Excel Tutorial: How To Map In Excel


When it comes to working with data in Excel, mapping is an essential skill to have. Mapping in Excel refers to the process of visually representing data on a geographic map. This can be especially useful for analyzing sales data, customer distribution, or any other information that has a geographic component. The importance of mapping in data visualization cannot be overstated. It allows you to identify trends, patterns, and relationships that may not be immediately apparent when looking at rows and columns of numbers.

Key Takeaways

  • Mapping in Excel is essential for visually representing geographic data in data visualization.
  • Using the "Map Chart" feature and geographic data helps in understanding the basics of mapping in Excel.
  • Customizing map features and utilizing advanced mapping tools can enhance data visualization and analysis.
  • Ensuring data accuracy and incorporating interactive elements are important for effective data mapping.
  • Choosing the right platform for sharing and incorporating maps in presentations and reports are best practices for presenting mapped data.

Understanding the basics of mapping in excel

Mapping in Excel involves visualizing data on a geographical map to identify trends and patterns. It is particularly useful for businesses and organizations that have location-specific data and want to gain insights from it. There are two primary methods for mapping in Excel: using geographic data and utilizing the "Map Chart" feature.

A. Using geographic data
  • What is geographic data? Geographic data refers to information that is tied to specific geographic locations, such as addresses, postal codes, or coordinates.
  • How to use geographic data in Excel: Excel allows users to plot geographic data on a map by using the "Geographic Mapping" feature. This enables users to create maps based on the location data in their spreadsheets.

B. Utilizing the "Map Chart" feature in excel
  • Introduction to the "Map Chart" feature: The "Map Chart" feature in Excel allows users to create interactive maps with their data. It is a built-in feature that is available in newer versions of Excel.
  • How to create a map chart: Users can select their data, including location and numerical values, and then use the "Map Chart" feature to generate a map based on the data. This makes it easy to visualize and analyze data geographically.

Formatting and customizing your map

When working with maps in Excel, it's important to be able to format and customize them to best display your data. This can involve choosing the right map projection, adding and editing data series, and customizing colors and legends.

A. Choosing the right map projection
  • Understanding map projections

    Map projections are the different ways of representing the curved surface of the earth on a flat map. It's important to choose the right map projection based on the purpose of your map and the location you're depicting.

  • Implementing the chosen projection

    Excel offers a range of map projections that you can use to best represent your data. Once you've chosen a projection, you can apply it to your map to accurately display the geographical information.

B. Adding and editing data series
  • Importing data

    To create a map in Excel, you'll need to import the geographical and numerical data that you want to visualize. This can involve adding data from external sources or inputting it manually.

  • Editing and formatting data series

    Once your data is in Excel, you can edit and format it to best suit your map. This can involve categorizing data, adjusting values, or adding additional information to your data series.

C. Customizing colors and legends
  • Color-coding data

    Using color to represent different data points on your map can help to make the information more visually appealing and easier to interpret. You can customize the colors to best represent the data you're visualizing.

  • Creating and editing legends

    A map legend is an important part of the map that explains the colors and symbols used to represent data. You can customize and format the legend to clearly communicate the information displayed on your map.

Utilizing advanced mapping features

Excel offers a range of advanced mapping features that allow you to create dynamic and impactful visualizations of your data. By using these features, you can gain deeper insights into your data and communicate those insights effectively to others.

A. Using 3D maps
  • Visualizing data in a new dimension

    3D maps in Excel allow you to plot data on a three-dimensional globe, providing a unique perspective on geographical data. This feature is especially useful for representing data that spans across different locations.
  • Interactive navigation

    With 3D maps, you can zoom in and out, rotate the globe, and tilt the map to view it from different angles. This interactive navigation capability enables you to explore your data in a more immersive way.
  • Highlighting data through color and height

    You can use color and height variations to represent different data points on the map, making it easier to identify patterns and trends in your data.

B. Incorporating time-based data
  • Animating data over time

    Excel allows you to incorporate time-based data into your maps, enabling you to create animations that show how your data evolves over different time periods. This feature is particularly useful for tracking changes and trends over time.
  • Customizing time intervals

    You can customize the time intervals for your animations, choosing to display data by day, month, year, or any other time unit that suits your analysis.
  • Creating compelling storytelling

    By animating your maps with time-based data, you can effectively tell a story about your data, making it easier for your audience to understand the progression and significance of the information.

C. Adding custom map labels
  • Enhancing readability

    With custom map labels, you can add specific names, titles, or descriptions to your data points on the map, making it easier for viewers to understand the context of each location.
  • Personalizing visualizations

    By adding custom map labels, you can personalize your visualizations and tailor them to the specific needs of your audience, providing them with relevant information and insights.
  • Improving data interpretation

    Custom map labels can help clarify the meaning of data points on the map, reducing any potential confusion and improving the overall interpretation of the information.

Tips for effective data mapping

When it comes to data mapping in Excel, there are several key considerations to keep in mind to ensure accuracy and effectiveness. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your data mapping efforts:

A. Ensuring data accuracy
  • Use consistent naming conventions:

    Make sure that your data is labeled consistently across all spreadsheets and tables to avoid confusion and errors.
  • Verify data inputs:

    Double-check the accuracy of the data you are mapping to ensure that there are no typos or mistakes that could skew your results.

B. Using proper visualization techniques
  • Utilize charts and graphs:

    Visual representations of your data can help to identify patterns and trends more easily than raw numbers and text.
  • Choose the right chart type:

    Select the most appropriate chart or graph type based on the nature of your data and the insights you want to convey.

C. Incorporating interactive elements
  • Utilize filters and slicers:

    Incorporating interactive elements such as filters and slicers can make it easier for users to analyze and manipulate the data mapped in Excel.
  • Create dynamic dashboards:

    Build dynamic dashboards that allow users to interact with the mapped data and gain insights in a more user-friendly way.

Best practices for presenting mapped data

When it comes to presenting mapped data in Excel, there are certain best practices to keep in mind in order to effectively convey the information to your audience. Here are some key points to consider:

A. Choosing the right platform for sharing
  • Consider the audience

    Before deciding on a platform for sharing mapped data, it's important to consider the audience and their level of technical proficiency. If your audience is more comfortable with Excel, then sharing the mapped data within an Excel file may be the best option. However, if the audience is more familiar with other presentation tools such as PowerPoint, it may be more appropriate to incorporate the mapped data into a slide deck.

  • Utilize interactive mapping tools

    For a more engaging and dynamic presentation of mapped data, consider using interactive mapping tools such as Google Maps or Tableau. These platforms allow for a more immersive experience for the audience, allowing them to interact with the data and gain a deeper understanding of the information being presented.

  • Accessibility

    Ensure that the platform you choose for sharing mapped data is accessible to all members of your audience. If using a specialized mapping tool, make sure that it is compatible with various devices and operating systems to accommodate a wide range of users.

B. Incorporating maps in presentations and reports
  • Choose the right type of map

    When incorporating maps into presentations and reports, it's important to choose the right type of map that effectively communicates the data. Consider using heat maps for highlighting density or distribution, choropleth maps for visualizing geographic data, or pin maps for showcasing specific locations.

  • Keep it simple

    When presenting mapped data, avoid cluttering the map with excessive information or unnecessary details. Keep the design clean and simple to ensure that the audience can easily interpret the information being presented.

  • Provide context

    Accompany the mapped data with context and explanations to help the audience understand the significance of the information being presented. Use labels, legends, and annotations to provide additional detail and clarity.


In conclusion, mapping in Excel is a powerful tool for visualizing and analyzing data. By following the steps outlined in this tutorial, you can easily create customized maps to gain valuable insights from your data. Whether you are tracking sales territories, demographics, or any other location-based data, mapping in Excel can enhance your data analysis and help you make informed decisions.

So, don't hesitate to start using mapping in Excel for your data analysis and visualization needs. With a little practice, you'll be able to create impactful and informative maps that will take your data analysis to the next level.

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