On Tuesday I showed how the Accordance Bible Atlas lets you create custom maps that give you the exact information you need, even when it would not be found on most standard maps. By combining layers and searching for specific locations, I was able to create this map which shows the portion of Dan’s tribal allotment which was actually controlled by the Philistines.


All this flexibility does have a downside, one which was pointed out in the comments on that post:

What I wish for is a way to reposition names of places so that they do not overlap. In your maps above the country names overwrite the city names. I can’t use these maps straight from Accordance for presentations without removing all of the map names and adding my own non-overlapping names.

Look at the map above and you’ll see the problem. See how the labels for Dan, Judah, and Simeon all clash with the labels for sites in those regions? If we just gave you a series of pre-drawn maps, we would be sure to design the maps so that no labels overlap. In fact, within each individual layer, we did our best to avoid label clashes even as you zoom in and out. But since you can combine layers in an endless number of ways, there was simply no way we could completely prevent overlapping labels.

So let’s say I’m writing a book on the Samson story and I want to be able to include this map in my book? I can’t very well have these conflicting labels appear there, so I need a way to clean them up.

Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to do. First, we can try tweaking the site layer to avoid the conflict. The site layer I’m using on this map is Major Biblical Sites, and I can see what its various settings are by choosing Define Site Layers… from the Site layer pop-up menu. In the dialog box that appears, be sure to select the specific layer you want to modify in the list at the top left. Here are the settings I had for the Major Biblical Sites layer:


As you can see, this layer shows sites from every Biblical period which have an importance rating of 3, 4, or 5. That’s a lot of sites, including some sites which had different names during different periods. By simply unchecking the 3 on the Importance scale so that only the most important sites appear, my map now looks like this:


As you can see, this simple change immediately eliminated the sites which overlapped with the labels for Dan and Judah. The only conflict which remains is with the label for Simeon. I’ll show you how to deal with that in my next post.