MapInfo 12.0’s Labels Rule!

It’s that time of year again-
on June 20th Pitney Bowes Software began shipping MapInfo
Professional 12.0. With it comes new features and improvements on
its scale bar tool, layout alignment, legend designer, and
universal translator. Oh yes, it is also now certified to run on
Windows 8. However, among the new version’s enhancements, the
improved labeling capabilities may be the most exciting.
MapInfo users had to contend with the standard labeling. The user
was offered a few options regarding overlapping text, and the
software was smart enough to try multiple label positions on a
crowded map. But more often than not, manual editing of individual
labels, such as changing the font size or dragging the label beyond
the associated feature, would be necessary. These case-by-case
adjustments could slow the user down significantly. Taking a look
at a basic map labeled by the old standard, in this case some
Boston area neighborhoods (Figure 1), you can see that labels with
the same font size often exceed their borders or bump neighboring
labels into positions which do not contribute to a natural-looking
mapscape. The new labeling features in MapInfo 12.0 can greatly
alleviate these concerns. There are four new options that users can
access in 12.0. In the revamped Labeling Rules display panel of
Layer Properties (Figure 2), I have marked off in red the new
capabilities that will help us improve the look of our Boston map.
The four options under review here are:
  1. Auto
    position label within region,
  2. Allow font
    reduction for better fit,
  3. Confine labels to
    region boundary and,
  4. Place outside if

1: Basic Map Labels
2: New Labeling Rules Panel

1) Auto Positioning

In the past,
users were able to choose where to anchor the label relative to the
feature. The chosen anchor-point was then applied to all the labels
on that layer. With the new Auto Positioning feature, MapInfo will
choose the most appropriate anchor point for each label on an
individual basis. Enabling this feature may not always produce the
most dramatic effect on its own, but is does unlock more label
parameters. The remainder of the features discussed here can only
be employed if the ‘Auto Position label within Region’ radial is

2. Font

This feature allows the text size of labels to
vary as the map’s view-scale is adjusted. As Figure 4 shows,
crowded areas of small polygons receive reduced font sizes, while
the text of larger polygons remains at the original, specified
value. There is even a slide bar to control the magnitude of
the reduction, and an extra combo-box to delimit the number of
reduction intervals. The result of deploying this Font Reduction is
a less crowded display that is easier on the eyes.
Figure 4. Allowing font reduction for
better label fit.

3. Confine Labels to Region Boundary

Confining is
a useful tool which allows us to force the labels to stay
within the boundaries that they represent. As per the style
of your typical atlas, the text is confined to its containing
region, preventing the viewer from accidentally associating a label
with the incorrect boundary. Of course, this means that, at
some scales, some regions will not be labeled. Whether or not this
suits you depends on the purpose of your map, but you can see that
our representation of Boston is evolving into a more pleasing
Figure 5: Confine the extents of the
label to the boundaries of the region
This final option allows proportionally
large labels to be automatically placed outside of their
regions, but connected to their origins by lines or arrows.
In previous versions, users would have to drag the selected label
to a desired position to activate such lines. Now, MapInfo is
equipped to carry out this action for us to great effect. The final
figure showcases all four of the features discussed today working
in concert to produce the best possible map. Perhaps not all
regions will be treated correctly on the first pass, but it is
closer than it’s ever been before.
Figure 6: Labels that are long relative to their region
are placed outside of the region.


One of
the most exciting aspects MapInfo 12.0 is its new labeling
capabilities . The new array of labeling parameters enables
the user to create more aesthetically pleasing maps in less time
than ever before.