I am new to QGIS and the questions asked and answered here about the North Arrow do not seem to help me solve my problem below.

In the main mapping pane of QGIS 2.2.0 Valmiera, I can add the scale and north arrow, but as soon as I go to the Composer to print a map, those two things disappear from the map that I open in the composer.

The Composer has something which allows me to add a scale thing, but it shows the actual scale on the paper that I'll be printing on and not the actual scale of the surface of the earth of the displayed map. I even tried refreshing the map but it did not work.

The bottom line is this: How do I get a scale thing (sorry!) (expanding and contracting in values as I zoom in and out) in Composer, and how do I get a North Arrow in there as well.

1 Answer 1


The north arrow is added as an image. The behaviour of the scale depends on the CRS of your data/map.

Once you start inserting an image in the composer, you should get the option to select from a library of icons, and a subfolder is arrows, of which there are are many types. Once the image is installed, there is an option to keep the rotation of the arrow synchonised with the map.

Image showing arrow options

It seems the scale problem you mention is like it is set to 1:1. This is not the default AFAIK. I almost always work in a UTM (metres) CRS for the main mapping pane (the canvas) and so the addition of the scale bar is trouble fee. If you are working with degrees your mileage may vary. Keep working with that tool.

A simplistic answer, hope its a start.

  • Hi Willy!Thanks for your answer! I have to admit that I had to Google what CRS meant for the first portion of your answer. hehe - I'm a total noob when it comes to GIS software!
    – user30413
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 19:55
  • Anyway, I appreciate the answer re the fact that the North Arrow is simply inserted as a picture. That was great.
    – user30413
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 19:56
  • Then, as far as the scale thing is concerned, I found that it was indeed the CRS that was causing problems, but also the way I manipulated/changed the "Label" and "Map units per bar unit" in the Units section of the Item Properties tab.
    – user30413
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 20:02
  • I kept the Units as Meters and changed the "Map units per bar unit" to 1,000 and then overtyped the m (for meter) in the "Label" box with km. Each 1,000m then reflected 1km on the bar on the map.
    – user30413
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 20:05
  • 1
    Having the north arrow be a picture feels wholly inadequate - depending on the projection, there's no way to make sure it actually points north! But, this is hardly the place for a QGIS RFE ;-)
    – Flyto
    Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 12:06

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