Convert Chinese annotation in a coverage to shapefile attributes

Last Published: April 25, 2020


This article describes the procedure to convert Chinese text from an ArcInfo coverage to geodatabase annotation and to a shapefile attribute.


  1. If the language on the computer is not Chinese, set the computer language to the appropriate Chinese character set. For example, Chinese (Traditional Hong Kong). This requires that the computer be rebooted.
  2. Start ArcInfo Workstation and navigate to the workspace on the local hard drive where the coverage is stored.
    You can check for the codepage by typing &show &codepage at the Arc: prompt. For this version of Chinese, the codepage is BIG5.
  3. BUILD the annotation feature class in the original coverage to create topology. You cannot run the BUILD command on an unnamed subclass, so if the annotation does not have a subclass name you must run the COPYFEATURES command, copying the unnamed annotation feature class into a new annotation subclass with a name, in the same coverage.

    If there are no real features (points, lines or polygons) in the coverage you must create some, even four points at the corners of the data, so that the annotation size will be interpreted correctly in the conversion process.

    The process is also much easier if the coverage has its projection properly defined.
  4. Open ArcMap with a new empty map, and add some point, polyline or polygon features to ArcMap along with the Chinese annotation.
  5. Go to Customize > ArcMap Options. On the Tables tab, change the font to either a suitable Chinese font, or Arial Unicode MS, or Tahoma. Both of the latter fonts are Unicode and can also display Chinese characters correctly.
  6. Open ArcCatalog on the side of the ArcMap window, select a folder, and create a new file geodatabase. Within the file geodatabase, create a new feature dataset, and define the projection. Import the points, lines or polygons from the annotation coverage into the feature dataset. Only a few features are needed, but these must be "real" features in the feature dataset, so that the software will interpret how large the annotation is supposed to be.
  7. In ArcMap zoom in until the smallest annotation is a suitable size for viewing or printing, and make a note of the map scale in ArcMap. Round the map scale up or down until the smallest annotation is legible. That will become your Reference Scale for the annotation feature class in the geodatabase.
  8. Go back to ArcCatalog, right click the feature dataset, and select New > Feature Class. Create a new annotation feature class, assign the Reference Scale identified in Step 7, click Next to the last window where attributes are listed and click Import. Import the attributes from the coverage annotation, then close the ArcCatalog window.
  9. In ArcMap go to Customize > Customize Mode. On the Commands tab, in the Categories drop-down, select Label. In the right-hand column, select Convert Coverage Annotation and drag and drop that tool onto a toolbar in ArcMap.
  10. Open the Convert Coverage Annotation tool and navigate to the annotation feature class you created in the geodatabase. Click Convert on the tool. When prompted, add the new geodatabase annotation to ArcMap. If you switch back and forth between the coverage annotation and the new annotation in the geodatabase, you will see that they are identical.
  11. Open ArcCatalog, open the geodatabase and the feature dataset containing the annotation, then right click on the annotation feature class that contains the Chinese annotation. Select Export > To Shapefile (single). The output is a polygon shapefile, and the Chinese text strings are stored in the field named "TextString". The polygons can then be labeled with the text string.

Article ID:000012783

  • ArcMap

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