GIS and the Components of a map

Making a map in 15 minutes

Terms to know:

Layout, Data Views
Spatial Bookmarks
Parts of the Map:

  • Base map
  • Graticule
  • Neatline
  • Legend
  • Scalebar
  • Thematic data

What are Templates?

Reusable base maps that:

  • Contain static elements
  • Speed up map creation
  • Stored in .mxt file
  • Useful for map series
  • Standardize layouts
  • Can be shared


Creating a Template

Start ArcMap. You can open a map made earlier, a template, or a blank map (has no data).

Go to File|New

Notice Document vs. Template choice, bottom left.

Select “Document”

Also notice browse option, bottom right. We will create a new document by browsing.

Browse to the data directory: /Template/custom.mxt

The New Dialog box

Q1. What is the difference between a "template" and a "document"?

Click the Source tab, bottom left and verify that the data for the Asia layer come from the /Data/Template directory.


Click back on Display tab, bottom left.

This is a base map. It contains country outlines, graticule, neatline and a scalebar.

It does not contain any thematic data.

Q2. What does the Source tab tell you?

Q3. What is the difference between a "base map" and "thematic data"?


We'll add some thematic data...a typhoon near the Philippines!


Use a spatial bookmark to zoom in to the islands:


Before going further, save the map as [your_name].mxd into YOUR directory!

For example: "Crampton.mxd"

Now add the typhoon data at /data/data/etang.shp

This is a shapefile, or basic spatial dataset

Q4. What is a "spatial bookmark"?

Q5. What is the difference between ".mxt" and ".mxd"?

Q6. What is the scale of the map after you have zoomed in to the spatial bookmark Phillippines?

Now change the following elements

Title. Change from "Asia" to "Path of Typhoon Etang" and font size of 24. Right click on title when done, and select Nudge to move around slightly.



Legend. The map's legend, corresponding to the Table of Contents, shows two categories: Other and Asia. For this map, a more meaningful distinction would be: Other and Philippines.

Changing the symbology for the Countries layer will update the legend automatically.

In the Table of Contents, double-click the Countries layer to open the Layer Properties dialog. Click the Symbology tab.

From the Value Field dropdown list, choose CNTRY_NAME.

Click Add Values.

In the Add Values dialog, click Complete List, then scroll down and choose Philippines.

Click OK to return to the Layer Properties dialog.
The countries are gray, but the Philippines is a unique color. Regardless of the color assigned to the Philippines, you will now change it.

Double-click the color symbol for the Philippines. The Symbol Selector dialog appears.

Click the Fill Color square and click Tecate Dust (4th column from left, 4 up)

Click on CNTRY_NAME and delete it so it doesn't show up on the legend.

Click OK


Q7. What is the "Table of Contents"?

Q8. What does the Legend do when you change colors in the Table of Contents?

Graticule. The graticule shows lines of latitude and longitude at ten-degree intervals. At the current map scale, these lines are too widely spaced. You will change the interval to five degrees.

In the Table of Contents, double-click the data frame name (Asia).

In the Data Frame Properties dialog, click the Grids tab. The Graticule box is checked, which tells you the graticule is turned on.

Click Properties. Click the Intervals tab, if necessary.

Change the X Axis Interval from 10 to 5. Change the Y Axis Interval from 10 to 5.

Click OK on the Reference System Properties dialog. Click OK on the Data Frame Properties dialog.

Click on an empty place to unselect the data frame.

If necessary, hit the Refresh button

Q9. What is a graticule?

Q10. What is a Data Frame?

The points are large and ugly! Change them to the typhoon symbol.

Click the colored symbol under "etang" in the Table of Contents

In More Symbols, add "Weather"

Scroll to the bottom and find the Typhoon symbol.

Adjust the symbol size until each symbol no longer overlaps.


Legend Again. Double click the Legend and uncheck Show, to get rid of the title. Or, change it to something more informative.


Improving the Display.

Draw the typhoon path on the map.

Select the "New Curve" option from the drawing tools on bottom left

Zoom in to the Typhoon area

Start by clicking on the symbol farthest to the east. Click on each symbol to draw a line connecting them. Double-click the last symbol to end the line. If you make a mistake, double-click to end the line, press the Delete key, and start again.

Right click the line and change the line color to match the typhoon point symbols

Add a Callout box, using the drawing menu.

Save your project again into your Crescent directory

Q11. Was it difficult to match the line color to the typhoon symbols? How could you guarantee to get them the same color?

Q12. What is a "Callout" box?

The finished map