Problem: Multi-Layer Line symbology does not display as expected when zooming


When designing or working with a symbol that has multiple layers, the symbol layers may overlap improperly at certain zoom levels. For example the layers may not show as intersecting at a consistent placement on each symbol, causing a broken appearance. In the example below, the designed symbols line up properly at 100% and then are appearing as broken when zooming to 50%.

Symbols layers line up as expected at 100%
Symbol layers line up as expected at 100%

Symbol layers do not line up as expected at 50%
Symbol layers do not line up as expected at 50%


When designing this type of multi-layer symbology, a Template and Interval are defined. Depending on the combination of the template and interval settings, parts of the symbology may disappear at certain zoom levels. Using the Template to set the width of the symbol instead of using the Interval setting to control the width can cause the unexpected display at various zoom levels.

Solution or Workaround

Inside the Symbol Property Editor box, a Template tab activates when editing certain Types of symbols such as the Cartographic Line Symbol, Hash Line Symbol, etc. Within the Template tab, the template ruler should be altered to set up a unique pattern or the design of the symbol. The Interval setting should be used to alter to the width of each square you see in the template. Therefore to increase the size or width of a symbol, the Interval setting should be used rather than adding additional "squares" to the design. In the screen shots below, the symbol design seen above has been altered to use the Template and Interval settings as designed.

User-added image

User-added image

In this example, a cross symbol is created using a basic on-off-on pattern. If there is more than one layer that should intersect in the middle, such as a cartographic line and a hash line symbol, then both layers should have the same center point in the template pattern for the on-off-on design to display as expected. Then the size or width of the symbols can be altered by using the Interval setting. For designing more complex patterns, the endpoint of the pattern can be set to the end of the ruler, and then squares added in between the start and the end. The rule of thumb is to use the Template to set the pattern and the Interval to set the width.

Related Information

Creating Line Symbols
Customizing multi-layer symbols