Change labeling expression/parameters after conversion to annotation?

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03-02-2020 01:12 PM
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New Contributor II

TL;DR

Hello, I would like to know if there's any way to change labeling parameters after you convert labels to an annotation. Is there any way for the annotations to remain linked to the label expression and parameters as set in the Properties>Labeling tab?

I am currently using ArcMap 10.4

Typically, the only reason I convert labels to an annotation is for better placement. After conversion to annotations, the only change I make is manually moving them around in layout view. Many projects I work on often will have simple updates or revisions of what we want fields to label, or simple text/font/color formatting. For example our original label might be "ID," and new label is "ID & elevation." Another example is we often make multiple map figures of the same location, but display different parameters for each figure. So map 1's labels are "ID & FieldA", map 2 is "ID & FieldB", ... etc.

With normal annotations, there's no way to "bulk update" the labels that they came from. I have to delete the entire annotation layer, make new labels with the new expression, convert them again, and move them all around again just to update them. There's got to be a better way to do this. Is there any way for them to remain linked to the label expression and parameters as set in the Properties>Labeling tab?

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MVP Regular Contributor

Maybe some wrangling of the feature linked annotation would achieve this, eg adding a new field based on an updated expression. 

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New Contributor II

Thanks for the suggestion David. Unfortunately it doesn't seem like feature-linked annotations will solve our issue. The short story is that they're too clunky for their own good.

First off, you can only make extremely minor formatting adjustments afterward )

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New Contributor II

Sorry, original reply glitched out and got posted before I was done typing.
Thanks for the suggestion David. Unfortunately it doesn't seem like feature-linked annotations will solve our issue. The short story is that they're too clunky for their own good.

As a “minor” inconvenience you can only make extremely basic formatting adjustments afterward. This could be dealt with, but now come the real problems.

First major problem is what I’ll call placement resetting. Say for instance I label a bunch of polygons on their “Name” field. And then I move one to a better placement so it’s more readable. If I then update the name for that feature, its placement gets completely reset. Like, what’s even the point of feature-linked annotations if it just resets when there’s any changes?

Second major issue is with clunky append functionality. The append option sounds useful, if only it worked well. It basically lets you create new additional labeling parameters, then append them onto preexisting labels. The problem is that the placement is utter garbage. It is so terrible that it’s not even useful and simply creates more work than it fixes.

Unfortunately unless there’s some secret to making these features function better, then completely deleting and making labels from scratch is the only way to go for now.

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