Automatically plot a corresponding label when creating new features

Last Published: April 25, 2020


If the user is creating new features and wants the new features to automatically correspond to a label class, this can be done with a subtype, an annotation feature class, and a relationship class.


  1. Create a new Short Integer field in the attribute table of the feature class; this becomes the Subtype field.
    To proceed, the data must be in a feature dataset within a geodatabase. The feature dataset must match the spatial reference of the feature classes. Refer to the following for more information on creating a feature dataset.

  2. Open the Properties of the feature class and go to the Subtypes tab. Use the Subtype Field dropdown menu and choose the field that was created in Step 1. Define the Subtypes in the Subtypes box.
    [O-Image] DefineSubtypes
  3. Ensure that the Maplex Label Engine is enabled in the map document.
    [O-Image] Maplex
    Open the Label Manager from the Labeling toolbar.
    [O-Image] LabelManager

  4. By default, the feature class has one Label Class called Default. If the subtypes were succesfully created, the Subtypes values appear under the 'Select symbology categories' section. Ensure all subtypes are checked and uncheck <all other values>.
    [O-Image] LabelBefore
  5. Click Add. If a warning message appears about overwriting the label classes, click Yes; this shows the feature class with the subtype values below it in the Label Classes section of the Label Manager.

  6. Define the label styles by going to each subtype label class and adjusting the formatting for things such as color, text size, placement, and so forth. More information about the Maplex Labeling engine can be found here: A quick tour of labeling with the Maplex Label Engine.
  7. To populate the existing subtypes in the geodatabase, start an edit session and plot a feature for each subtype. Or, start an edit session and assign one of each of the subtypes for existing features.
  8. Right-click the feature class in the Table of Contents and select 'Convert Labels to Annotation'. Accept the defaults in the Convert Labels to Annotation dialog.

    Users must have an ArcGIS for Desktop Standard or ArcGIS for Desktop Advanced license to convert to feature-linked annotation.

  9. In the above steps, a relationship class and an annotation feature class should have been created. Each time a feature is plotted, the associated subtype label is also plotted. Since it is annotation, the user can make necessary adjustments as needed.

Article ID:000011953

  • ArcMap

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