North Arrows

Add a North arrow to a map window by clicking on the North arrow virtual layer in the Layers pane.   


This topic discusses the use of a North arrow virtual layer in a map. For info on adding North arrow frames to Layouts, see the Layouts: North Arrows topic.


The Layers pane shows three virtual layers at the top of the layers pane display stack for map, drawing, image, and labels windows. Virtual layers are off by default.  



Click on the corresponding virtual layer's on/off box to turn on a North arrow, a scale bar, a legend, or a grid as part of the display in the window.



Clicking the North Arrow layer on adds a default North arrow to the active window.  The bearing of the North arrow by default is automatically set based on the direction to North at the position of the North arrow in the projection (coordinate system) used by the map.


Configure a North arrow in a map by double-clicking the North Arrow virtual layer in the Layers pane.  That opens the North Arrow  dialog. 



The North Arrow dialog allows setting the following parameters:


(Preview pane)

Shows a preview of the current settings used in the dialog.  The background color is light blue by default, to allow either very light or dark shapes to be visible.   Change the background color of the preview pane by clicking the square box in the upper right corner of the preview pane.

(Shapes gallery)

Choose a North arrow shape from a gallery of popular shapes. Hovering the mouse over a shape will show the name of that shape in a tooltip.

Foreground and stroke color for shapes and text.

Fill color and the color for halos.  Some north arrow shapes may use colors that are mixes of foreground and background colors.

Buttons that show a small "box" sub-icon indicate that color has been changed from the default.


Stroke width for the shape


Check to show text captions near north arrow shapes for NESW directions.  Some shapes can show captions in all four directions, some only two directions or one direction.

Font for text. Fully configurable for typeface, effects, bold, etc.

Font size for text.


Four boxes for text to use for each of the four directions.  Enabled when the Text box is checked.  Empty strings by default.


Horizontal and vertical position of the North arrow shape relative to the map.


Horizontal and vertical margins between the North arrow shape and the map's edges.


Size of North arrow shape.


Width of background color halo for shape and text.  Default: 1pt.   Setting Halo to 0 turns off the halo.


The direction of the North arrow, if the Auto box is not checked.


When checked (the default), compute the North arrow's bearing automatically.  Bearings are first computed using the center of the north arrow shape, and then, if that fails because the north arrow is outside of the coordinate system domain, based on the center of the map.


Press to apply the current dialog settings to the map.


We configure a default North arrow by setting desired parameters.



Double-clicking the North Arrow virtual layer in the Layers pane to open the North Arrow  dialog. 



Specify options as shown above. The foreground color is white and the background color is black, so the N text caption will appear in white with a very thin black halo outline.  The font has been changed to Segoe UI bold, 12 point.  We can try various settings and then press the Apply button to see what happens.   When we are happy with the desired effect, we press the OK button.



The North arrow now appears using the arrow shape specified, along with an N text caption at the tip of the arrow.  


If we like, we can move the N text caption to the base of the arrow.


Double-click the North Arrow layer again to launch the North Arrow dialog.



Delete the N text from the N box in the NESW row and enter an N character into the S box position.  Press OK.



The result is that an N text caption appears at the base of the arrow.  For North arrow shapes that have a point in that position we would normally use an S or South text caption in the S box, but with this shape placing an N at the base also works.

See also

Layers Pane


Scale Bars