I am trying to map a count data type via graduated symbol against a chloropleth and the legend is too big.

The circles of the graduated symbols are the actual size of their corresponding values in the map, which is good for interpreting the legend but is not good because they overlap and in order for space to be created between them, the legend stretches absurdly along the y axis.

Is there any way to scale the circles back to half the size of the mapped symbols?

I stretched out the legend as you can see below, aesthetically it wasn't ideal.

this is what my map looked like when i stretched out the legend, it was rather ridiculous looking

got the answer! enter image description here

  • 1
    could you post a Picture of your legend? Be careful when modifying the size of the symbols in the legend. The values behind the symbols should be clearly interpretable from the legend. A good cartographic solution would be to give just one example Symbol and state something like 1cm of height represents value XY. So you can avoid very large symbols in the legend. You might need to do this manually since I don't if QGIS let's you do this via the menu.
    – Chris P
    Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 8:57

3 Answers 3


I can see two workarounds:

  1. You can scale symbols on the layer to be acceptable size in the legend, add it in the print composer, uncheck "Update legend" and then scale the symbols back to previous values
  2. Add a second layer with scaled back symbols and then make the legend on the basis of the second layer while displaying the first one on the map
  • this works well and I will edit my post above to include an image showing the legend correctly sized though not finished.
    – user25902
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 4:19

Just a comment to note that if you are using size of circles to represent something, you can't have a different size on the legend. That would be wrong. Just change the symbols on the map so that it looks right in the legend, or change your legend area.

Looking at your map again, it seems you have used buckets to group things by, but then you have different sized circles too. If you are using proportional circles, then these are not range buckets. You can use a colour to catch a range in a bucket. But proportional circles need to be scaled based on the AREA of the circle you are drawing.


I just wanted to add that when using the atlas function, the workaround simply disabeling the "Auto update"does not work. Even worse: If you select the atlas function and you have "Only show items inside current atlas feature" checked, it will update the legend and thus you will have to start over resizing the symbols. Because of this I highly recommend workaround 2: working with a copy of the layers and using the copy in the legend.

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