Formatting Labels

By default, all of the text labels in a labels component are formatted the same way based on the settings of the Format Toolbar for that labels component. See the Formatting Individual Labels topic for information on specifying formatting for individual labels.


Labels may be formatted using static settings as shown in the format toolbar, or they may be dynamically formatted in size, style, foreground color, border color, background color or rotation using thematic formatting as set forth in the Thematic Formatting and Labels topic.


At any time, we can change the formatting of any labels component by simply clicking on its layer tab in a map window or by clicking it open in its own labels window and changing the settings in the format toolbar for that labels component.




Consider, for example, the illustration shown above, which shows the Sea labels using the MS Sans Serif fault.




We can click open the Sea labels component and change the font to Monotype Corsiva with a font size of 14.




The result changes not only in any labels window for the Sea labels component but instantly in the map window as well.




At any time we can click on any labels layer tab in the map window to make it the active layer.




We can then change the formatting toolbar for that labels component. In this case we've changed the font to ScalaSans - Caps (a commercial font designed by Martin Majoor in Utrecht and available at in 18 point size in "outlined" style.


Note: for the "outlined" style to work correctly the Antialias text option must be checked in Tools - Options - User Interface.




The result is an instant change in the label formatting for the Land labels layer.


Label Colors


The default label style uses foreground color only. Some label styles will embellish the label through the use of border color and background color as well. In most styles using both foreground and background color the foreground color is overlaid upon the background color. Some styles will combine the foreground and background colors to create gradients.


Label Styles


Different styles are used for point labels and for line labels. Line labels use text only because they can be aligned to their host line. Point labels can use styles such as boxes and highway shields.




Consider a map of Europe over which we have created an unbound labels component. Using the Insert Label tool we have added a label with the text "Europe."




The label appears in the default format.




The format toolbar shows default settings for font characteristics such as size and the use of default colors for label foreground, border and background and default style as well.




To change the size of the font from 8 points to 20 points we click on the font size well in the format toolbar and we select 20 from the pull-down menu of available font sizes.






The format toolbar shows the new font size and the labels component will use that new font size for labels.




Next we will change the label style to a style that draws labels in a box.






The label will be drawn using the new style, which uses foreground color for the text, border color for the box's border and background color as the "fill" color in the box. Changing any one of these colors in the format toolbar will change the appearance of the labels.






For example, we can change the Label Background color to white.




This will change the color of the "fill" color in the box in this style.






We can change the Label Border color to red.




Instantly, the border of the label's box changes to red.






Likewise, we can change the Label Foreground color to blue...




...and the change will immediately occur in the labels display.


Transparent Color


Transparent color, shown with an X in the color well, may be used for any color attribute.






To specify transparent color as the background color we click on the background color well and choose transparent color.




This makes the white background fill color disappear from the label box, so that layers below the labels layer may be visible through the box.


Using transparent color for foreground color will make the entire label disappear. This is a short-hand convenience for turning labels off via thematic formatting.






Consider a label formatted like the above. The toolbar shows white foreground, red border and black background colors to create the display shown.






If we change foreground color to transparent color the entire label disappears.






If we use any color other than transparent color for foreground color the entire label reappears.


This short-hand convenience uses foreground color as the controlling color because it doesn't make much sense in most situations to use transparent color for the foreground color of a label since foreground color is normally used for the text of a label, the salient aspect of most labels. If transparent color were to be used for the text, the text could not be seen and the label would consist of whatever background, if any, is used by the style in use.


Enterprise Edition


Sharing a labels component with per-label formatting to an Enterprise server will save the necessary formatting information within that component. Importing or linking a shared labels component with per-label formatting will read the necessary formatting data from the server along with the component.




The /slist command line option provides a handy way of getting a list of all available label styles and their names for use by programmers. See the Command Line Options topic.


See Also



Formatting Individual Labels

Thematic Formatting and Labels

Label Display Options