Color-Coded Maps

Creating a color-coded map provides information about an area of interest. To find out more about a market, you can quickly identify important patterns in the area you are investigating by viewing information about key metrics on a map. You can visually explore demographic information, consumer spending patterns, information about business, or other market conditions on the map.


If you are not able to access the functions of this feature, you may be limited by custom roles defined by your organization and set up by your administrator. See Custom Roles for privileges and check with your administrator to set up roles specific to your work.

When creating a color-coded map, it is useful to select a location on the map. You can view a specific location such as an address or you can zoom in to an area and use different geography levels including state and county. See Navigate the map for help on changing the map background, zooming in or out, printing, and so on.

  1. From the Create Maps tab, click Color-Coded Maps.

    The Color-Coded Maps dialog box appears on the left.

Choose a variable to map

To search for variables and access the Data Browser, you can use the following options:

  • Search for a variable in the Search all variables text box
  • Use Category, Favorites, and Recent buttons
  • Browse all variables
  • Create a custom variable

Search all variables

You can search for variables by entering a variable in the Search all variables text box such as population or income.

Search all variables

Search by category, favorites or recent

Use the options to find the variables. Click on a category to access the Data Browser.

  • Category—Provides variables that are grouped in categories.
  • Favorites—Lists your favorite variables. The Favorites tab is populated by variables that you have indicated with yellow stars.
  • Recent—Access your most recent variables.

Browse all variables

Click Browse all variables.

Browse all variables

The Data Browser appears with options to search variables or browse by category. You can create a custom variable if you need a specific type, range or combination of data.

Selecting a variable using any of these options applies the variable and displays a color-coded map.

Map the Dominant Tapestry variable

Using the Data Browser, accessed through Color-Coded Maps, you can map the Dominant Tapestry variable. The Dominant Tapestry variable is useful because it provides Life Mode groups in the United States. To learn more, see Tapestry Segmentation.

With an area in the U.S., use the Data Browser to access the Dominant Tapestry variable. You can access the Dominant Tapestry variable by typing Dominant Tapestry in Search.

Search for dominant tapestry

Or selecting Tapestry in the categories from Browse all variables.

Tapestry button

Once selected, the map is color-coded and the Color-Coded Maps Legend dialog appears on the left.

Here are some options using the Color-Code Maps Legend with Dominant Tapestry:

  • Click only to show only that Life Mode on the map.
  • Uncheck the Life Mode's boxes to hide them.
  • Click on the box color to change the color. Use Reset colors to return to the default colors.
  • Click on the arrow to the left of the Life Mode group name to view the Tapestry Segments included in the group. Click the Segment name to access information about the Life Mode. You will be taken to a PDF that provides information about the people in the area, the neighborhood, and their socioeconomic traits.
  • Click Learn more to access information about Tapestry Segmentation.

Here are some options on the map:

  • Hover over a colored area for the area and segment names.
  • You can create a PDF of the map with the PDF or Image workflow.
  • To get reports, click on the colored area to access a pop up. Click Get Reports.

Legend tab

The Legend tab below shows the value ranges for the selected variable and geography on the map according to color and allows you to edit the color, edit ranges and filter the map.


You can choose the geography level for your analysis from States, Counties, ZIP Codes, Census Tracts, and Block Groups. You can use the lock to set the geography levels for your maps. By default, the map is displayed in the geography based on the zoom level and updates when zooming in or out. You can set the analysis geography by locking and unlocking geography levels by clicking on the lock icon. lock

You can use the Current Map Extent drop-down menu, which is the default, or you can select study areas on the map to filter your color-coded map to the specific area.


Small geographies are not available at all zoom levels. When zooming out, a pop-up window appears to indicate that the selected geography can't be viewed at this scale. You must zoom in to make the geography visible.

Edit color

To change the colors in the legend, click the color thumbnail. A color picker appears.

Click a color and the map changes.


You can use the Reverse Colors button Reverse colors to reverse the selected color ramp.

To keep the category ranges the same as you pan the map, click Lock ranges while panning. This allows you to compare different locations using the same ranges.


You can filter the view of the map for the variable you have chosen. This allows you to highlight specific values visually on the map. For example, when viewing the population by age in a block group, you can create a filter by selecting greater than and entering a value of 5,000. The map will only show color-shaded block groups where the population by age is more than 5,000 people.

  1. Click Filter.
    Variables in filter
  2. Move the sliders to filter the map.

    The map is automatically updated.

  3. Click Save.

Edit ranges

You can edit the ranges for the variable you have chosen. This allows you to change the ranges to provide more details for your point. For example, if you are interested in a specific age group, you can expand the range to provide more data for that variable.

  1. On the Legend tab, click Edit.

    The selected variable data appears in a graph format.

    Variables appear in graph format.

    To edit the ranges, you can move the handles and enter new numbers or percentages.

  2. Once your edits are made, click Save.

    The changes are reflected on the Legend tab and on the map.

Style tab

The Style tab allows you to modify the color-coded map display. You can change the style theme, color, method, classes, transparency, border, and labels. Changes made will appear immediately on the map.

The Style tab has 7 map style options.

Style options
  • Counts and Amounts (Color): This is the default map style, which distinguishes features based on a color ramp. It is a good style for showing low to high numeric data values such as age, income, or ratio. Learn more.
  • Counts and Amounts (Size): This map style uses an orderable sequence of different sizes to represent your data, using an intuitive logic that larger symbols equate to larger numbers. For example, you could use proportional symbols to show the total population of cities. Learn more.
  • Color & Size: With this map style, you choose two attributes in your data and finalize both the color and the size of point symbols on your map. Or, you can use the same attribute twice: to set the size of the symbols, and to set the colors, based on the part of the data you want to emphasize. This is a good style to use when you want to show count information such as the total population shaded by a variable such as the population density. Learn more.
  • Bivariate: Choose two attributes in your data, and a single grid color ramp to classify both attributes on the map. For example, if Total Population and Per Capita Income are the selected attributes, the features that have values in the lowest classes for both attributes will be represented on the map with the bottom left color from the color grid selected in the Colors drop-down menu.
    Bivariate style
  • Dot Density: With this style, the data is not classified. Instead, the variable value is represented as a collection of equally sized dots within each polygon on the map. Consider the scenario where Total Population is mapped at the ZIP Code geography level: the number of dots displayed within each ZIP Code will be in proportion to its population, with each dot representing the same number of people (the Dot value). To achieve a desired density and distribution for the data, you can change the Size, and Density or Dot value. The Density and Dot value controls are not independent but are inversely related to each other: lowering the Density will proportionately increase the Dot value, and vice versa. By default, the Dot value dynamically changes when the map extent is changed. Clicking on the lock icon will keep the current dot value and prevent it from changing, as long as the density does not change, and that dot value is supported at the modified map extent.

    Dot Density dialog
    The appearance can be customized by changing the dot color, and you can also change the map's background color, transparency and geography level border color.


    Since the data is not classified, the Theme, Method, and Classes controls are not available with the Dot Density style.

  • Dot Density with Color-Coded Map: With this style, you choose two attributes in your data and finalize the settings for dot density of the first attribute, and color ramp to classify the other attribute in the background. Or, you can use the same attribute twice: represented as a collection of equally sized dots in the foreground and classified with the color ramp in the background. This is a good style to use when you want to show count information such as the total population shaded by a color classified background variable such as per capita income. To do so, you will select Total Population as the Attribute under the Dot Density tab, and the Per Capita Income as the Attribute under the Background tab.
    Dot Density with Color-Coded Map dialog
  • Dot Density with Colored Dots: Choose two attributes in your data to be represented as a collection of equally sized dots. You finalize the settings for dot density, which represents the first attribute, and the color ramp for the dot color, which represents the second attribute. Or, you can use the same attribute twice, classified by both dot density and dot color. This is a good style to use when you want to use dots to show count information such as the total population, shaded by a color classified variable such as per capita income. To do so, you will select Total Population as the Attribute under the Dot Density tab, and the Per Capita Income as the Attribute under the Color tab. For the best visualization experience, set the basemap to Dark Gray Canvas, and select a color ramp with no grays.
    Colored dots style

Counts and Amounts (Size) and Color & Size styles use the symbol size as a way to show the variation in values of the selected variable. Therefore, while you may use the symbol drop-down to modify the symbol and its color, the Size slider there is disabled, and instead you may use the sliders on the Size ramp to set the minimum and maximum size range for the symbol.

Size slider is disabled


The Theme drop-down is enabled for the Counts and Amounts (Color) and Color & Size map styles only. The following themes are available, although not all of them are available for both map styles. You may choose a theme more suitable for mapping the distribution of values across the range of the selected variable.

  • Default colors: Uses a color ramp that highlights the contrast between areas on the map with high and low values of the variable. This is the default selection.
  • High to Low: Applies a color ramp with a continuous gradient of a single color, and may be a suitable choice for mapping certain variables— for example, population density.
  • Above and Below: Uses a color ramp that applies two distinctive color gradients to the values above and below a value like zero, or the average. This may be a suitable choice for mapping a variable such as population growth rate, to distinctly highlight areas where the population is increasing (growth rate above zero) and declining.
  • Centered On: Adds transparency to the outliers in the data to visually highlight the values within +/- 1 standard deviation of the mean of all the values. It may be suitable when you want to map the values at the center of the range— for example, areas with household incomes close to the mean.
  • Extremes: Does the opposite of the Centered On theme, by applying focus to the tail ends of the range— that is, the values outside +/- 1 standard deviation of the mean. It may be suitable when the values at the extremes are of interest— for example, when mapping variables pertaining to poverty levels or crime.


The Colors drop-down menu allows you to select from a palette of colors for viewing the results from the variable in your map.

  1. To change the colors, click the Colors drop-down menu and the color choices appear.
    Select your colors
  2. Click the color you want to view in your map.


Quantile provides classes with the same number of features. This is useful for data that is evenly distributed where you want to emphasize the difference in relative position between features. For example, using the Quantile method to display Per Capita Income results in an equal number of geographies in each class or value range.

Natural breaks is a method of manual data classification that seeks to partition data into classes based on natural groups in the data distribution. Natural breaks occur in the histogram at the low points of valleys. Breaks are assigned in the order of the size of the valleys, with the largest valley being assigned the first natural break.

Equal interval creates ranges (or classes) with equal spacing on the number line between the lowest and highest values of the variable. Equal interval is useful when you want to emphasize the difference in values among geographies on the map. For example, using Equal interval to display Per Capita Income results in few geographies having the color of the highest class and more geographies change to the color of the lower value range.

Method drop-down menu


Classes allow you to select the number of breaks/ranges that appear on the map.

Move the Classes slider to select your choice.

Classes slider

For the Counts and Amounts (Size) map style, the data is not classified by default, as the variation in the value of the selected variable is conveyed by the variation in the symbol size. You may turn on classification by selecting the Classify Data checkbox and then use the slider controls to adjust the class breaks.

Classify data

For the Color & Size map style, you may select different themes to modify the number of classes and use the slider controls to adjust the class breaks. Click anywhere on the color ramp itself to choose a different one, or invert the colors.

Choosing a different theme


The Transparency slider allows you to change the transparency percentage of the map view.

  1. To change the transparency, use the Transparency slider.
    Adjust your transparency
  2. Hover the pointer over the transparency line and slide it to the left to decrease the transparency percentage or to the right to increase the transparency percentage.


Border allows you to select the color outline and thickness of the selected geography.

To change the border thickness, click the Border drop-down menu and click your choice.

Border thickness drop-down menu

To change the border color, click the Border color palette and click your color choice.


The Place and Road labels allow you to view these labels on top of the map. These are unchecked by default.

Place and Road labels

  • Click Place to see the place labels of a city, state, and so on.
  • Click Road to see road and highway labels.


The place and road labels appear above the color-coded map.

Data tab

The Data tab allows you to view the data in a table or graph.

  1. Click the Data tab.

    To view the table, click the Table button.

  2. Hover the pointer over an item in the table and the corresponding area is highlighted on the map.
    Variables appear in table format.

    To view the graph, click the Graph button.

  3. Hover the pointer over an item in the graph and the corresponding area is highlighted.

    To export the data to Excel, click Export to Excel to export the data you see on the color-coded map.

Add variable

After you have mapped one variable, you may click Add variable to map a second variable. Here we describe the workflow to do so. In this example, we begin with the 2017 Total Population already mapped at the Census Tract level, with the default color ramp and map style applied.

  1. Click Add variable and select the 2017 Population Density (Pop per square mile) in the Data Browser.
    Click Add variable

    To show both variables, the map style Color & Size is applied. The color of the symbol indicates the 2017 Total Population, while the size indicates the 2017 Population Density, making it easy to distinguish between densely populated tracts with high total population (large dark circles), sparsely populated tracts with low total population (small light colored circles), and so on.

    Note the class breaks in this legend: the lightest and darkest colors represent tracts with population under 2195, and greater than 6618 respectively:

  2. Click the Style tab.
    Click Style tab

    Color & Size is the applied map style and you may select a different option in the drop-down menu. Under the Color tab, you have the option to adjust the class breaks for the 2017 Total Population variable that you saw in the legend, by using the slider controls. You may also select a different option in the Theme drop-down menu.

  3. Click the Size tab. Under the Size tab, you can modify the appearance of the symbols as applied to the 2017 Population Density variables.
    Adjust symbol size

    By default, the size of the circle symbols varies across the full range of the Pop Density values (0 to 214459), but you may use the slider controls to change that. You may also change the minimum and maximum size of the circle symbol by adjusting the size sliders.

    For example, say you are not interested in the variation of the less densely populated areas of the map. You can click and drag the lower slider from 0 to 35386, the approximate break indicated by the histogram, under which are many of the sparsely populated tracts. Also, reduce the minimum symbol size to 3, and maximum to 35. With the changes, all tracts with pop density < 35386 are mapped with a smaller size 3 symbol, and the remaining tracts symbol size ranges from 3 to 35 (instead of 50), which makes the variation visually easier to observe.

    Adjust variable using slider

  4. Click on the Data tab.
    2017 total population by census tract

    In the table you can view the variable values for all the census tracts in your map. The first variable, 2017 Total Population is shown, but you may view the values for the other variable by changing the selection in the column header drop-down menu . You can also apply an Ascending or Descending sort order.

  5. Click Export to Excel to export the table as an Excel file.
    Export to Excel


    This will export values for both mapped variables.