ArcGIS Layout

This tutorial provides tips for creating a pleasing layout for your mapping project.

image of layout ribbon

ArcGIS Pro Layout

This tutorial builds on the ArcGIS Visualization tuorial such that you are expected to have a map created using ArcGIS Pro. The following steps describe some basic pointers for creating a pleasing layout with cartographic elements such as legend, north arrow, scale bar, source statement and title.

Setup Instructions

This tutorial assumes the user has completed the ArcGIS Visualization tutorial.

This map package includes the final result of the ArcGIS Visualization tutorial. Download the map package and double-click to run ArcGIS Pro.

Creating a Layout

  1. Click the Insert tab and select New Layout image of new layout button

  2. Select ANSI - Landscape 8.5” x 11”

The white box that appears is essentially the representation of a piece of letter size paper. It is a good practise to add guides so that there is a clean border around the outside of the map and all of its elements.

  1. To be sure the rulers are showing, click the Layout ribbon at the top of the window and check the boxes for Rulers and Guides. image of show guides and rulers

  2. Above the white box you will see the ruler, right-click on the ruler and select Add Guides… Make sure to select GUIDES (plural) or you will end up with a single guide where you don’t want it.

  3. From the dialogue box, make the following selections:
    • Orientation: BOTH
    • Placement: Offset from edge
    • Position: 0.5 in

    image showing add guides window

  4. Click OK to add the guides. When you add any element to the layout, DO NOT ALLOW ANY PART TO CROSS OVER THE GUIDES.

The Insert tab at the top is where you will find a variety of elements to add to the layout.

  1. From the Insert tab at the top, select Map Frame image of insert > map frame. Choose the map frame to add. In this case, image of map frame to insert.

  2. Draw a box on the layout page to represent the map element. The box is populated with the map frame and should look something like this:


  1. Use the handles (little white boxes on the edge and corners of the map frame) to resize and click/drag to re-position the map element. Notice the space above and below for text such as title and source statements. There is also room to the right of the map for a legend, north arrow and scale bar.

  2. With the Insert ribbon active, explore the options from the Map Surrounds group. We will add a few of these elements next.


  1. Click the North Arrow option and select a style of your choosing then click anywhere on the layout to add the north arrow. With the north arrow element selected, click/drag to position it on the layout.

  2. Likewise, click the scalebar options and choose a metric scalebar then click on the layout to place the element. Double click the scalebar to see more options.
    image of scalebar settings

    image showing north arrow and scalebar added

The Legend

  1. From the Insert ribbon, click the legend option and select “Legend 1” then draw a box on the layout.

  2. If you see 3 red dots inside square brackets, this means there is more content to be seen. Widen the legend box until the red dots disappear.

  3. Double-click the legend element to see options.

    image of legend element options

  4. From Legend Items click Show Properties image legend items show properties

From Feature Display Options check the boxes for Only show features visible in the map extent and Show feature counts.

Experiment with other options and shift layout elements as desired. Here is what your map could look like:

image of sample map

Graphics and Text

The Insert ribbon includes a section for Graphics and Text. image of graphics and text

Click image to enter straight text then click on the white space above the legend.

Double-click the text to edit using the element options dialogue box.
image of element options for text element

Add another text element at the bottom of the layout to describe sources and author.
image of layout so far

Extra tips and tricks

Because we are using an Esri basemap, there is a dynamic text element displayed at the lower right corner of the map frame. This trick will remove the dynamic text and you can see from the image above that I have included the Esri reference in my straight text element.

  1. From the Graphics and Text group, click Dynamic Text and scroll down in the options until you see Layout > Service layer credits. image service layer credits

  2. Click on the white space below the map frame.
  3. From the Element pane (you may need to double-click the dynamic text element to activate the element pane) > expand the General settings and uncheck Visible image


Printing and Sharing

All printing and sharing options can be found under the Share ribbon at the top of the interface.

Click Export Layout to see the various options. Notice the File Type options include common image formats such as JPEG, TIFF and PDF.

Be sure to uncheck Clip to graphics extent.

Click Export and the resulting image will be available via a link at the bottom of the Export Layout pane OR in the defined storage location.

image of completed map

Congratulations! You’ve created a map layout using ArcGIS technologies.

This tutorial is supported by the Brock University Research Lifecycle Department, Map, Data & GIS Library. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this tutorial, don’t hesitate to contact