How To: Update a feature-linked annotation by updating the original label expression


In a feature-linked annotation, the annotation display on the map is updated by re-writing the existing expression or adding a new expression. Depending on the types of changes made, this may cause the annotation to shift.

Instructions provided describe how to annotate multiple fields, change spacing, or add additional text. Instructions do not describe how to update text size, color or font.


  1. Start ArcCatalog.
  2. Right-click the feature-linked annotation feature class to be modified. Click Properties > Annotation Classes tab.
    [O-Image] Feature Class Properties
  3. Click the Expression button next to the Label Field dropdown list. In the Label Expression window, update the label expression used to create the data and then click OK. In the Feature Class Properties window, click Apply and OK.
    In this example, the expression has been updated from displaying the  [STATE_ABBR] field to displaying the [STATE_ABBR] field over the [SUB_REGION] field.

    [O-Image] New Expression
    To update the feature-linked annotation expression, the feature class field that appears first in the feature-linked annotation expression needs to be updated in ArcMap.

  4. Start ArcMap.
  5. Import the feature-linked annotation feature class that was modified in Step 3 and its parent feature class.
  6. Start editing by clicking Editor > Start Editing on the Editor Toolbar.
  7. Right-click the parent feature class in the ArcMap Table of Contents, and click Open Attribute Table.
  8. Right-click the column header of the first field that appears in the new annotation expression, and click Field Calculator.
  9. Calculate the field to be equal to itself.

    View updated annotation.
    [O-Image] Recalculating annotation expression
  10. The annotation display is now updated on the map.