Avenza MAPublisher with LabelPro is the fastest way of labeling a lot of highways on a map.
On a recent project featuring a poster-sized map for Right of Way Management, I needed to add 1150 highway labels. Not looking forward to manually adding symbols and numbers, I turned to MAPublisher’s LabelPro to save a ton of time and an equal measure of sanity.
To label highways with LabelPro, make sure your road data has a field with the highway number. Then create a text layer for the labels and drag this layer into the appropriate view in the MAP View panel. Because LabelPro uses a font for its highways symbols, choose Text, not Point, for Feature Type.
Next, click the LabelPro icon, or choose Object > MAPublisher > MAP LabelPro, to open the MAP LabelPro dialog. Click the Setup Layers button and add checkmarks to the layer(s) containing road data you want to label.
In the Style dialog, set the label properties such as Font family, size, and color. Color is key—you’ll want to give the label text a different color than LabelPro’s default black color it automatically assigns to the highway shield symbols (so you can later select the shields instead of the number labels).
Click the Label with symbol checkbox and choose the symbol file and shield appropriate for the kind of highway represented by the data. Lastly, choose or edit the Rules and the Suppression layer options. When you finish, click OK to return to the MAP LabelPro dialog and then click Label to label your data.
Before you can change the LabelPro symbols, download the findAndReplaceGraphic script from Nathaniel Kelso. Once downloaded, quit Illustrator and place this script in Illustrator’s Preset > Scripts folder, and then restart Illustrator.
Now you’re ready to swap LabelPro’s highway shield symbols with other symbols from Illustrator’s Symbols panel. I use a set of map symbols from map-symbol.com. To make the swap, choose Select All to select text and symbols produced by LabelPro. Then choose Object > Ungroup. Next, create a new layer, open the MAP View panel, and drag the new layer into the appropriate MAP View. Choose Point as the Feature Type. Now click a shield symbol and choose Select > Same > Fill Color. Drag the selected symbols to the new layer you just created.
To change the LabelPro shield symbols, drag a symbol from Illustrator’s Symbols panel onto the highway shields layer. Make sure this symbol is at the top of the layer (Object > Arrange > Bring to Front) because the script you’re about to run selects the layer’s top symbol as the highway shield replacement. Finally, choose Select > All and from File > Scripts run the “findAndReplaceGraphic_centered_v2.jsx” script.
Once the script completes, the LabelPro shield symbols will be replaced by your Illustrator highway symbols.