Convert labels to graphics - choose to add to group rather than replace

04-03-2022 07:57 PM
Status: Open
Labels (1)
Occasional Contributor

When converting labels to graphics it puts the graphics in a group layer (default GroupGraphics). When you convert a subsequent set of labels (from a different layer usually but maybe not) the default Output Layer default is the same as before but instead of adding another set of graphics to the group it replaces the group entirely. 

Not sure what the point of putting these graphics layers in a group in the first place is if there is only going to be one layer in the group but it would be really good if you could choose to state a different group layer to be created or if you use the same group layer as is already in the map the new graphics would just be added to the group.

I don't know about other people but I don't really want multiple group layers with one graphics layer a piece in my map and so I'm constantly creating the graphics in a separate group, moving the new graphics layer into the original group layer and then removing the empty group. Be good if this could be streamlined.

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Thanks for the feedback. When the Output Layer parameter is the same as an existing group layer (such as the default "GroupGraphics") a warning displays by the tool parameter warning you of such. 

If an enhancement is made to this tool, do users think it's best to change the default parameter to add an iterator number after the default value if it already exists in the map (i.e. "GroupGraphics1")? Or is it more important to be able to add the new graphics or annotation layers to the existing group if it exists?

You should generally expect better overall label placement if you convert the whole map at once instead of layer-by-layer. Can you please provide more details about your workflow that you're converting the layers to graphics one at a time instead of converting the whole map at once? We'd like to understand how different users are using the tool. 


Hi there,

Thanks for getting back to me.

Yes I've seen the exclamation mark but you know - you see that all over the place when you actually want to overwrite things so sometimes it stops registering.

Normally I am converting labels to graphics when regular labelling isn't doing the job and you need to move things around.  I don't want to do that for every labelled layer in my map just the one or two that are causing issues so I can't really think of any time when I would want to convert all labels from all my layers (if I have multiple labelled features) in my map. However maps evolve.  I don't always know at the beginning all the layers I want in the map.  I don't always know every layer I am eventually going to label.  And you might decide to make the labels of one layer graphics, move them around and then decide that another layer is not working either. And sometimes you have it all set up, sorted all the labels (and graphic labels) and then someone says they want something else on the map.  I'm not going to redo everything I've already set up - just add the new layer and sort out the labelling.

Hope that makes sense...


by Anonymous User

Makes sense to me! 🙂 I support this idea. I would love the ability to be able to add the new annotation layers to an existing group.


@JesseWickizer I agree wholeheartedly with @MicheleH1_DNReply .  To give an example of a workflow where this would be useful - 

I am frequently adding features to an existing feature class that has labels shown as graphics (due to densely spaced features, automatic labeling does not work well for this). After creating new features, I need them to be labeled. The feature class already has a large number of labels for preexisting features that I don't want to go back and rearrange. For the sake of neatness and ease of navigation, I would prefer to have all of my label graphics for a particular feature class to be in a single graphics layer (or at least within the same graphics group).  It would be ideal, when converting labels to graphics, to have the option to either add the labels to an existing graphics layer (ideally at same reference scale), or to a new graphics layer within an existing graphics group.  That would make it easier to organize graphics by type (e.g. "Sample Location Labels" and "Site Features Labels").

This process is a very frequent need for my workflow and that of my team, so having that functionality would greatly improve the user experience, in my opinion - particularly since it's something that was possible in Arcmap (adding annotation to an existing annotation layer). The current setup doesn't make sense to me; as the original poster stated, it's odd to have a graphics group if it can only contain a single layer.


@AmieCarlone thank you for the great details on your workflow. Please be sure to add your kudos to the original idea!


Greetings all.

In a somewhat related area, I am struggling with adding a single label to an existing graphics group.  The circumstance is that the scale of an inset changes, so certain point features that previously weren't in the inset are now within it.  The other features have been labeled automatically, converted to graphics, and the graphic elements moved around to accommodate tight spaces etc.  I don't wish to do that again.  In some cases, a feature's attributes have changed and I need to update the label.

In ArcMap, there was a tool in the drawing menu that would simply LABEL INDIVIDUAL FEATURES.  You would click on the feature, and presto! a label perfectly matched to all the others, same style, same expression, drawn from the feature attributes just like the original label set. Why is that gone?

I've been able to create a graphic using the tools available, but I must first select the style and then manually type in the feature ID and any other information.  Alternatively, I can select the unlabeled feature, label it, and create a whole new graphics layer with one element, then copy that element and paste it into the layer with its cohort.  Not huge difficulties if you only have to do it now and then.  But I don't understand why a tool that worked so well has been taken out of the repertoire.

Am I missing something?  Will someone please tell me this tool still exists and that I just haven't been bright enough to find it?




@ERamos2534, the Auto Text Tool allows you to label individual features in a graphics layer.