Picture symbol legend patches, inserted images, and objects fail to draw when exported to PDF, EPS, AI, and SVG

Last Published: July 9, 2024


When images or objects (such as JPEGs, BMP files, or Excel spreadsheets) are inserted in an ArcMap layout with a page size that is larger than the default printer's default page size, theyfail to draw or draw incorrectly when exported. Picture marker symbols, or areas with a picture fill, may also fail to render properly on export. Legend patches of web map service layers may become pixelated or fail to draw on export, as well.

At ArcGIS version 9.2 and later, picture marker symbols that are converted to vector with the 'Vectorize layers with bitmap markers/fills' option may also fail to render properly outside of the default printer's default page size.  
Additionally, certain cartographic representations that draw as an inserted EMF can also be affected by this issue.


If the inserted object, image, or legend patch falls outside the default page size of the Windows default printer, Windows GDI drawing calls used by ArcMap may not properly draw the object or image on output.


It is highly recommended to use ArcGIS Pro for printing and exporting, especially when experiencing issues caused by the limitations of the ArcMap display engine. More specifically, ArcGIS Pro is not restricted by the graphical device interface (GDI) limitations that some users experience in ArcMap. For example, transparency is natively supported in ArcGIS Pro, preventing the rasterization of layers. Additionally, ArcGIS Pro supports transparency in layout elements.

ArcGIS Pro does not support exporting directly to AI (Adobe Illustrator) files as it is a closed file format.  
It is recommended to export to the AIX format and use the ArcGIS Maps For Adobe Creative Cloud extension in Adobe Illustrator to open the exported AIX files.  
For more information on the subtle differences between ArcMap and ArcGIS Pro in drawing, please see the help topic: Visual differences in imported map documents

Alternatively, on some printers, selecting 'Use Printer Paper Settings' in the Page and Print Setup dialog box alleviates the problem. See the link in the Related Information section for more information on how to use the Use Printer Paper Settings option.

Another option is to set the Windows default printer's default page size to a page size as large as or larger than the page layout that is being exported. For example, if the map document is a tabloid size (17 x 22), set the default printer's default page size to 17 x 22 or larger before opening ArcMap.

  1. Open the Windows Devices and Printers dialog box by navigating to Start > Control Panel > Devices and Printers.
  2. Under Printers and Faxes, right-click the default printer; it has a check mark icon.
  3. Select Printing preferences.
  4. On the Paper/Quality tab, under Paper Options, select a paper size larger than the paper size of the desired layout. Click OK. The name and appearance of the Printer Properties dialog box may vary according to printer/driver and Windows version.
  5. Start ArcMap, open the map document, and export or print again.

Article ID:000008590

  • ArcMap
  • ArcGIS Engine

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