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Prevent Specific Layer's Labels from Overlapping Other Layers?

a month ago
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New Contributor III

I have some state labels that are overlapping county labels. Only a subset of counties are shown, so there is a LOT of space for the state labels to go that is not within any of the displayed counties.

How do I 'tell' only the state labels to not overlap with the counties? It seems like I have to set interior and buffer weights on the county layer, but I want the county labels to appear within the county boundaries and overlap the boundaries when necessary.

Thank you and apologies in advance if I am overlooking an obvious setting. 

Randy McGregor

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New Contributor

Have you tried setting a label buffer with hard constraint checked for the state labels? I think this may be what you're looking for. The label buffer specifies an area around the label where no other labels should exist. Checking hard constraint ensures there are no other labels in this region (which may result in unplaced labels if there is not enough space for them).



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Occasional Contributor II

Hi Randy,

I found a really neat (newish to me) tool in labeling which is label priority. You access it in the map by selecting a feature class, then select labeling (top center of your screen) and then selecting More and then Priorities.


When you open this you can drag the feature classes up or down depending on their label priority to you.


In the More panel you can also mess around with weights, too. I've found priorities is quick and works well.

Make sure your Maplex search engine is turned on. It's usually checked in the More box.

For the mechanics of this, I think it's a good idea to spend some time reading the help sections on labeling and legends and then trying different options with a scratch map. Here's a good free esri training video on labeling: .

For the design elements of this, I would consult a map making book like Principles of Map Design by Judith Tyner or this nice one-pager by Aileen Buckley at esri.

Once you've gotten familiar with placements, priorities and weights, the next step in your trajectory is Convert labels to annotation. This is for finished print-worthy work. It's static, though and remains in place regardless of magnification.