however there is one solution that can be used within the Arc environment. It is possible to give the halo a variable background using a masking layer as described in this page.

Your annotations must be in a geodatabase and you would want to make sure you are happy with the placement before you do the processing but it does improve the look of the labelling quite a lot.enter image description here

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

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