Rummaging in the Toolbox: The North Arrow

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Rummaging in the Toolbox: The North Arrow
User-added imageThis article pertains to both the 32 bit and 64 bit versions of MapInfo Pro.

The relevance of the North Arrow in map making has always served as fuel for passionate discussions within the mapping fraternity. The lines are normally drawn between two major camps, the "Old School" Cartographers who claim that no map is worth its salt if a North Arrow is not included and camp two that includes the North Arrow depending on their orthographic needs and often create maps without the North Arrow.

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Regardless of which camp you subscribe to, MapInfo Pro gives you the opportunity to add a North Arrow to a Map and Layout Windows in various styles and optionally add a Magnetic Declination Arrow. 

This article will cover three different ways you can add a North arrow to your map or Layout window.
  • North Arrow tool in the Tool Manager. This adds a North arrow to your map window.
  • Using an image. This is done in the Layout Designer window.
  • Using a symbol. This can be done in the map or in a Layout Designer window (or in the older Layout window).
Using the North Arrow tool

The first step is to load the North Arrow tool using the Tool Manager. In the 32 bit versions of MapInfo Pro this is in the Tools menu (click on the Tool Manager command).

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In the 64 bit version the Tool Manager is found on the Home tab. You can also open it up into a separate window from the Window gallery (also on the Home tab).

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Proceed to the Running tab and double click the North Arrow tool the dialog box appears below.

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Adding the North Arrow to Map Layout Window

There are two tried and tested ways to add the North Arrow to the layout page either by using an image (which can be rotated, if necessary). You can also place a symbol on the Layout from the MapInfo Symbol sets. 

1. Inserting an image to be used as the North Arrow which you can rotate

With your new Layout created in the 64 bit version go to the Layout tab. In the Edit group, select Image

Note that direct support for images in this fashion is only present in the Layout Designer window. 

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2. Inserting the North Arrow via the Style Symbol option. 

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What does the North Arrow provide your Map Readers?
  • Users can get a clearer understanding of the orientation of their maps.
  • Where a study area does not show a large area for example the World or Continents the north orientation can be a challenge to determine especial when reading very large scale maps.
  • With the emergence of the various data types that can be consumed by MapInfo it is of paramount importance to re-project all the datasets to the same coordinate system to avoid alignment errors, the North Arrow is a vital tool to maintain integrity of the orientation.
  • Satellite images are proving and excellent choice for base maps with that said, keen interest must be paid to the distortion that can occur especially at very large viewing angles, if the North Arrow is used it provides the added security of knowing that maps are aligned correctly.
Want more tools?

The Tool Manager in MapInfo Pro has a number of useful tools but did you know there is a Community Downloads site with many more great tools and utilities for MapInfo Pro? This is thanks to a generous community and dedicated Pitney Bowes staff members 

When you have verified that the New address looks fine, you can update the original address column with the value from the new address column using Update Column. 

Here is the link to the Community Downloads site:

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Article by Sowande Snagg, Advisory Software Support Engineer
When not writing articles for "The MapInfo Pro" Journal, Sowande enjoys talking to MapInfo Pro users to help in resolving their business spatial problems. When not working he is a tenacious Geocacher, and submerges himself into extreme obstacle racing coupled with as much sport as possible.
UPDATED:  June 27, 2017