Use the Homeland Security Working Group fonts in ArcMap

Last Published: April 25, 2020


Instructions provided describe how to use the Homeland Security Working Group fonts in ArcMap. The Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) Homeland Security Working Group (HSWG) has undertaken a nationwide effort to standardize symbology for Emergency Management. To date, the group has gone through several drafts of the symbology and is working towards submitting this standard to American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The symbols provide a common approach to geospatial information products to support the National Incident Management System (NIMS). The symbology is broken down into four groups: incident, natural events, operations and infrastructure.

The following steps describe how to symbolize a regular point layer. To use these fonts with the Homeland Security data model, first see the Related Information section at the end of this article.


Follow the steps below.

  1. Download the fonts from the HSWG website. A link to the Web site is provided in the Related Information section at the end of this article. Click on the 'Download Symbols' tab.

    An email address is required in order to download the fonts.

  2. Extract the ZIP file to a local folder.
  3. Register the fonts:
    A. Open the Windows Control Panel and double-click Fonts.
    B. Click File > Install New Font.
    C. Navigate to the location where the downloaded file was unzipped.
    D. Select all TrueType (TTF) fonts and click OK.
  4. Open ArcMap and add the point layer to symbolize.
  5. Click on the point symbol in the TOC. The Symbol Selector dialog appears.
  6. Click the 'Properties...' button. The Symbol Property Editor dialog box appears.
  7. Select 'Character Marker Symbol' from the Type dropdown box.
  8. Select one of the downloaded fonts from the Font dropdown box. The following steps use the 'ERS v2 Incidents' font as an example.

    For an overview of the symbols included in each font, see the reference sheets available from the Homeland Security Working Group website.

  9. Select the solid black diamond from the top row of available characters. This is used as the background layer for the symbol.
  10. Set the size and color of the background character as desired. For example, set the Size to 36 and the Color to white.
  11. Click the + (plus) button to add a new layer to the symbol. The button is near the lower-left corner of the Symbol Property Editor dialog box.
  12. Repeat the previous steps to re-select the desired font, then select the character to use as the symbol's foreground.

    Increasing the Size makes it easier to view each character in the Preview pane.

  13. Adjust the size of the foreground character to match the background character. For example, set the Size to 36.
  14. Click OK to close the Symbol Property Editor.
  15. Click the 'Save...' button on the Symbol Selector. Enter a name for the new symbol. Enter 'HLS' for the Category, then click OK.

    Saving the symbol in a category of HLS will make it easier to find the symbol in future.

  16. Click OK to close the Symbol Selector. The points are displayed with the new symbol.

Article ID:000007899

  • ArcMap 8 x
  • ArcMap 9 x

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