How To: Stack labels within an ArcMap legend


This article describes how to stack labels within a legend without having to convert the legend to graphics.


When a shapefile/feature class has a long name, there is no setting within the Legend Wizard to stack the text. Use the following procedure to stack the label.

  1. Click on the shapefile's name in the ArcMap Table of Contents. It highlights in blue. Click the highlighted name again so that it becomes editable.
    [O-image] Layer name selected
  2. Right-click on the text and select 'Copy'.
  3. Click in a white area of the Table of Contents and then right-click on the layer and select Layer Properties.
  4. Select the Symbology tab.
    · If the symbology is a single symbol, click on the Description button to open the Description dialog box. Paste the shapefile name within the description dialog box. Press the 'CTRL' and 'Enter' keys to place breaks within the text. When finished, click OK.

    · If the symbology is Unique Values or Graduated Symbols, modify each symbol. Right-click on each value, select 'Edit Description' and the follow above steps.
  5. Close the Layer Properties.
  6. Change the map to layout view by navigating to View > Layout View.
  7. Navigate to Insert > Legend. Set up the Legend as desired using the Legend Wizard, and then click Finish.
  8. After the Legend is created, right-click on the Legend and select Properties.
  9. On the Items tab, select the appropriate layer under the Legend Items and choose Styles. Select the second legend style, which is 'horizontal single symbol description only'.