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How To: Determine if an ArcMap layer is being drawn with symbol level drawing, and to access its settings

Summary

Instructions provided describe how to determine if an ArcMap layer is being drawn with symbol level drawing, and to access its settings. In ArcGIS 9.0 and later versions, ArcMap layers can be drawn according to drawing rules that override the basic draw ordering in the Table of Contents. Enable this special drawing by by way of Symbol Level Drawing for a given feature layer or group layer.

Use the steps listed below to determine whether a given feature layer is being drawn using Symbol Level Drawing, and also how to access the settings for a particular layer.

Procedure

Symbol Level Drawing is set on feature layers by themselves or on group layers. If Symbol Level Drawing is set on a group layer, it effects all of the feature layers within that group layer, including any lower level group layers within that group layer.

If a map contains group layers within group layers, it is important to find the group layer in the group layer hierarchy that has Symbol Level Drawing options set.

Follow the steps below to determine whether Symbol Level Drawing is on and to access settings for a given layer.

FEATURE LAYER
A feature layer that is not in a group layer.

1. Right-click on a feature layer in the Table of Contents and verify 'Use Symbol Levels' is checked.
[O-Image] Use Symbols Levels
2. Make modifications by accessing 'Symbol Level' settings from the layer's properties dialog.

1. In the Table of Contents, right-click on the feature layer and select Properties. Otherwise double-click on the feature layer, or press the enter key with the feature layer selected.
2. Select the Symbology tab.
3. Click the Advanced button and select Symbol Levels. This opens the Symbol Levels properties dialog for the current selected feature layer.

[O-Image] Open the Symbol Level properties of a feature layer

FEATURE OR GROUP LAYERS INSIDE A GROUP LAYER
If a feature layer is in a group layer and 'Use Symbol Levels' is grayed out, then the feature layer is effected by symbol level drawing settings in a higher group layer.
[O-Image] Symbol level grayed out in a feature layer properties

To determine which group layer has Symbol Levels set, open the 'Symbol Level' properties of the group layer from the group layer's properties dialog.

1. In the Table of Contents, right-click on the group layer and select Properties. Otherwise, double-click on the group layer or press the enter key with the group layer selected.
2. Select the Group tab.
3. Click the Symbol Levels button. This opens the Symbol Levels properties dialog for the current selected group layer.

[O-Image] Open the Symbol Level properties of a group layer

The Symbol Level Drawing dialog indicates which group layer has symbol level drawing settings applied.

In this example, the group layer named 'Polar group layer' is being effected by the higher level group layer named 'Water group layer'.

[O-Image] Lower level layer is effected by a higher layer

Once the root of the Symbol level settings have been located, or there is only one group layer in the hieracrchy, make modifications by opening the 'Symbol Level' properties of the group layer from the group layer's properties dialog.

1. In the Table of Contents, right-click on the group layer and select Properties. Otherwise, double-click on the group layer or press the enter key with the group layer selected.
2. Select the Group tab.
3. Click the Symbol Levels button. This opens the Symbol Levels properties dialog for the current selected group layer.

[O-Image] Open the Symbol Level properties of a group layer

'Use Symbol Levels' is now ticked when that group layer is clicked in the Table of Contents.
[O-image] Use Symbol Levels in a Group Layer