geospatial GIS mapping maps

Update symbology, labels, etc across multiple mxd files?

Apologies in advance if this is simple, I’m relatively new to ArcGIS…

In any given project, I will have several maps, all with a common set of basemap layers.  From time to time, throughout the life of a project, clients tend to request that we change font sizes, colours, line widths, etc.  The problem is that it seems like there is no way for an mxd file to reference style information.  That is, I want a way to store style information outside of mxd files, so all my mxd files for the different maps point to the same style information. 

When I add a layer file to a map, it just imports all the contents of the layer file into the mxd file.  It doesn’t point to the layer file.  That is, if I later change the layer file, there’s no way to tell the mxd file to also update.

It’s the same problem with styles and the style manager.  If I change a style, the layers that use that style don’t also update.

It also appears to be the same with template mxd files.  That is, they are just a starting point and the resulting mxd file makes no reference to the template.

Am I missing something?  or am I stuck having to update 20 – 30 mxd files every time a client decids they want something like the street labels to appear slightly larger?


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