Text Labeling Linear Features

Ortelius’ connectable tracks are labeled with the help of the Linear Select tool. The label is placed in either the default style and positioned above the track, or its style and position will be based on the Label Adornment style that has been applied. Once placed, the label is fully editable. Labels follow the path of their associated linear features. If the path is moved, the label moves with it.

To Add Labels to Tracks:

  1. Choose the Linear Select [n] tool to highlight the connectable track where your label will be placed.
  2. Do one of the following:
  • Choose Edit > Labels & Text > New Label from the main menu.
  • Right-click the selected area and choose ‘New Label’ from the contextual menu. A highlighted label “bubble” shows where the label has been placed.
  • Double-click the label bubble to edit the label text as desired.

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

HINT: Linear Select and associated labels apply only to connectable tracks. To convert a path to a connectable track, select the path(s) and choose Graphic > Convert To > Connectable Track from the main menu. Line shapefiles features are imported as paths. If labels are desired, converting paths to tracks is a necessary step after importing. Some features, such as roads, it may be desirable to join multiple line segments.

About ‘Just-Right Positioning’ of Linear Feature Labels:


Linear feature labels have handles for just-right positioning similar to the concept of handles with Bezier curves.

  • To control placement, the left handle (yellow diamond) slides the label along the track.
  • The right handle (orange diamond) controls the spread, or overall width, of the label along the line.
  • The handle on top (blue diamond) controls the vertical alignment of the label with respect to the line, moving the label up or down for perfect positioning.

To Flip a Label:

  1. Choose the Select [s] tool.
  2. Do one of the following:
  • Select the label and choose Edit > Labels & Text > Flip Label from the main menu.
  • Right-click on the label and choose ‘Flip Label’ to change the orientation of the label relative to the line.

To Smooth a Label on a Complex Track:


As with other curved text, it is good practice to keep linear text labels as simple as possible. Usually this means selecting a relatively straight section of the line to place your label.

Do one of the following:

  • To place smoothly curved labels on lines with complex, sinuous routes, right-click the label and choose ‘Follow Trend Of Path’ to enable basic label simplification.
  • Right-click the label and choose ‘Detach From Feature’. The result is a Text On Path object. Adjust its curve handles as desired.

To Copy a Label to Multiple Tracks:

  1. Add a label to a track.
  2. Position and edit style and content as desired.
  3. Do one of the following:

Right-click the label and choose ‘Copy Label’ from the contextual menu.
Choose Edit > Labels & Text > Copy Label from the main menu.

4. Select other tracks.
5. Choose Edit > Labels & Text > Paste Label from the main menu. The label, including its content, style, and positioning, will be copied to the other features.

HINT: Multiple labels can be placed along a line. Each one can have its own style and placement, as appropriate to your map.