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Add, symbolize, and label reference data

In the previous lesson, you added a layer of countries to contextualize your bombing missions. In this lesson, you'll add some more reference data, showing terrain and major cities. Terrain was a key component of the Vietnam War and will give your map a more realistic appearance, while major cities are important information for almost any political map. As before, you'll add the data from Living Atlas. Then, you'll symbolize the data appropriately, before adding labels to all of your reference layers.

Add a hillshade terrain layer

Your map looks nice, but it feels flat and two-dimensional. Furthermore, it's currently impossible to discern any relationships between the region's physical geography and the distribution of bombing missions. You'll rectify both problems by adding a hillshade layer. A hillshade layer renders mountains, hills, and other major terrain features with a realistic-looking 3D effect. While you can create hillshade layers with geoprocessing tools, Living Atlas already has a hillshade layer for the entire world―you only need to find and add it.

  1. If necessary, open your Vietnam War Bombing Missions project in ArcGIS Pro.
  2. In the Contents pane, check the box next to World Hillshade to turn it on.

    If the World Hillshade layer was not automatically added to your map when you created the project, you can add it. On the ribbon, in the Map tab, in the Layer group, click top half of the Add Data button. In the Add Data window, click Living Atlas. Search for World Hillshade and add the World Hillshade layer owned by esri.

    World Hillshade layer on map

    The hillshade takes the form of ridges and bumps across the map that simulate a 3D surface. The hillshade layer uses a grayscale color scheme by default, so there's no need to tweak any symbology for this layer.

Add and symbolize a layer of cities

Another important piece of reference data for your map is major cities. Cities are often important to include in any kind of political map (such as a map about a war). For your map in particular, you'll want to show whether major population centers and national capitals received most of the bombing. Once again, you'll use a Living Atlas layer. You only want to show large or politically important cities, so you'll filter the layer with a definition query to show only national capitals or cities with a population above 500,000. You'll then symbolize the cities based on three city types: capitals, major cities, and minor cities. With this type of symbology, the importance of each city will be clear from a glance.

  1. Using the same method you previously used to add Living Atlas data, search for and add the World Cities layer owned by esri_dm to the map.

    World Cities default symbology

    The layer contains hundreds of cities, symbolized as orange points sized according to population. Most of the cities in the layer are relatively small, and showing them all clutters the map.

  2. Open the Layer Properties window for the world_cities layer.
  3. In the Definition Query tab, create a query clause that reads POPULATION is Greater Than or Equal to 500000.

    Definition query for cities

    You'll also add a clause to include national capitals, even if they have populations less than 500,000. The cities layer contains information about a city's status: whether it's a national capital, a provincial capital, or not a capital at all.

  4. Add a new clause that reads Or STATUS is Equal to and then click the menu for the final part of the clause.

    Status field attribute variables

    The menu contains the list of acceptable city statuses. The list actually contains six types of national capitals: National and provincial capital, National capital, National capital and provincial capital enclave, Other, Provincial captial, and Provincial capital enclave. Instead of creating six new clauses, one for each status type, you'll change the is Equal to operator to an operator that allows you to choose variables that contain a specific text string―in this case, the word "National."


    There are often multiple ways to create a query you want. For instance, you can create an identical query clause to select all six types of national capitals using the Includes the value(s) operator. This operator allows you to choose multiple values from a checklist in a single query clause. You can use this operator (and the similar does Not Include the value(s) operator) to choose values more quickly in some situations.

  5. In the clause, change is Equal to to contains the text. In the final part of the clause, type National. Click Apply.

    Final definition query

  6. Click OK.

    The layer is filtered to contain only cities that fit either of the two clauses. Vietnam contains four cities, while Laos and Cambodia contain one city each.

    World Cities filtered

    Next, you'll symbolize the cities. For your map, you'll distinguish between national capitals, major cities (population greater than 1 million), and minor cities (population between 500,000 and 1 million) using a unique symbology style for each type. Symbolizing your cities with unique values will allow users to better gauge a city's political and human importance at a glance.

  7. In the Contents pane, click the world_cities layer to select it. On the ribbon, in the Appearance tab, in the Drawing group, click the bottom half of the Symbology button and choose Unique Values.

    Unique Values symbology type

    The Symbology pane opens for the world_cities layer. With the Unique Values symbology type, you can create different symbols based on the attributes of each feature. You'll symbolize the features based on the Status and Population Class attribute fields.

  8. In the Symbology pane, for Field 1, choose Status. Click Add Field and choose Pop. Class.

    Value fields for Unique Values symbology

    The list of symbols in the pane changes to include a unique symbol for each combination of status and population class―26 symbols in all. You'll group these 26 symbol types into three symbols, one for each city type you plan to symbolize.

  9. Hold the Shift key and click the first and last entry that begin with National to select them. (Alternatively, hold Ctrl and click all the rows that begin with National.) When they are all selected, right-click the selection and choose Group values.

    Group values

    The selected values are grouped into a single value. The default label for the new value combines all of the labels for the values you grouped. This label is long, so you'll change it to a shorter, more precise label.

  10. For the grouped value, double-click the cell in the Label column and change the label to National capitals.

    Label for national capitals group

    Next, you'll group cities based on their population. Due to the length of the value and label names, however, it might be difficult to see which of the remaining values contain which population class.

  11. Point to the left edge of the Symbology pane until your cursor changes into a two-sided arrow. Drag the pane to expand its size. Then, point to the right edge of the Label column and expand it until you can read the labels for the remaining symbols.

    Unique Values with entire labels

    You'll create two more groups: one for cities with populations between 500,000 and 1 million, and one for cities with populations over 1 million.

  12. Hold Ctrl and select any symbols for cities with more than 1 million population.

    Major cities selection

  13. Group the selected values and change the group's label to Major cities. Group the remaining values (with populations between 500,000 and 999,999) and change the group's label to Minor cities. Reduce the size of the Symbology pane back to normal.

    All groups

    You now have three groups: one for capitals, one for major cities, and one for minor cities. Next, you'll change the symbology for each symbol. Standard cartographic symbology for cities is circles sized relative to population, with national capitals symbolized with a star.

  14. In the Symbology pane, click the point symbol for the National capitals value. Click Properties and click the Layers tab. For Form, click the menu and choose the star symbol.

    Star shape form

  15. Change the following parameters for the symbol:
    • Color: Arctic White
    • Outline color: Gray 80%
    • Outline width: 1 pt
    • Size: 9 pt

    When choosing colors from the menus, you can point to the colors to see their names.

    Symbology for capital cities

  16. Click Apply.

    The symbology is added to the map. Next, you'll symbolize the other cities.

  17. At the top of the Symbology pane, click the back arrow to return to the list of symbols. Then, click the symbol for the Major cities value.

    For the remaining cities, you'll keep the default circular symbol shape, but you'll change the color and size to make the cities stand out more on the map.

  18. Change the following parameters for the symbol:
    • Color: Arctic White
    • Outline color: Gray 80%
    • Outline width: 1 pt
    • Size: 5 pt
  19. Click Apply. Click the back arrow to return to the list of symbols. Then, repeat the process to change the following parameters for the Minor cities symbol:
    • Color: Arctic White
    • Outline color: Gray 80%
    • Outline width: 1 pt
    • Size: 3 pt
  20. Click Apply.

    Final symbol for cities

    All cities on the map are now symbolized. The only cities in Laos and Cambodia are each nation's national capital. In addition to its national capital, Vietnam has three cities: a major city in the south end of the country, and two minor cities (one near the capital, and one in the center of the country, on the coast). Vietnam's capital, Hanoi, seems relatively free of bombing, indicating that most combat was conducted against the guerilla forces in the central and southern parts of Vietnam.

Label the cities

Points that represent cities aren't especially helpful if users don't know which cities are which. For instance, which city on the map is Ho Chi Minh City (previously known as Saigon), one of the most important cities during the Vietnam War? Some users might be able to spot the city at a glance (it's the major city located near the southern end of Vietnam), but you want your map to be accessible even to those who might not be familiar with the Vietnam War. You'll add labels for cities and use a definition query to give national capitals and larger cities more prominent labels than smaller cities.

  1. In the Contents pane, click the world_cities layer to select it. On the ribbon, click the Labeling tab. In the Layer group, click the Label button.

    Label button

    Labels that display the name of each city are activated on the map. The labels have a default style of plain black text. In areas of dense bombing, the labels are hard to distinguish from the agglomeration of purple missions. You'll first change the default label class to only label capitals and major cities. These labels will have larger and more prominent text.

  2. In the Label Class group, click the SQL Query button.

    SQL Query button

    The Label Class pane opens. You can add clauses in this pane, similar to how you added clauses to create definition queries previously. Because this label class is for both capitals and major cities, you'll create two query clauses.

  3. If necessary, click the Clause button. At the bottom of the Label Class pane, click Add Clause. Create the clause STATUS contains the text National then click Add Clause again.

    You can press Enter to input a clause.

  4. Add a clause that reads Or POPULATION is Greater Than or Equal to 1000000.

    Labels for capitals and major cities

  5. Click Apply.

    The query is applied. Only capital and major cities have labels, although they still use the default label symbology. You'll rename this label class to better describe its purpose and then change the label's appearance.

  6. Near the top of the Label Class pane, click the button with three horizontal lines and choose Rename label class.

    Rename label class

  7. Rename the label class National capitals and major cities and click OK.
  8. In the Label Class pane, click Symbol.

    Symbol for label class

  9. Expand Appearance. Change the following parameters:
    • Font name: Century Gothic
    • Font size: 11 pt
    • Color: Arctic White

    The Font name field contains all the fonts currently installed on your computer. There are hundreds of free fonts available for download online. Feel free to experiment with different fonts until you find one that works with your map data.

    Appearance parameters for label

    While this font and size are bigger, and the white color appears better near the purple bombing missions, labels are now difficult to discern around the gray countries. Next, you'll add a halo, or a border, around the label. Halos make it easier to see labels no matter what the background is, so they're good to use when you have high color variation on the map.

  10. Collapse Appearance and expand Halo. For Halo symbol, choose White fill. For Color, click the menu and click Color Properties.

    The Color Editor opens. You'll add a gray color (9C9C9C) that will complement the gray countries while allowing the white text to stand out from them.

  11. Change the HEX # to 9C9C9C and the Transparency to 50%. Click OK.

    Lastly, you'll remove the outline around the halo.

  12. Change the Outline color to No color.

    Halo parameters for label

    You'll make one final change before applying the label symbology. When adding halos to text, the halo surrounds each letter individually. If letters are spaced too close together, this can cause halos to overlap and make it difficult to distinguish individual letters. You'll increase the spacing between each letter to increase legibility.

  13. Near the top of the Label Class pane, click the Formatting tab.

    Formatting tab

    This tab contains options for indentations, text alignment, and letter width and spacing, among others.

  14. Expand Formatting. Change Letter spacing to 25%.

    Letter spacing

  15. Click Apply.

    Labels for capitals and major cities

    Next, you'll add labels for minor cities. The label style will be mostly the same, but with a small font size. First, you'll need to create another label class and definition query.

  16. On the ribbon, in the Labeling tab, in the Label Class group, click the Class menu and choose Create label class.

    Create label class

    The Create new label class window opens.

  17. Name the label class Minor cities and click OK.

    When you create the new label, it automatically becomes the active label class. The Label Class pane changes to show parameters for the Minor cities label.

  18. Near the top of the Label Class pane, click Class. Add two clauses:
    • STATUS does Not Include the value(s) National and provincial capital,National capital,National capital and provincial capital enclave
    • And POPULATION is Less Than 1000000

    Query clauses for minor cities

  19. Click Apply.

    The minor cities on the map now have default black labels.

  20. Near the top of the Label Class pane, click Symbol. In the General tab, for Appearance, change the following parameters:
    • Font name: Century Gothic
    • Font size: 10 pt
    • Color: Arctic White

    If you have any difficulty finding the correct parameters for this step or the next two steps, consult Steps 9 through 14 for more information.

  21. For Halo, create a halo with the same parameters you used for capitals and major cities:
    • Halo symbol: White fill
    • Color:
      • HEX #: 9C9C9C
      • Transparency: 50%
    • Outline color: No color

    Lastly, you'll change the letter spacing. Because you want the labels for minor cities to be smaller, you'll use a smaller amount of spacing.

  22. In the Formatting tab, change Letter spacing to 15%.
  23. Click Apply.

    Final labels for cities

    Both major and minor cities now have appropriately-sized labels.

Label the countries

Lastly, you'll label the countries that you added in the previous lesson. For most users, only showing national boundaries won't be sufficient for identification. As with cities, you'll create two label classes for countries: one for countries in the focus area, and one for countries outside the focus area. Instead of changing the size of each label, you'll instead change the color of the halo. For focus area countries, you'll use a purple halo that complements the highlighted border, while for other countries you'll use a gray halo that complements the gray country fill color. Styling the halos in these ways will cause the labels to be legible, but not in a way that clashes with the map's aesthetic.

  1. In the Contents pane, click World_Countries_(Generalized) to select it. On the ribbon, in the Labeling tab, in the Layer group, click Label.

    Labels turn on for the countries. Currently, each country has duplicate labels for islands or enclaves that are separate from the main country feature. You'll remove these duplicate labels later, when you format the labels.

  2. In the Label Class pane, click Class. Rename the current label class to Focus countries.
  3. Add a definition query clause that reads Country Includes the value(s) Vietnam,Laos,Cambodia.

    Alternatively, you can create three clauses, each beginning with Country is Equal to and ending with the three focus area countries. There's no difference between the two definition queries, so use the method that you prefer.

    Definition query clause for focus countries

  4. Click Apply.

    Only the three focus area countries now have labels, although Vietnam has several duplicate labels corresponding to islands within its jurisdiction. You'll remove the duplicates.

  5. In the Label Class pane, click Position. In the Conflict resolution tab, expand Remove duplicate labels and choose Remove all.

    Remove duplicate labels

    The map automatically changes. Now, each of the three countries has only one label. Next, you'll change the style of the label. You want the country labels to stand out from the city labels while not clashing with them. Additionally, because countries are a larger political unit than cities, you want their labels to be more prominent in the visual hierarchy. You'll use the same font and coloring, but make the country labels larger and format them so that every letter is upper case.

  6. In the Label Class pane, click Symbol. In the General tab, expand Appearance and change the following parameters:
    • Font name: Century Gothic
    • Font style: Bold
    • Size: 12 pt
    • Color: Arctic White
    • Text case: Upper case

    Next, you'll give the labels a purple halo to match the highlight around the focus area countries.

  7. Collapse Appearance and expand Halo. Create a halo with the following parameters:
    • Halo symbol: White fill
    • Color:
      • HEX #: 4C0073
      • Transparency: 80%
    • Outline color: No color
    • Halo size: 1.4 pt

    As with the city labels, you'll also increase letter spacing. Because the text is larger, you'll use more spacing.

  8. In the Formatting tab, expand Formatting and change Letter spacing to 50%.
  9. Click Apply.

    Labels for focus countries

    The country labels are big and legible and match the overall aesthetic of the map. Next, you'll add a new label class for the remaining countries.

  10. On the ribbon, in the Labeling tab, in the Label Class group, click the Class menu and choose Create label class.
  11. Name the label class Other countries and click OK.
  12. In the Label Class pane, click Class. Add the query clause Country does Not Include the value(s) Vietnam,Laos,Cambodia.

    Definition query clause for other countries

  13. Click Apply.
  14. Remove duplicate labels for the label class (consult step 5 if you don't remember how).

    You'll give the label a similar appearance to the label you used for the focus countries, except slightly smaller to deemphasize them on the map.

  15. Change the following Appearance parameters:
    • Font name: Century Gothic
    • Font style: Bold
    • Size: 11 pt
    • Color: Arctic White
    • Text case: Upper case

    The label's halo will also be similar to the one used for the focus countries label, except slightly smaller and with a gray color instead of purple.

  16. Change the following Halo parameters:
    • Halo symbol: White fill
    • Color:
      • Color Model: Grayscale
      • Gray: 100
      • Transparency: 80%
    • Outline color: No color
  17. Change the letter spacing to 40% (consult step 8 if you don't remember how).
  18. Click Apply.

    Final map

    Your map is complete.

  19. Save the project.

In this lesson, you added the remaining reference information to the map. You then symbolized the data accordingly and created labels for pertinent information. You used different label classes to emphasize certain features over others, creating a clear visual hierarchy in your map. In the next lesson, you'll create supplementary materials that will elucidate some of the more difficult aspects of your map. First, you'll create a time series chart to show bombings over time. Then, you'll create a hexagon bin inset map to quantify the density of bombing missions.