Pitney Bowes
MapInfo Pro™ Monthly Journal
Easy Tip: Simple map annotation – how to add circles, text and other highlights to your map

Easy Tip MapInfo Pro includes a special Cosmetic layer in your map window. You can use this layer to draw circles, polygons, rectangles or make other annotations to your map In this article, we’ll show you how. It is pretty easy!

The info in this article pertains to all versions of MapInfo Pro.

The Cosmetic Layer

All map windows have a Cosmetic layer. This layer has many purposes and is occasionally used by MapInfo Pro itself. For example, if you use the Find command the symbol used to mark the found location is placed on the Cosmetic layer.

The Cosmetic layer is the topmost layer in the Map window.

Drawing annotations

The first step is the Cosmetic layer must be made editable. There are two easy ways to do that depicted in the screen shot below.

map screenshot
Map data is StreetPro Ireland. © TomTom BV.

Once you have an editable layer, you can use the drawing tools to add points, lines, polygons, rectangles, circles, ellipses and more to your map.
  • In the ribbon interface (used by the 64 bit versions) the drawing tools are in the Insert gallery on the Spatial tab. See the screen shot above.
  • In the 32 bit interface, the drawing tools are on the Drawing toolbar. If the Drawing tool bar is not visible, click on the Options menu and choose Toolbars. You have the option here to turn it on.
In the map above, a rectangle has been drawn around the Docklands area of Dublin.

Editing an object after you have drawn it

After you have drawn an object, you may want to edit it. This could be to change the color/style or to move, resize or reshape it. There are a few different techniques you will want to know about.
  1. To change the color or style, take the Select tool and double-click the object. A dialog box will appear. Click the Style button to choose a new style.

  2. object dialog

  3. To move an object you can click and drag it.

  4. To resize or shape rectangles and ellipses/circles, click on the object once to select it. You will see edit handles around the object.

  5. edit object

  6. To reshape polygons or polylines is a little different.

    In the 64 bit version ribbon interface, select the polygon or polyline. Right click in the map to access the mini-toolbar and choose the Reshape button. You are now able to select, move or delete each of the nodes individually.

    In the 32 bit version, select the polygon or polyline. On the Drawing toolbar, click the Reshape button. You are now able to select, move or delete each of the nodes individually.

    In both of the above cases there is also an Add Node button you can use to add additional nodes.
The tutorial videos mentioned below will provide more detail on reshaping objects.

More information on Drawing and Editing objects

The MapInfo YouTube channel includes three videos on Drawing and Editing objects in MapInfo Pro. These were created using the older 32 bit interface but the principles and concepts remain the same in the new ribbon interface. You will find the functionality on the Spatial tab in the 64 bit version and in the Mini-toolbar, as mentioned above.

Click here for the first video in the series.

Click here for the second video in the series:

Click here for the third video in the series:

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Article by Tom Probert, Editor of "The MapInfo Pro" journal
When not writing articles for "The MapInfo Pro" journal, Tom enjoys talking to MapInfo Pro users at conferences and events. When not working he likes to see movies with car chases, explosions and kung-fu fighting.