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Characters along curved paths in maps or Geodatabase annotation created in ArcGIS 8.0.2 are shifted, in comparison to how they look in 8.0.2, when viewed in ArcMap 8.1.2 or later.
The curved, or splined, text algorithm was improved between ArcGIS 8.0.2 and ArcGIS 8.1.2. In general, the new algorithm does a much better job with text placement along curved text paths. For example, it prevents characters from overlapping at more acute bends. However, one drawback is that there can be a distinct difference for text created in 8.0.2 but viewed in later versions of ArcMap.
Both Geodatabase annotation and ArcMap graphic text are affected. The difference is particularly evident on very curvy text paths.
The work-around for this issue is to either manually replace annotation/graphic text or re-create it from labels using Convert Labels to Annotation.