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Top 5 Tips for Styling Published Layers and Maps


Styling is a crucial aspect of mapmaking, as it enhances the visual appeal and clarity of your maps. By effectively styling your layers and maps, you can ensure that your audience can easily interpret and understand the information you're presenting. Here are five essential tips to help you achieve stunning and informative maps:

1. Choose the Right Symbology

The type of symbology you use will significantly impact the appearance and effectiveness of your map. Consider the following factors when selecting symbology:

  • Nature of the Data: The symbology should reflect the nature of the data you're visualizing. For example, quantitative data may be best represented using graduated colors, while qualitative data may be better suited for unique symbols.
  • Purpose of the Map: The symbology should align with the purpose of the map. If the map is intended to highlight patterns or trends, choose a symbology that emphasizes differences. If the map is intended to provide a general overview of data, use a symbology that emphasizes similarities.
  • Audience: Consider your audience when choosing symbology. Use colors and symbols that are easily distinguishable and avoid using patterns or textures that may be difficult to interpret.

2. Pay Attention to Color

Color is a powerful tool for communicating information on maps. Use color effectively by:

  • Choosing Meaningful Colors: Assign colors to features based on their attributes or values. For example, use green to represent vegetation or blue to represent water bodies.
  • Using Color Schemes: Use color schemes to create a cohesive and visually appealing map. Consider using complementary colors or monochromatic schemes.
  • Avoiding Color Overload: Limit the number of colors used to avoid creating a cluttered and distracting map.

3. Leverage Layer Styling

ArcGIS Online provides a wide range of layer styling options. Utilize these options to enhance the presentation of your data:

  • Adjust Transparency: Adjust the transparency of layers to reveal underlying features or highlight specific areas of interest.
  • Apply Effects: Add effects such as drop shadows or glows to give your layers a more dynamic and visually appealing appearance.
  • Control Visibility: Use the visibility settings to control which layers are displayed on the map. This allows you to focus on specific features or layers as needed.

4. Fine-tune Map Properties

The overall appearance of your map can be influenced by its properties:

  • Map Background: Customize the map background color or image to create a visually appealing backdrop for your data.
  • Legends and Labels: Adjust the legend and label settings to ensure they are clear and easy to read.
  • Layout and Scale: Use the layout and scale features to control the size and orientation of your map.

5. Optimize for Sharing

When you share your maps and layers with others, ensure they are optimized for accessibility and readability:

  • Export in High-Quality Formats: Export your maps in high-resolution formats such as PDF or PNG to maintain their visual quality.
  • Enable Pop-ups: Configure pop-ups to provide additional information about features on the map, making it more interactive for users.
  • Make Maps Responsive: Use responsive design techniques to make your maps viewable and usable on any device.

By following these tips, you can effectively style your published layers and maps, creating visually appealing and informative cartographic representations of your data. Remember to experiment with different styling options and seek feedback from others to continually improve the clarity and impact of your maps.

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