Problem: Carriage returns in stacked annotation expressions appear as squares


Stacking characters in annotation expressions, including vbnewline, appear as multiple squares and the text is not stacked.


The coordinate system of the data frame is different from the coordinate system of the data. In other words, annotation projecting is on the fly.

In ArcGIS versions 8.2 and earlier, when annotation is projected on the fly, it becomes curved as part of the projection process, sometimes referred to 'densification'. Since stacking characters are not supported for curved text, while projecting annotation on the fly, carriage returns appear as squares and the text is not stacked.

In ArcGIS versions 8.3 and later, densification is an option. Also, by default, annotation is no longer densified when projecting on the fly, meaning that stacked annotation will appear correct when projected on the fly. If you are seeing this problem, change an ArcMap Advanced Setting to turn off densification when the annotation is projected on the fly.

Solution or Workaround

ArcGIS version 8.3 or later:
Refer to the ESRI technical article "How to make annotation either curve or not curve when projecting on the fly" in Related Information, below.

ArcGIS version 8.2 or earlier:
If possible, work in a data frame that has the same coordinate system as the annotation feature class. If this is not possible, follow these steps to fix this problem by manually editing each stacked annotation feature:

  1. Open the Editor toolbar and click Editor > Start Editing.
  2. Select the at fault annotation element with the Select Elements tool. Then activate the Edit Vertices tool on the Draw Toolbar.
  3. The underlying cause of this problem is related to the geometry of text elements. The geometry of a text element is a line. With normal straight text this line has only two vertices. However, when projected, extra vertices are added to the baseline geometry, and these extra vertices cause stacking to not work.
    [O-Image] Bad Stacked Annotation
  4. With the Edit Vertices tool still active, hover over one of the vertices, right-click, and select Delete Vertex from the popup menu.
  5. Continue deleting vertices from the text baseline until there are only two left; the text stacking will take effect. Refresh the map , if necessary, to see the text update properly.
    [O-Image] Well Stacked Annotation
    Do not move any vertices or new vertices will be inserted.

  6. Save your edits.
  7. Repeat with other at fault annotations.
  8. Stop editing.

Related Information