Set default layer symbology in ArcMap

Last Published: April 25, 2020


When data is added to ArcMap, features are symbolized with a default symbol. Instructions provided describe two methods for changing the default symbol in ArcMap.


  • Create a style with the same name as the feature layer. For example, the layer lake.shp automatically uses a fill style named Lake to symbolize the layer's features. The style must belong to a referenced style sheet.

    For more information on organizing style contents, see the link in the Related Information section below.

  • Set the default line width and marker size in Advanced ArcMap Utilities.

    Administrative privileges are needed to make modifications with the Advanced ArcMap Settings dialog box.

    1. Start Windows Explorer.
    2. Navigate to C:\Program Files\ArcGIS\Utilities\AdvancedArcMapSettings.exe or at version 10 and above, C:\Program Files\ArcGIS\Desktop10.0\Utilities\AdvancedArcMapSettings.exe
    3. Switch to the Symbols/Graphics tab.
    4. Set the desired Default Marker Size or Default Line Width.

    For 8.x versions, the Advanced ArcMap Settings tool is available in the ArcObjects Developer Kit. If the ArcObjects Developer Kit is not installed, see the link in Related Information section below for more information on installing the Advanced ArcMap Settings tool.

Article ID:000004627

  • ArcMap

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