Stylesheet themes are able to read and work with the data found in the MAP Attributes panel and used to quickly style MAP Layers using Adobe Illustrator symbols, graphic styles and character styles.

Theme rules can be created in two ways: manually (one by one) or generated using a data classification method. In addition, themes can be applied to data on a one-to-one basis, where specific attribute values are assigned with a specific style or symbol (e.g. each country its own distinct colour) or with attribute value ranges (e.g. a country's population growth that falls within a range of 2.9 to 4.6% and a colour used to represent it).

Using Stylesheet Themes

Create New Stylesheet

To create a new stylesheet, click the Add Map Theme button in the MAP Themes panel. Alternatively, choose New MAP Theme from the MAP Themes panel options menu. This opens the New MAP Theme dialog box, where the theme name, theme type, and feature type for a new stylesheet is specified. With Stylesheet selected as the theme type, the Feature Type drop-down list contains a list of available feature types: Area, Line, Point and Text.


Stylesheet themes are displayed in the MAP Themes panel. To edit a Stylesheet theme, double-click a Stylesheet name or select Edit "Theme Name" from the MAP Themes panel option menu. This opens the Edit Stylesheet Theme dialog box.


It may be useful to enable the Base attribute schema on option and then choose an appropriate MAP layer in the Undefined Layer dialog box before attempting to apply Stylesheet MAP Themes to a new layer. The new MAP layer will inherit the chosen attribute structure and applying Stylesheet MAP Themes will be easier because creating or editing the attribute structure is not required.

Stylesheet Theme Editor

The Edit Stylesheet Theme dialog box is where rule generation and styling takes place.


The Theme name is reflected in the MAP Themes panel and can be edited.


At least one MAP Layer must be specified before generating rules. Click the Layers button to open the Select Layers dialog box to choose applicable layers. Multiple layers can be chosen, however, rules can only be generated on a per layer basis (meaning multiple rules can not be created across multiple layers simultaneously). Selected MAP Layers are listed beside the Select Layers button.


The Auto-assign setting can be used to auto-assign any imported layers to the stylesheet that have the same feature type or only auto-assign layers to the stylesheet if they match a pattern.


The Visual properties setting can be used to either reset visual properties before applying rules or reset visual properties for art that does not qualify for any rule. The Clear instead of reset setting removes all styles from art objects, sets fill and stroke to none and returns opacity to 100%.

Add Stylesheet Rules Manually

To add a single rule, click the Add Rule button. Rules are shown in the rule list on the left hand-side of the Edit Stylesheet Theme dialog box. When a rule is selected, the settings for it are active to the right where its Name, Expression and Visual Properties can be assigned.


Use caution when assigning a Stylesheet theme to grouped objects or compound paths, the graphic styles may not apply universally.

Assign Expression

The Expression section provides options to define the criteria in which the data chosen will be styled. There are two modes to define an expression: simple and advanced.


By default, the Simple Expression mode is displayed and is intended to facilitate quick expression generation.


First, choose an attribute column from the drop-down list or manually type in an attribute name. Secondly, choose from a comparison operator from the drop-down list:


Finally, type or choose value against which the comparison will be applied. To create an expression based on a range, click the Range operator check box to enable an additional comparison and value input pair.





Greater than


Less than


Equal to


Greater than or equal to


Less than or equal to


Not equal to


Property and read-only attributes cannot be selected in the Simple Expression mode. To use property and read-only attribute values, click the Toggle Mode button to switch to the Advanced Expression mode.


In Advanced Expression mode, construct more complex expressions and to use read-only and property attributes. The Expression Validity icon will report if the expression entered is valid. Otherwise it will report invalid and include additional warning notes. Alternatively, use the Expression Builder to create and edit expressions. To use a saved or recent expression, use the Expression Library.

Apply Visual Properties

The Apply Visual Properties section provides many options to style data including graphic style, stroke, stroke weight, fill, scale and opacity. Depending on the type of stylesheet feature type, the style properties may differ:


For Area and Line feature types



Click the check box beside each option to enable it. The Style option contains a drop-down list of styles that exist in the Adobe Illustrator Graphic Styles panel.


For Point feature type


The Symbol option contains a drop-down list of symbols that exist in the Adobe Illustrator Symbols panel.


For Text feature type


The Style option contains a drop-down list of character styles that currently exist in the Adobe Illustrator Character Styles panel. Note that enabling the Font and Font size options will override the Style option.


Click the Toggle Mode button to toggle between Simple and Advanced mode for style properties. In the Advanced mode, an expression can be entered manually, created with the Expression Builder or chosen from the Expression Library. This essentially allows attribute information to be used as the basis for style properties.



By default, the Scale is 100%. Editing the scale will alter the symbol size (points) or stroke weight (areas and lines). The maximum scaling factor is 1000%.


The Opacity setting adjusts the transparency of all visual properties. For area and line feature types, there are separate fill and stroke opacity settings. Combine with the Opacity setting to increase overall opacity.

Move Simple Expression to Advanced Expression

It is possible to move an expression from Simple Expression mode to the Advanced Expression mode. This may help when tweaking rule expressions to achieve optimal thematic results. To move a simple expression, right-click below the Simple Expression input settings (on the Expression line) and click Move to Advanced in the context menu.


The expression will appear in the Advanced Expression mode.


information An advanced expression cannot be moved to a simple expression. Doing so will remove the expression from the Simple Expression mode.

Add Stylesheet Rules with Batch Generate Rules

To generate multiple rules based on a classification, click the Batch Generate Rules button in the Edit Stylesheet Theme dialog box. This opens the Batch Generate Rules dialog box:


The Batch Generate Rules dialog box is used to generate rules on a per layer, per attribute basis (however, if multiple layers share  a common attribute, it can be chosen). Once a MAP Layer and attribute are chosen, click the Load button to populate the Data Classification table below it. The default classification method is Equal Intervals, but can be changed to any of the data classification methods described below. The classification is dependent on how many data classes are specified. In addition, set the start or end value as the inclusive boundary which determines whether the data range starts or ends on a boundary value. Enable the Ignore option and enter an expression (or use the Expression Builder or Library) to specify data values that will be ignored.


Stylesheet MAP Themes support four types of data classification methods:

Classification method


Equal Intervals

This classification method sets the value ranges in each category equal in size. The entire range of data values is divided equally into the number of categories chosen.


This method classifies data into the number of categories chosen with an equal number of units in each category.

Natural Breaks

This classification method is based on the Jenks-Caspall algorithm. It uses an empirical approach based on minimizing the sum of absolute deviations around class means. Using arbitrary set of classes, it calculates a total error and attempts to reduce this error by moving observations between adjacent classes.

Unique Values

This method creates a category for each unique value in the chosen data set. This method is most appropriately used when there are few unique values within a data set.


Click the Show distribution histogram button beside the Method drop-down to display a distribution histogram and chart.



Use the Visual Property Assignment section to specify how the data classifications are styled. Each style property (except for stroke weight) can be set in two ways: as a ramp or as a single application. By default, the Ramp mode is enabled. This applies a style property to all data classes in a ramp manner (ascending to descending, or if the reverse option is checked, descending to ascending). When a style property is in Single Value mode, the options available change. This option applies the same style property to all data classes. Before defining a colour range for stroke or fill, a colour group will need to be created in the Swatches panel.


For Area and Line feature types


For Point feature types


For Text feature types


Any enabled style options are shown in the data classification table under its own column heading and each classification its respective style setting. When additional classes are added to the table, visual styles that are in Ramp mode will be adjusted proportionally. For example, a layer has an opacity ramp from 0% to 100% and each of its three classes has an opacity value of 0%, 50% and 100%. When a fourth class is added, the opacity for each class is proportionally changed to 0%, 33%, 66% and 100%. This works best for visual properties that may be continuously adjustable such as scale or colour gradients. A warning icon appears when there is a greater number of classes than colour swatches (groups) or styles. This will lead to colours or styles being repeated.


When the rules and style properties are set, click Add or Overwrite. Add adds more rules to the Rules list. Overwrite clears all existing rules in the Rules list and replaces it with the current rules and styles.

Batch Edit Rules

Instead of overwriting rules just to change styles, click the Batch Edit Rules button in the Edit Stylesheet Theme dialog box to edit existing applied styles.


Select (or deselect) existing rules from the Affected rules list and change style properties in the Overwrite Visual Properties section. Changes made to rules with existing styles are reflected in the Changes table where a green arrow indicates the new style changes. Similar to the Batch Generate Rules dialog box, any new style properties added are reflected in the Changes table. All style changes to rules are updated in the Edit Stylesheet Theme dialog box. There is no need to recreate existing visual properties in order to maintain them.


MAPublisher dialog boxes that have adjustable size, distance or length settings can have its units converted. Click the drop-down and choose a new unit of measure. The value in the box automatically converts to the chosen units.


Auto-Assign Layers

The Auto-Assign Layers setting can be used to automatically assign any imported layers to the stylesheet that have the same feature type or only automatically assign layers to the stylesheet if they match a pattern. This may be useful when importing layers that are similar to an existing stylesheet theme and will decrease the amount of setup time for each one. Click the status link in the Edit Stylesheet Theme dialog box to access the auto-assign settings.


The pattern type can consist of Equals, Starts with, Ends with, Contains, and Wildcard. Enter the imported layer name into the Layer Name Match column. Enable the case sensitive for a matching pattern to match a layer's character case exactly. By default, the Ignore automatic import suffix when comparing option is checked. This ignores the suffix (e.g. _area, _line, _point) that is applied to a layer during import.

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Last updated: 4/15/2019