How To: Create a static color ramp in ArcMap to prevent colors from displaying randomly


Creating a static color ramp in ArcMap is beneficial when working with large sets of data symbolized with unique values. The color ramps used to display symbology in ArcMap are designed to be random; each unique value is matched to a random color in the color ramp selected by users. Therefore, the same order of colors is not displayed for each value every time the color ramp is modified.

This is a limitation for users when creating a duplicate layer to display the map legend. When setting the color ramp for the original and duplicate layers in the Symbology tab of the Layer Properties dialog box, the randomized colors in the color ramp result in the original layer and duplicate layer displaying different colors for the same unique value.

Randomized colors for the unique values

The instructions provided describe how to configure the colors to be static so that the colors are not randomized each time when applying color ramps for layer symbology.


  1. On the ArcMap main menu, go to Customize > Style Manager.
  2. In the Style Manager, expand the ESRI.style folder, and select Color Ramps (gray folder icon).
Folders stored in the Esri.style folder contain system styles that are read-only and cannot be modified, as indicated by the gray folder icon. 
  1. Right-click the desired color ramp, and click Copy.
Esri.style > Color Ramps > Copy
  1. Expand the user's style folder (yellow folder), and select Color Ramps.
  2. Paste the color ramp copied in Step 3 into the right pane of the Style Manager dialog, and rename it to ensure that it does not get mixed up with the default color ramp.
Paste the copied color ramp
  1. Right-click the color ramp, and select Properties.
Righ-click the color ramp, and select Properties
  1. In the Color Ramp dialog, check the Use the same colors every time color ramp is used option, click Apply > OK, and close the Style Manager.
The Color Ramp dialog box
To ensure that the static color ramp is used when applying symbology, in the Symbology tab of the Layer Properties dialog, right-click the color ramp, and uncheck the Graphic View option. Click the Color Ramp drop-down list, and select the correct color ramp.

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