Text Labeling Area Features

Shape objects accept labels in much the same way as point features. Simple shapes and shapes from imported shapefiles support labeling.

To Add Labels to Shapes:

  1. Choose the Select [s] tool and select a shape.
  2. Do one of the following:
  • Right click the shape and choose ‘New Label’ from the contextual menu. A label is placed at the visual center of the shape.
  • Choose Edit > Labels & Text > New Label from the main menu.

3. The label content will use attribute information if an intelligent label tag has been defined. Alternatively, double-click the label to type free-text.

HINT: Labels support multi-line text. Press Option-Return or Shift-Return on the keyboard to manually insert a line break.

HINT: Special shapes, such as regular polygons and rounded-rectangles, and area features created from paths, such as irregular polygon, must be converted to shapes before they will accept a label. Choose Graphic > Convert To > Shape from the main menu, or right-click the object and choose ‘Convert To Shape’ from the object’s contextual menu.

To Use Just-Right Positioning of Area Feature Labels:


By default, labels are placed in the visual center of area features. The visual center provides for best placement when an area is irregular shaped. For example, the geometric center for Scotland is in water, the visually center places the label more where you would expect it.

  • Using the Select [s] tool, drag a label around the feature to move it. Labels subtly shift into ten standard click positions similar to labels on point features – eight positions around the shape, the geometric center point, and the visual center (which may be very close or the same as the geometric center).
  • Rotate a label by dragging its rotation handle. Hold the Shift-key while rotating to snap the angle to 15-degree increments.
  • To have full placement control while moving a label, hold the Shift-key and drag the label into the desired position. Like labeling other object types, it is easy to style a label then copy and paste it onto other objects. When a label is copied and pasted to other objects, its positioning, content, and text style properties are maintained.

HINT: Depending on a map’s scale, areas can represent point-like objects such as cities or islands. Move the label into an outside position in these cases.

To Spread (Tracking) Labels Across Area Features:


Text can be spread out across and area (called “tracking”).

  1. Choose the Select [s] tool and select the label text for editing.
  2. Do one of the following:
  • Hold the Option-Control keys and repeatedly press the right-Arrow (end) key to widen (loosen) the spread, or the left-Arrow key to tighten the spread.
  • Choose Text > Kern > Loosen (or Tighten) from the main menu.

3. Repeat as necessary to get the desired spread.

HINT: Text > Kern > Loosen (or Tighten) is also used to add or delete space (or “kerning”) between two or more selected glyphs.

To Place Curved Text Across Area Features


To create curved text for objects that span large areas, use the Text On Path [e] tool. Alternatively, you can convert a label to text on path with the following steps.

  1. Place a label on a shape.
  2. Do one of the following:
  • Right-click the label and choose ‘Detach From Feature’ from the contextual menu. Note, the label will be completely detached from the feature and its attributes.
  • Select the label(s) and choose Edit > Labels & Text > Detach From Feature in the main menu.

3. Select and convert the text to ‘text on a path’ by right-clicking and choosing ‘Convert to > Text On Path’ or choose Graphic > Convert To > Text On Path from the main menu.
4. Move the text path end points and curve handles into proper position.
5. Text alignment should be “justified” to spread text across the path. As necessary, do one of the following:

  • Double-click the text for editing and click the ‘Justified’ text alignment icon in the format bar.
  • Choose Text > Justify from the main menu.
  • Open the Object Inspector’s Features pane and click the ‘Justified’ text alignment icon.

To Make Label Text Bigger, Smaller, Bold, Italic, Underline:

  1. Place a label on a shape.
  2. Select the text label.
  3. Do one of the following:
  • Open the Fonts palette and modify the text properties
  • Choose various Text > properties in the main menu.
  • Use shortcut keys to quickly modify label text properties. For example, Command- – and Command- = quickly make label text smaller or bigger.
  • Double-click the text for editing and choose text properties form the format bar.