Label interstate highways with a shield marker containing the highway number in ArcMap

Last Published: July 21, 2023


Instructions provided describe how to label highways with the appropriate highway shield and have the shield contain the highway number.

The data used in this tutorial is the file ROADS.SHP, that can be downloaded from the link under Related Information.


  1. Download from the link below, and extract Roads.shp to a folder on the computer.
  2. Open ArcMap with a new, empty map and add Roads.shp to the map.
  3. Open the attribute table and view the attributes in ADMN_CLASS:
    • Interstate Highway
    • US Highway
    • State Highway
The RTE_NUM1 item contains the route number for each highway. Close the attribute table when finished viewing these items.
  1. Right-click the layer in the table of contents and click Properties. Click the Symbology tab.
  2. Click Categories and select the Unique Values option. Select ADMN_CLASS for the Value Field and click the Add All Values button.
  1. Set the symbol color for Interstate Highways to red. Symbolize US Highways as blue and State Highways as green. Click Apply.
  2. Click the Labels tab and check the box for Label features in this layer.
  3. In the Method drop-down list, select Define classes of features and label each class differently. Check the box Label features in this class.
  4. Use the Add button to make a new class called 'Interstate'.
  1. Click the SQL Query button, create the following query and click OK.
"ADMN_CLASS" = 'Interstate'
  1. On the Labels tab, select RTE_NUM1 from the Label Field drop-down list. This assigns the route number to the Highway Shield label for the road.
  2. Click the Label styles button. Select the 'U.S. Interstate HWY' symbol from the Esri style and click OK.
  1. Return to the Labels tab and repeat steps 9 through 12 for a new class called 'US Highways'. Use the following SQL expression. Use the U.S. Highways Route marker symbol for the label:
"ADMN_CLASS" = 'US Highway'
  1. Create a final class called 'State Highways' using the following SQL expression. Select the marker symbol from the Transportation style used for your state:
"ADMN_CLASS" = 'State Highway'
  1. Select the Label Class named Default and delete the class.
  2. Click Apply and OK to close the Layer Properties dialog box. The three styles of highway shield symbols with the correct route numbers draw on the map.
  3. To save the symbology for use in new map documents, right-click the layer name and select Save as layer file. Save the layer file to a convenient location. Add the file with symbology to future map documents.
The source data and LYR file must be maintained in the same directories after the LYR file is created in ArcMap.

Article ID:000004341

  • ArcMap 8 x
  • ArcMap 9 x
  • ArcMap 10 x

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