In ArcGIS Desktop 10.1, I am trying to create a marker symbol (and then save the symbol as a style), but the origin of the items makes them rotate improperly (see pictures).

Is there any way to merge all of the layers of the symbol? Or modify the origin of rotation?

Before rotation

After Rotation - Incorrect

I am using the simple marker with multiple layers. The circle is the default circle with a second smaller white one added on top to create the label box. The main problem is the triangle should rotate around the origin of the circle, but I don't know how to modify this is the style editor. Thoughts?

  • What is the name of the circular symbol that you are using? Is it one of ESRI's standard character marker symbols, or something else? I am trying to recreate your problem, but all of my symbol combinations seem to rotate as expected.
    – JWallace
    Feb 17, 2014 at 20:36
  • please edit your question and explain the type of symbol you are creating. simple marker, picture marker, character marker, arrow marker, or a 3d?
    – Brad Nesom
    Feb 17, 2014 at 20:52
  • Can you use QGIS for your project? Then you could draw your own SVG symbol that rotates correctly. Feb 17, 2014 at 21:26

1 Answer 1


I reproduced your problem and noticed that rotating behavior depends on the marker types used to create your multi-layer marker:

Use character markers instead of other marker types if you want a multi-layer symbol to be rotated as a whole.

Simple Marker, Arrow Marker and Picture Marker layers rotate individually.

Each Simple Marker, Arrow Marker and Picture Marker layer rotates about its own center. This eventually breaks the layout of your multi-layer symbol if non-zero offsets are used.

ArcGIS screenshot, showing simple marker rotation ArcGIS screenshot, showing simple marker rotation breaking multi-layer-symbol
(Above example: rotation of a symbol, consisting of multiple simple markers and an arrow marker.)

Character Marker Layers always rotate about the common origin (0,0)

Use character marker symbols for all layers with non-zero offset in order to avoid individual rotation of your symbol layers. However, you are bound to font symbols and their available characters. (If you are looking for simple arrows and such, most probably you find what you need.)

ArcGIS screenshot, showing character marker rotation ArcGIS screenshot, showing character marker rotation about common origin
(Above example: rotation of a symbol, consisting of multiple character markers.)

Avoid rotation and placement issues by using a single layer symbol

If these options do not fit your needs, you could design your marker symbol with any graphics software (e.g. Inkscape or Illustrator for vector graphics) and import it to ArcGIS as a single picture marker symbol. (Possible file formats include emf (vector graphics) or png or bmp (raster graphics).)

The "silver bullet" would be to create your own font (this also supports anti-aliasing in contrast to picture marker symbols) and use a single character marker symbol. However, this is most likely disproportionate (and inflexible to changes) for a single symbol.

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