Scale Bar

The Map | Add | Scale Bar command places a distance scale on your map. The distance scale is relative to the coordinate system used for the map. If the map has a known projection, the scale bar can be set to centimeters, chains, feet, inches, kilometers, links, meters, miles, millimeters, nautical miles, rods, US feet, or yards.


Scale Bars on Projected Maps

Because of the inherent problems in plotting the globe on a flat surface (see Introduction to Map Projections), scale bars are exact at only one or two latitudes (or Y coordinates) on the map. On large scale maps that cover a relatively small area, such as a single state, the inaccuracies are minor and can be ignored. On small-scale maps, that cover large areas, the inaccuracies become more pronounced but some knowledge of how the scale bars are calculated helps to interpret scale.


Scale Bar Properties

Scale bar properties are located in the Property Manager. The Property Manager contains General and Info pages when the scale bar is selected.


General Page

The General page of the Property Manager contains description, cycle spacing, font, and format properties for the scale bar.


Edit scale bar properties in the General page of the Property Manager.







Scale Bar Description

Title text is the text that appears on the scale bar. The default description is based on the measurement option you select. For example, if your page units are in inches, your map is in latitude/longitude, and your scale is in nautical miles, the default text would be, "1 inch on map = # nautical miles" where # is a number. If you want to change the default description, you can enter the desired text into the box. If you do not want a title to appear, delete the text from the Title text box. You can use math text in the Description box for text formatting, or edit description text in the text editor by clicking the button.


The Position option in the Title section places the title text above or below the scale bar. The title bar is always the first line of text when Above is selected. When Below is selected, the Title text is always the last line of text.


Edit the title text Offset by typing a value in page units into the Offset box or clicking the buttons. The offset value determines how far the Title text is drawn from other text or the scale bar, depending on the four Position selections.


Scale Bar Units

Select the units for the scale bar in the Units list. Available units include Centimeters, Chains, Feet, Inches, Kilometers, Links, Meters, Miles, MillimetersNautical Miles, Rods, Unit of 1, US Feet, and Yards. If the projection is unknown, Map units are the scale units.


Click the Show units check box in the Description section to indicate the scale units on the scale bar. Select Above or Below in the Position field below Show units to place the units above or below the scale bar.


Representative Fraction

Click the Show RF scale check box to show the ratio of distance on the map to distance on the Earth's surface. The RF scale has the form of 1 page unit : # scale units. Select Above or Below in the Position field below Show RF scale to place the RF scale above or below the scale bar.


Parallel True to Scale

The Parallel true to scale group controls the true latitude text display.


Scale Bar Styles and Cycles

Select a scale bar style from the Style list. Available style options include Single bar alternate, Single bar unfilled, Double bar alternate, Double bar unfilled, Comb, Double-sided comb, Rail, and Zigzag.


The scale bar styles include (clockwise from the upper right): Comb,

Double-sided comb, Rail, Zigzag, Double bar unfilled, Double bar

alternate, Single bar unfilled, and Single bar alternate.


Select the number of cycles in the Number of cycles field. Type a number in the Number of cycles box or click the buttons to set the number of cycles.


Set the Cycle spacing by typing a value into the Cycle spacing field. The units for the cycle are selected in the Units list.



Subdivisions can be added to the first cycle by clicking the Show subdivision check box. Select the Number of subdivisions for the first cycle by typing a number in the box or clicking the buttons.


Default Size

If you have used the selection handles to size the scale bar, click  the Default Scale Bar Size button to return the scale bar to its original size.


Line Properties

Edit scale bar line properties in the General section. See the line properties help page for more information on editing scale bar line properties.



Change the display angles of the scale bar labels by typing a value in degrees into the Angle (degrees) field. You can also adjust the label angle by clicking and dragging the bar. Select Above or Below in the Position field in the Labels section to place the labels above or below the scale bar.


See the font properties and label format help pages for more information on editing scale label font and format properties.



See Also


Using Map | Scale with Unprojected Latitude/Longitude Maps