How to Add a Custom Symbol to Arcview 3x

Caitlin Dempsey


This article will show you in easy to follow steps how to add your own image file to ArcView 3x in order to create a custom symbol.

Difficulty Level: Easy    Time Required: 5 minutes

Here’s How:

  • Open up the ArcView project file that you want to add the custom symbol to.
  • Use the keystroke combination ctrl and p to open up the symbol palette GUI. Or you can go to Window – Show Symbol Window…
  • Click on the last icon that looks like an artist’s palette.
  • From the type pull-down menu choose the marker option.
  • A new button should appear at the bottom of the gui called Import. Click on this button.
  • From the Load Icon GUI navigate to the directory where your image is stored. You can load images in a variety of formats such as gifs, tiffs, Sun raster, MacPaint, Bitmap and X Bitmaps.
  • Select the image file that you want and hit “okay” to load it into the symbols palette.
  • Now click on the icon that looks like a pushpin to verify that the image has been loaded. This icon is the third from the left. The image will be the last one in the list so scroll to the bottom
  • Double-click on the point theme you want the image to iconify. This will bring up the legend editor.
  • Now double-click on the symbol to edit it. This will bring the symbol palette to the front.
  • Scroll down to your image at the bottom of the list and click on it to select.
  • Adjust the symbol size you want it to be with the size pulldown menu.
  • You can also rotate the symbol if you want to by typing in the desired angle in the box.
  • Click apply to set the new symbol
  • Close the legend editor and make sure your theme is turned on and voila!


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  • Choose simple, clear images which will work the best
  • The image quality will degrade so start with the best possible source
  • Make sure the image you use does not have any permission restrictions. Obtain such permissions if necessary!


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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.