1. Choose a basemap
Maps can do meaningful things, such as tell a story, present an idea, or showcase a situation. To create a meaningful map, choose a basemap and layers that have good cartography, work at multiple scales, draw quickly, contain informative and accurate information, target a specific audience, and include visible legends if the symbology is not intuitive.
2. Add layers
Layers are the contents of the map. They can include topics related to people, Earth, life, imagery, and so on. You can add one layer or multiple layers. By bringing together multiple layers, or data sources, into a map, you can tell a more interesting story. Be careful, however, that you don’t add too many things to one map and make it hard to read. Search for and add layers from your content or organization, or browse layers from ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Living Atlas.
3. Apply styles
Geographic data can be styled in many ways on a map. When you want to change the way a layer is styled, you are presented with various ways to style the data along with options for each choice. The available choices change based on the data. You can choose different symbols to represent the features you've added to the map. For example, water bodies and streams might be shown with a single, constant blue color, while roads might be symbolized based on road class. Additionally, you can use smart mapping styles such as dot density to find more meaning in the data. You can style imagery layers using various colors, gradients, or classification methods. For example, elevation data can be symbolized using a black-to-white color scheme, or it can be classified into ranges.
4. Configure pop-ups
Pop-ups describe the attributes associated with each layer in the map, such as hiking trails, land cover types, or unemployment rates. Pop-ups can include attachments, images, charts, and text, and they can link to external web pages. The default pop-up appearance for a feature layer is a list of attributes and values. The default pop-up appearance for an imagery layer is the pixel values. You can configure the pop-ups to define the list of visible and hidden fields and how that information is presented. For example, you can show a list of attributes or provide an interactive experience for visualizing and comparing features in a particular layer by providing custom-formatted text, images, and charts. Additionally, you can use ArcGIS Arcade expressions to further customize how the pop-ups appear.
5. Save the map
After you create a map, you can save the map as an item on the My Content tab of the content page.
Now that you have a basic map, you can refine it by setting map properties, adding bookmarks, and setting transparency. Depending on your sharing privileges, you can share the map with groups, your organization, and the public.
Play the mapping basics video for tips on how to get started in Map Viewer.
Try the Learn ArcGIS lesson Create a policy map to address health conditions to learn more about creating maps.