I try to add labels to polygons in ArcMap 10 based on a field in the corresponding attribute table.

However, the labels always appear inside the polygon, and I can't find an option that lets me put the labels beside the polygons. How do I achieve this? Thanks.

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    do you have access to the Maplex Extension? – Mapperz May 9 '11 at 15:31
  • @Mapperz: No I don't. Do I have to buy it? Thanks. – hpy May 9 '11 at 15:41
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    I would recommend it - it depends on how much cartographic and text placement you do? Text placement control is fundamental to good mapping. ArcInfo comes with it Free now (not arcview or arceditor licence levels) – Mapperz May 9 '11 at 16:02
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    As of version 10.1, Maplex is now standard with Desktop products at all levels. See announcement – Llaves Feb 26 '13 at 15:48

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Click the Label Manager button Label Manager on the Labeling toolbar.
Check the check box next to the layer you want to label.
Choose a label class under the layer.
Click the Properties button.
Click the Label Position tab.
Click Label Offset.
Type a default distance.

This is the minimum distance at which the label will be offset.
Click the Units drop-down arrow and choose the units with which the offset will be measured.
Type a maximum distance at which the label may be offset.

Optionally, check the Measure offset from feature geometry check box.
Click OK to close all dialog boxes.


  • I got as far as clicking on the Properties button, but here is no Label Position tab! – hpy May 9 '11 at 16:07
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    the other thing you might try is to set your object priority higher and see if that will force it outside. It is sad that the maplex functionality is not in base arcmap. – Brad Nesom May 9 '11 at 16:19
  • I activated the 60 day evaluation for Maplex, and set the object priority higher per @Brad Nesom, and now the labeling works. I just wish there is a Free and open source way to do this. Thanks for the answers. – hpy May 9 '11 at 16:32
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    @Brad Nesom agree with Maplex should be integrated into all license levels and should be standard 'out of the box' (esri products are expensive enough without extensions) – Mapperz May 9 '11 at 17:22

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