Improving your legend with QGIS

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It is very easy to make a nice legend with QGIS…but it’s not that obvious. By default, the legend comes up in a box, which size cannot be changed, on one column, and each item has a layer name and different item names. There are a few options that can be changed to go from that:

Legend_QGIS-before to that  Legend_QGIS-after

In the new legend, I changed the fonts and title, wrapped up the text, removed some items, removed some layer names, and created two groups (Flood and Open spaces and Portsmouth).

1. Change the fonts

There are four text field types: title (‘Legend’, by default), group (for you to create), layer, and item names. The font style can be changed in the General tab of the legend but cannot be modified individually. These four fields are more than enough to make a workable legend.


2. Change (or remove) the title/layer/item name

It is also possible to remove the title (or layer names): simply empty the field, and the line will disapear. Otherwise enter something else than ‘Legend’ (I put Keys in mine). The font, size, and style can be changed in ‘Title Font…’ on the General tab of the legend ‘Item Properties’.

It is also possible to change the layer name, move layers, and remove layers or items, in ‘Legend items’:


3. Wrap the text

Although it is not possible to have multiple columns, it is still possible to have the text of the layer or item on multiple lines to avoid long lines of text. This is found in the tab ‘General’, last item (you have to scroll down), with ‘Wrap’. To use ‘/’, enter ‘/’ in the field and then in the tab ‘Legend items’, when you modify the layer or item name enter something like ‘Natural and semi natural/urban greenspaces’: the text will break to the next line.

4. Remove items

You can remove layers and items in the list. It is very useful if you venture in the construction of a legend with multiple columns (see future post).

5. Remove layer names

To remove layer name, as for the title, just delete the text from the ‘Item text’ and leave it blank. The line of the layer will disappear and only the items will be left.

6. Create groups

To create a group, click on ‘Add Group’: it will be added at the bottom of the list, and you can move it with the arrows.


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