New Legend

The New Legend dialog automatically creates a legend in a layout, creating multiple frames for the legend and grouping them conveniently in folders.  The dialog appears when in a layout we choose Create Legend from the Cursor / command mode button in the main toolbar.


Automatically create a legend for a frame:


  1. Open the layout.

  2. In the main toolbar, choose Create Legend in the Cursor / Command mode toolbar button's pull down menu.

  3. In the New Legend dialog, specify a Caption for the legend, if something other than the default Legend is desired.    If no caption is specified, the caption frame for the legend will not be created.

  4. Uncheck or check Base frame or Ignore unused geometry types option boxes as desired.

  5. In the pull down box listing frames, choose the frame for which the legend should be built.

  6. The lower pane in the New Legend dialog shows all the layers in the component for that frame.  Uncheck those that will not participate in the legend.

  7. Press Create Legend.  

  8. The legend will appear within the chosen frame, aligned to the frame's margins.


For other ways of creating frames that can be used in legends, see the Layouts: Create Commands topic.




Text to use for the legend's caption, in white text on black background in the top frame.

Base frame

Create a text frame with no text, using white background and a medium gray border at the very bottom of the stack of frames that constitute the legend.  This provides a white background for the otherwise transparent frames and a surrounding border.

Ignore unused geometry types

Do not create empty legend entries for object types that do not occur in a layer.  For example, if a layer uses only line objects then no sample frames for areas or points for that layer will be created in the legend.

(choose frame)

Frames are named based on the component from which they are created.  Choose a frame for which the legend will be created.  For example, if we choose a frame that shows a map, the legend will be created using the layers in that map.

    Move up

Move all selected layers up in the list.  Enabled if any layers are selected.

 Move down

Move all selected layers down in the list.  Enabled if any layers are selected.

 Move to Top

Move all selected layers to the top of the list, retaining their relative orders at the top of the stack.  Enabled if any layers are selected.

 Move to Bottom

Move all selected layers to the bottom of the list, retaining their relative orders at the bottom of the stack.  Enabled if any layers are selected.

(layers list)

A list of all layers in the component for which the legend will be created.   Layers are listed in their Z display order in the component.  By default, legend frames for those layers will be created in the legend in the same order.   We can move layers up and down in the list to create legend frames in different order.

Click  the on/off box to include or not include the layer in the legend.  Any changes to a selected layer's box will apply to all selected layers.  Filled box = Include the layer in the legend.  Empty box = Do not include the layer in the legend.


Many people will turn off any image server layers, since automatically creating a legend frame for them is not useful in most cases.


Toggles the current layer on/off.   Same as clicking the on/off box.


Click a layers in the layers list to make it the context item in the list.  That enables using the spacebar to turn the layer on/off.


Ctrl-click onto a layer to select or to de-select that layer.


Ctrl-clicking a folder will select or de-select all sub-folders and layers within that folder.

Create Legend

Create the legend.


Close the dialog without creating a legend.


See the Legends topic for examples using the New Legend dialog.

Legend Frames

Legends are composed of text frames and sample frames.    The New Legend dialog uses a text frame with no text as a base frame.   The top frame in a legend by default is a text frame with the caption text in white letters with a black background.   If no caption text is specified, the caption frame is not created.     The rest of the legend contains frames grouped into sub-folders, with a folder for every layer in the component that participates in the legend.  If a map has a labels layer, a drawing layer and a raster image layer, the legend will have three sub-folders, one for the labels layer, one for the drawing layer and one for the raster image layer.   


Each such folder will have a text frame with the name of the layer followed by sample frames as appropriate.  For example, a labels layer will have a text frame with the name of the labels layer followed by a text sample frame giving an example of the labels.   A drawing layer will have text frames for points, lines, and areas, each followed by sample frames.  If objects in drawings are thematically formatted, there will be multiple sample frames for the objects to show the different thematic intervals.


We will add the map below to a layout and then create a legend for the map.



The map consists of four layers: buildings, roads, railways and a Bing satellite image server layer.   The buildings layer has only area objects, with fill color thematically formatted based on the mfd_id field.  The railways layer contains only lines, using a Style that colors all lines as thick white and black dashes.  



The roads layer is thematically formatted for unique values using the fclass field, as seen above.    


We drag and drop the map into a new layout, and then in the Cursor / command mode button in the main toolbar we choose Create Legend.



In the New Legend dialog we enter Monaco as the caption and we uncheck the Bing layer.  Press Create Legend.



In the illustration above we have moved the legend to the left of the map frame.  The default legend, describing frames from top to the bottom, starts with the Monaco caption frame, a text frame using white font on a black background.  All of the other frames have transparent background and borders, except for the base frame behind them all, which is a text frame with no text, white background, and a 0.5 point thick dark gray border.  


The next frame is a text frame with buildings as the text, the name of the layer, followed by a text frame with mfd_id, the name of the field used for thematic formatting.  Following are eight area sample frames for each of the eight thematic intervals used in the buildings layer, with each area frame showing the color used for that interval and the value of the interval.


Next appear text frames giving the name of the roads layer and the field, fclass, used for thematically formatting lines in that layer.  Following are thirteen line sample frames, each of which shows the style used for that interval and the unique value of fclass for the interval.       Last comes a text frame for the railways layer and then a single line sample frame to show the style used for lines in that layer.


The illustration at right shows how the layout looks in the Layers pane.   We have undocked the Layers pane and increased the vertical size to show all layers in the layout at once.  


A small Ab icon indicates a row in the Layers pane is a text frame.


A small icon with a line in a box indicates a row in the Layers pane is a sample frame.


Folders within layers pane conveniently group the various frames within the legend.  We can collapse or expand them as desired to make it easier to navigate and to manage the many frames used in a legend.


The lowest text frame, with no name since it was created with no text, is the base frame.  Other frames are named based on their text contents. Folders are named based on their layers and the top folder is named based on the name of the caption for the legend.



Style overrides excluded - Legends created using Create Legends will capture formatting in the Style pane, but will not capture style overrides used to style objects individually if such have been applied.


See Also





Info Pane


Layers Pane






Layouts: Create Commands


Layouts: Alignment Commands




Style: Thematic Formatting


File - Page Setup


File - Print


File - Print Preview


Example: Layout Properties - Editing properties which appear in the mfd_meta table for a layout changes the content of that layout.   We can exploit that effect to create standardized layouts which are then re-cycled for different content.