How to Create a Map Chart

What is a Map Chart

A Map Chart is a great tool to visualize location-based data. It is the easiest way to compare values and see categories across geographical regions.

This is an example of a Map Chart:

The density of the colors has its own indications. The darker the color, the larger the data size for that region. Hence, there is a direct correlation between the color and the data layer; i.e. denser the color, more data points.

Examples of data sets for using a Map Chart

  1. World Population
  2. Cost of doing business
  3. Clientele base or sales by location
  4. Business opportunities by location
  5. Social Media Engagement

How to create a Map Chart

I’ll use Chartio to create a map chart. Chartio is a cloud-based software tool that offers business intelligence solutions. It is one of the most powerful data visualization software that simplifies analysis for you with its easy-to-use and easy-to-follow interface.  You can follow along with the steps below. We are using Chartio Demo Source data set.

The Map Chart in Chartio requires the data set to be in a required format of two columns; first being the location and second being a numeric column.

  1. On the Explore page, expand Users. Drag & drop User Id to Measures and rename the label as Users. Click Ok.
  2. Now drag & drop State to Dimensions and Run query by selecting Table from the chart options on the display screen to the right.
  3. As our data set is in the required format, select Map from the chart options. Based on the location inputs, Chartio will automatically guess the map type. Here, you will see a US map on the screen because the locations are US based.
  4. Your map chart is ready! Title the Map Chart using the input tab above. To manually change the color, or map type, click the Settings tab above the map. Chartio gives you the option of following maps:
    • World map by country
    • US map by state
    • Europe by country
    • Africa by country
    • Australia by state & New Zealand (state abbreviations only)

Read more about this here

Apart from the map style we created using Chartio, there are other types of map charts that can be created using other visualization tools. For example, proportional symbol maps, origin-destination maps, point distribution maps, path maps, and filled maps.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is it different from Bubble Map Chart?

While they both serve the same purpose of visualizing data on a map, a Bubble Map Chart can be used to be more specific about a certain location. A Map Chart, on the other hand, is typically seen to cover a whole region.

For example, bubble map chart can be used to depict the population of a city whereas a map chart can be used to show the population of a state/country.

How is it different from a Heat Map?

A Heat Map is used to visualize data in a tabular format while a Map Chart is used to visualize data on geographical maps. The data used for a Heat Map is generally non-geographical data which is completely opposite of the data used for Map Charts; pure geographical.

Tips for optimizing a Map Chart

  • Use solid shades of colors to better interpret the data; using patterns or cross-hatching can be visually confusing to understand (Map Chart hues are also great for color blind people who can interpret the data with ease)
  • Create a map chart only if the location/geography is relevant to the interpretation
  • Have multiple map charts to compare different conditions or visualizing change over time

A Map Chart is a powerful tool to analyze massive amounts of demographic and geographical information. It is very effective for businesses with a nation-wide or a global presence to understand business activities effortlessly.   

About Gargi Shirish Joshi

Hello readers! I am from India, currently studying dual masters in international business and business analytics from Hult International Business School in San Francisco. I am passionate about numbers/data and hence working with Chartio as a content marketing intern for data analysis at Data School. Keep learning!