ArcGIS Pro Legend Options

06-07-2018 02:27 PM
Status: Implemented
Labels (1)
Occasional Contributor III

Can we have some more control over creation of Legends? Specifically I'd like to have the option when creating a Legend to have all items turn OFF by Default.  I'd also like a "Select All" so I can quickly create a legend with all Items On or Off by default. Ideally I'd like a Create Legend with only items I want to be included actually created in the Legend.  I think Allowing certain "universal Legend" setting to take place at creation could save time. For example, I'd like to be able to choose the Default Legend Text (before the legend is created), I'd like to choose the default Option of Showing a Title and what that default Title should be (before the legend is created), I'd like the default options of what Legend items I want to be turned on - descriptions, headings etc, (before the legend is created).

I know the developers were probably trying to avoid too many wizards and streamlining things but Legends are one area where users need more control and not just after the Legend is created - we need to be able to control HOW our default Legend creation looks.  I wouldn't even mind "Legend Templates".  


Pro in my opinion still has a long way to go. Things like Legends just don't work correctly. They are pushing hard in my org. to use PRO. I to have dupe maps in Desktop and PRO just because things simply don't work, or just not there.

And why do change things that don't need changing for instance the display elements like border and background you change the X,Y gaps units from points to inches???

and what's with the grips??? It took awhile to add catalog back in and 4 some odd years before getting free text and graphics in production so this is probably on their backburner...cheers!


This is truly maddening. At my work we often need to reproduce a full set of maps for reports that must have the exact same layout styles. Changing one item such as a label in a legend item and having the entire legend revert back to default formatting is unacceptable for a software that purports to be used for any kind of document production. I want to like Pro, but some very important parts of the UI are clearly afterthoughts.


I have a project and of course the layout has a legend... This legend I tried using the drop shadow, didn't like it and took it off... so  i set the offset back to 0. saved the project. and everytime I open that project it has a drop shadow!!! like I never switched the offset back to zero!! but before I can print I have to set back to zero then save...EVERY TIME!


I agree that the ArcPro legend options are not quite as intuitive as I would like them to be.  I am having a hard time trying to figure out how to rename the Legend Items taken from a specific field.  For example, I have a Call Type for our Fire Department symbolized by an NFIRS number series: 100, 200, 300, 400, etc.  Since the map is not being made for those not familiar with the number series, I need to change the number series to text that anyone could understand.  So in the Legend, it would look like: Fire, Overpressure Rupture & Explosions, Rescue & EMS, etc. -respectively.  In ArcMap, you would just need to hover over the item, click once, and rename the legend item/symbology name.  There does not seem to be that type of choice with ArcPro.

The only work around that I can think of is to create another text field that holds the descriptions for that number series, but then I would need to re-symbolize everything again.  Am I missing something?



The way I handle this is to change the description of the elements in the symbology interface. The Legend updates from that.

So if I’m following your example, if you symbolize by NFIRS number, you’ll need to change the description of the number in the symbology. So if NFIRS number is 100 but that means “South Metro Fire District” for example, you’d click on the NFIRS symbology interface and in the Symbology description , right-click and change the description from 100 to “South Metro Fire District”. That change will update your legend.

Not as easy or intuitive as ArcMap but it gets the legend to show the way you expect.

Hope that helps.

Sean Hlousek

GIS Manager

1001 17th Street Suite 1250

Denver CO 80203



303-226-9516 (O)

303-565-0224 (M)


Work with a legend item—Layouts | Documentation 

Not sure if there has been some progress in Legend settings since many of these posts were made, or if it may be more a matter of people expecting functionality like ArcMap, finding that it is not, and becoming frustrated without really accepting that Pro is a different product, it functions different, there is a learning curve, and it will take some research, learning and time to become efficient with the new interface. I've made a lot of maps in both ArcMap and in Pro, and I cringe every time I have to go back to ArcMap (e.g. a client needs an MXD plus a map). From my experience, Pro provides much more fine-grain control over the legend.

A legend is potentially a complex element: you can have simplicity of creation or you can have a high degree of customization. You can't have both. Pro has opted to make legends highly customization, and I'm happy about it.

I don't think the interface is quite perfect yet (I came to ESRI today looking for a way to save default text settings in the legend, because I too was annoyed by the giant default font size. Found the answer in the link above). Some items could be a little more intuitive. But as far as I'm concerned it's a giant leap forward from ArcMap.



Thank You for the link. That is a good source for various Legend Properties and ways to customize legends.

The functionality I was originally looking for is still not present in Pro. (That I am aware of).

I'd like to be able to set "universal" default legend properties so when I create a new legend SOME of the properties will already be set. I'd like this functionality at the application, (not project), level.

For example, I make my legends with a solid, (usually grey) background, with a .1 inch X and Y border and background gap. The default setting in Pro is a transparent background with no X or Y offset so EVERY time I create a legend, I am re-setting these values. This example is just three settings and like you say, Pro DOES offer some good customization. (The link you provided goes into details on those controls). But, that level of customization means there are a LOT of settings that require tweaking or adjusting with each legend you create.

I'd like to be able to set some of those settings "globally" so I have to do less "legend-tweaking" with each one I create.

I agree with you that Legend control has improved between Arc Map and Pro, (although I still miss the check-box where I could define at which point in legend items where a new column would begin).

I'd just like some ability to set behaviors for all of my projects so I don't have to repeat the same steps.

By The Way: Since the posting of this idea I have learned that you CAN control which items are included in a new legend by highlighting the items you wish to include in your Table of Contents. If you do not highlight any items, Pro includes ALL Items by default. This functionality has saved me a LOT of time in the past couple of years!




We have legend styles and legend item styles in our near-term product plan for Pro. These styles would allow you to create a legend from an existing jumping-off point instead of from scratch each time.  This would include options like always having a legend title on, or a background color. These styles can also be used across projects and shared with other teammates. It won't address adding all items turned off, or only adding specific items, but there are some tricks in the existing software for that.

If you select layers in the map and then add a legend, only the selected items will be added to the legend. In the Contents Pane, if you expand the legend and uncheck the first legend item to turn it off while holding the Control key, all the legend items will be turned off.

You can also find more legend tips and tricks on this blog: 

With the information about upcoming styles and the options already provided in the software would it be okay with you if I mark this as In Product Plan? Or are there pieces here you don't feel are addressed and should still be noted as ideas?

Status changed to: Implemented

With the introduction of legend styles in ArcGIS Pro 2.9, I'm going to mark this as implemented. These styles should address any remaining concerns mentioned in the original comment. 


For a quick demo of legend styles in ArcGIS Pro 2.9, go to 3:13 in the Ideas in ArcGIS Pro 2.9 video.

And see many other ideas you can expect to find when you upgrade by checking out Ideas in ArcGIS Pro 2.9