National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Apply Definition Queries & Adjust Labeling

Definition Queries

Using definition queries allows GISS to display a subset of incident data on each map product to tailor the product to a specific audience. The queries below are examples; work with your SITL to determine what should be displayed on a given map product. To leverage definition queries, attribute fields in the layers of the Offline Copy must be edited during an edit session.

If employing the SITL Approval Workflow, only display features that have been approved. On the Event Point and Event Line layers at minimum, set the following definition query:

FeatureStatus = 'Approved'

If working in an area with other active incidents, only display features from the incident in which you are assigned. Confirm with the SITL if any data from other incidents should be displayed (i.e. Event Polygon, Perimeter Line), then set a definition query like the following on relevant layers:

IncidentName = 'Bighorn'

If there is data in the NIFS that should not display on printed maps, set the following definition query on relevant layers:

IsVisible = ‘Yes’

If working on a specific map product that only needs to display certain features relevant to the map audience, set a definition query to only display those features. For example, on an air operations map, a definition query on the Event Point could be:

FeatureCategory IN ('Aerial Hazard', 'Airstrip or Airport', 'Aviation Check Point', 'Branch Break', 'Camp', 'Dip Site', 'Division Break', 'Helibase', 'Helispot', 'Hot Spot - Spot Fire', 'Incident Command Post', 'Landmark', 'Lookout', 'Medical', 'Mobile Retardant Base', 'Repeater', 'Restricted Water Source', 'Sling Site', 'Staging Area', 'Unimproved Landing Area', 'Value at Risk', 'Water Source', 'Zone Break')

Definition queries can be combined based on the need of the map. They can also be saved as Query Expression Files (EXP) to be applied across multiple map products.


Dynamic Labels and Annotation Feature Classes are the two means to label features on incident maps. Each has pros and cons that must be weighed when selecting which to use under different circumstances.

Dynamic Labeling requires no setup, little maintenance, and adjusts automatically to scale, but does not allow much control over where the labels are placed. Annotation features are the reverse, they require creation, and maintenance at each scale needed, but allow for complete control of label placement.

Best practices for labeling are included in most product documentation, but generally dynamic labels are used until features become too numerous or crowded, at which point annotation should be created.

For labeling strategies on Multipage Maps, see the Multipage (Tiled) Maps Master Project page.

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