ArcGIS for Desktop

Part 2: Mapping the Geology of the NT

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Part 1 of this tutorial was all about preparation. There was strong emphasis on getting your files organised, and applying appropriate symbology to the data.

Part 2 of this exercise is about making a map, so for this part of the exercise you are going to be residing in Layout View. In Part 1 you were seing Data View the whole time.

Step 1: Toggle to Layout View

At the bottom of the Map window the two small icons to the left allow users to toggle between Map View and Layout View. Click the Layout View icon.


You will immediately see a page layout basically with all your Data Frames in your Table of Contents dumped onto the page.


With Layout View also come a Layout Toolbar. It is important to get used to working with the Layout pan and zoom tools and the pan and zoom tools on the Tools toolbar. The pan and zoom tools on the Layout toolbar are for panning and zooming around your PAGE, while the pan and zoom tools on the tools toolbar are used to pan and zoom around within a Data Frame. This means you can use one to zoom into a part of your page, and use the other to zoom into a smaller area on your map.


Step 2: Page Setup

The first task is to setup your page.

  • From the File menu, select Page and Print  Setup…
  • Ensure that you choose either a printer or a print driver.
  • Change the Paper size to A3.
  • Change the Orientation to Landscape.
  • Leave all other defaults and hit OK.



Step 3: Working with Data Frames in Layout View

From the image below you may be concerned that all your maps are not immediately visible. This is normal; the Overview Data Frame, being the first Data Frame in the Table of Contents, is maximised to the full page.  All other Data Frames are placed smaller in size in the middle of the page, on top of each other.  You will now rearrange the Data Frames to suite the map style.


Step 3.1: The Overview Map Data Frame

  • Click somewhere toward the edge of the page to select the Overview Data Frame. You will see blue coloured handles that may be used to resize the Data Frame. This corner handle may be used to increase and decrease the height and width of the Data Frame.Tip: wait until the cursor changes to a double arrow before clicking and dragging to resize.


  • Resize the OVERVIEW Data Frame so that it is relatively small, approximately as shown below. Move the Data Frame as close as possible to the top left corner of the faint dotted grey border. This represents the printer extents.


  • Use the Zoom and Pan tools on the Tools toolbar to centre the data within the OVERVIEW Data Frame. Remember you can use the zoom and pan tools to zoom into this area on the page first.



Next we will remove the Frame outline colour for the Data Frame.

  • Right-click somewhere in the centre of the Data Frame and select Properties.


  • On the Frame tab, set the Border outline to None.


  • Hit OK when done. Don’t worry about the light grey dashed border still visible around your Data Frame. This is not printed and is there for you to see the extent of your Data Frame.



Step 3.2: The Main Data Frames

  • Click and drag each of the three Data Frames still remaining in the middle of the page so that they are roughly positioned as follows.


  • When a Data Frame is selected in Layout View, you should see that the Data Frame in the Table of Contents is highlighted in bold, meaning it is the active Data Frame.
  • Ensure that the LEFT Data Frame is Lithology, the CENTRE Data Frame is Eon and the RIGHT Data Frame is Era.


Resize the Lithology Data Frame so that it occupies slightly less than 1/3 of the space available. Drag and position the Data Frame allowing space for the other two.


Now click anywhere on the page, not on a Data Frame. This should deselect anything.


Click on the far-right Era Data Frame. Note the 8 small square handlers for resizing and that they are BLUE.


  • With the Era Data Frame selected as shown above, hold down the SHIFT key on your keyboard and click on each of the Eon and Lithology Data Frames. All THREE should now be selected. Note how the first two selected have GREEN handlers and the last one has BLUE handlers. Think of the BLUE selection as where you are heading… we want the two smaller Data Frames to be the same size as the Lithology Data Frame.


  • Right-click somewhere within the Lithology Data Frame and select Distribute. Review the options.



  • Choose the Option Make Same Size.


  • Click anywhere on the page not on a Data Frame to deselect everything.
  • Move the right-hand Data Frame (Era) so that its right-hand edge is as close a possible to the edge of the printer extents – then inner light grey dashed border.


  • Again holding the SHIFT key, click on each of the THREE Data Frames to select them all. Be sure to select either the left or right Data Frames first and last.
  • Right-click anywhere within any of the selected Data Frames and select Distribute => Distribute Horizontally. This moves the centre Data Frame such that the space between each Data Frame is equal.



  • Right-click anywhere within any of the selected Data Frames and select Align = Align Bottom.
  • Click anywhere on the page not on a Data Frame to deselect objects.



  • Click on each Data Frame and hit the View Full Extent button. This will ensure a consistent view extent for each Data Frame.




Step 4: Adding a Title

  • From the Insert menu select Title.


  • Enter an appropriate Title & hit OK.



Available to you is the Draw toolbar. This may already be docked at the bottom of the screen, however you can always open this toolbar by selecting the Customize menu => Toolbars.


  • You can see that the Title is selected. Use the Font and Size options on the Draw toolbar to adjust the style of your title. Drag and position your title into place.


Step 5: Adding Legends

  • Select the Lithology Data Frame so that it is active/selected.
  • From the Insert menu select Legend.
  • On the first page of the Legend Wizard, change the number of columns to 2. and hit Next.



  • Delete the Legend Title. It is not necessary for this exercise. Hit Next.


  • Do NOT apply a border, background or color. Hit Next.



On the next step, change the Area shape to Natural Area (or whatever you like). This is just the symbol shape used in the Legend. Hit Next.



Accept all defaults on the final step and hit FINISH.


  • Drag the legend into position. You will see that it may be a little to large, and it also included a category called <all other values> which we need to turn off.



In the Table of Contents, dounbble click on the Geology_NT layer in the Lithology Data Frame. Select the Symbology tab and untick the <all other values> category.


  • The result will be that it will now disappear from the Legend too.
  • Resize your legend by grabbing one of the corners and dragging until it fits nicely.



However we can improve the Legend slightly by renaming the name of the layer and deleteing the Field Name used for the Unique Values classification.


So let’s look at the Table of Content again. Focus on the Lithology Data FRame


You may recall from Part 1 of this exercise that you can renmame Data Frames. You can also rename Layer Names and Category labels.

  • Click once on Geology to highligh in blue as shown above.
  • Either press F2 on your keyboard, or pause a moment and click a second time on the Geology_NT text. This opens the Layer NAme for editing.


  • Change the Name to Lithology. You will notice that the Legend immediately updates to reflect the change.


  • Next select the Category label and delete the text. Click once on LITH_ASSOC and press F2.
  • Delete the highlighted text.


Your Legend will now appear cleaner and less cluttered!


Now repeat this process to create Legends for the other TWO Data Frames!

  • Remeber to first select the Data Frame you want to create a legend for.
  • Only ONE colomn is required for the other two Data Frames.

You final map should look something like this:




I will expand these instructions and elaborate on explanations as time permits. There are certainly many more things we can do to this layout such as adding a graticule, referencing the data sources or perhaps even providing a brief explanation of the data itself on the map.

The point of this exercise is to walk you through the steps required to make a map with multiple Data Frames, and along the way picking up a wide range of related skills to achieve the end result.

Feedback welcome: