How To: Use the ESRI label engine to offset overlapping point feature symbols


Instructions provided describe how to use the ESRI label engine to offset overlapping point feature symbols. It is not possible to use a standard version of ArcMap to offset overlapping point symbology. Use the ESRI label engine to achieve the same effect.


Point features are drawn with marker symbols. To use the label engine to offset these symbols if they overlap, it is necessary to place them as part of the labeling process, not as part of the feature drawing process.

  1. Double-click the layer in the ArcMap Table of Contents to open the 'Layer Properties' dialog. Click the 'Symbology' tab.
  2. Click the 'Symbol' button and click 'Properties'. Verify the symbol has no color and no outline. Click 'OK' twice.
  3. Select the 'Labels' tab.
  4. Check the 'Draw Labels' checkbox.
  5. Click the 'Symbol' button to change the label text symbol.
  6. Click 'Properties' to change the properties of the text symbol.
  7. Pick 'No Color' for the text symbol color.
  8. Select the 'Advanced Text' tab.
  9. Click 'Text Background' and then click 'Properties'.
  10. For the text background 'Type' select 'Marker Text Background' from the pulldown menu at the top of the dialog.
  11. In the 'Symbol Selector' dialog, select the marker symbol that would have been used for the feature symbology.
  12. Click 'OK' several times to return to the 'Layer Properties' dialog. Click 'OK' in the 'Layer Properties' dialog to apply the changes and close the dialog.