How to make your own local community maps with Datawrapper

Introduction

Recently, I wrote about using Datawrapper for creating choropleth maps. Hopefully, you had a chance to look around Datawrapper and see some of the other cool graphs and charts that could be made. All for free.

Another request from teachers and students was to be able to make maps about their local area. There is another map in Datawrapper that can help accomplish parts of the following C3 Framework Standards:

D2.Geo.1.3-5. Construct maps and other graphic representations of both familiar and unfamiliar places.
D2.Geo.2.3-5. Use maps, satellite images, photographs, and other representations to explain relationships between the locations of places and regions and their environmental characteristics.

Video

I’ve created a video that explains how to walk through the process. You can watch the video for yourself and you can also share it with your students. This, along with the handout, makes planning for this lesson very easy. There is very little for you to do besides printing out the guide or sharing the video link with your students.

Directions

Time needed: 15 minutes.

How to make a locator map with Datawrapper

  1. Getting started

    In your web browser go to datawrapper.de. Click on the start creating button and it’ll open up a new window.Datawrapper.de Website

  2. Choosing a map

    At the top of the page click on new map. From there, we have three choices. We are going to use the locator map.

  3. Adding Locations

    Let’s add our items to the map. Think of the search bar as being like using Google maps. Look at the search bar and start typing your location. If it is a well-known location you can try to type it in. You’ll see it starting to think about it. Once the menu pops up, if you find the one you want, you can go ahead and click directly on the one that you want and it will automatically add a marker to your map and zoom in to that location.Adding locations with datawrapper

  4. Customize markers

    Let’s go ahead and customize our marker. We might not need all of this information. You can erase the address and leave just the title. There are lots of presets that we can use if we want to highlight our location. If you click on the symbol you can change what the symbol looks like. This will become helpful when you create a legend later on.Customize Symbols in Datawrapper

  5. Changing fonts

    When you click on more options you can adjust the font size and the color of the font. You can make it bold or italics, make it all capital or even change letter spacing. You can outline it with different colors if you like. Then, you can put a box around the words, a rounded box, or have just the text.
    Changing Marker Text and Color

  6. Connector Lines

    You can also choose to draw a line between the marker and a text. There are different arrows to choose from and different line types. You can also decide how far away you want your line to be.
    Adding Marker Lines to Symbols

  7. Finding locations that don’t show in search

    Sometimes, you’re typing something and it might not show up on your map when you type it in. If this is the case, you can find the address in Google maps and type in the direct address. Then your item should appear.address search in datawrapper

  8. Map Styles

    Once you have added all of your locations, go down to the proceed button at the bottom of the screen. This will take you to the map style section. There are several options to choose from. You can change to an earth view, a gray view, a maritime view.Map Style Types - earth, gray, maritime

  9. 3D buildings and tilt

    When your map is complete, there are some other neat things you can do like tilting and rotating. As you start tilting and then zoom in on areas that have buildings, you’ll see how the 3-D buildings show up. Depending on the type of map that you want to have this to be really useful.3D buildings in Datawrapper toggle on or off

  10. Rotating your map

    The rotate button allows you to get the exact view that you would like to have. You’ll get a completely different view depending on how you rotate and how you zoom. Make sure you take the time to align it so that you include all of the parts that you like on your map.
    Rotating and tilting options are below the map

  11. Map Extras

    Another neat feature is the map extras. Here you can add a scale bar, a north arrow, and an inset map depending on your location.
    Map Extras

  12. Add a title and description

    Next is the title section. Choose an appropriate title for your map and add a description with more details. You can add your name in the byline.
    Add a title and description to datawrapper maps

  13. Add a map key or legend

    If you would like to add a key or legend for your map, in the add key for marker section click on show key. Here you’ll get options for all of your markers. You’ll see them automatically in your map. In the section below you can click and then assign each marker a name. As you assign the markers the names they will show up in your map. When you are done adding your markers at the bottom of the page click on proceed.
    adding a legend

  14. Saving your work

    From here you can decide to send an email to yourself with a picture, or you can also just take a screenshot of your map and save it that way. When you have the screenshot you’re able to upload this to another website or use it in a slide deck or however you would like to choose to use it on your own.
    Publish your work by getting an email or taking a screenshot of your map.

Conclusion

You can find a free teacher and student guide for creating location maps just below this article.

I hope you found the tutorial helpful. If you would like to know more about how to make choropleth maps in Datawrapper, you can check out my article here and also get the free download guide for teachers and students.

I would love to see what kind of maps you created. You can follow me on Instagram @smithvisualizations, or you can follow me @smithrchris. I hope to see your maps soon. Good luck!

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