The Maps Tutorial

The primary function of the Maps page is to easily display data at various geographies, but PolicyMap gives our users a variety of unique features on the page. First, log into your account to save and print your maps and tables. Registration is free. Subscribers or trial users need to login to see custom subscription features and licensed datasets.

The map is fully interactive, so users can zoom in and out by using the zoom bar (or double clicking the left/right mouse button), pan around the map by clicking and dragging the map, or click onto the map to open a bubble with more information.

Searching the Map (Learn more about the Search Bar here) – To start, you should specify a location. The search bar allows you to quickly find and position the map to different locations. Similar to most online mapping tools, you can search for locations by an address, a type of geography (e.g. zip code, city, county, or state), or use the drop down menu on the left to search for census tracts, congressional districts, school districts, state legislative boundaries, or metro areas.

Adding Data – PolicyMap gives you an innovative and easy way to view data through thematic maps. To add data, select a category from the categories above the map, drill down the menu or sub-menu and select the data layer. We have thousands of data layers to choose and you can learn more about each data layer on our website at the Our Data tab (

The data menu is broken into four sections; Data Layers, Data Points, Subscriber Shared Data, and PolicyMap Suggestions.

1. Data Layers – are datasets shown as thematic or “heat” maps; shaded areas in a darker color represent the higher concentration or amount or percentage, anything in a lighter shade is the opposite of the range.2. Data Points – are point or address level datasets, displaying icons for each address. Point datasets will have unique filtering and coloring coding options.3. Subscriber Shared Data – are point datasets created by users utilizing the Data Loader and shared with all PolicyMap users.4. PolicyMap Suggestions – are links relevant to the category including; blog articles related to the category, similar datasets, or the ability to suggest new datasets to PolicyMap.

Data Layers show data as thematic maps with values aggregated to various shaded areas or geographies; areas in a darker color usually represent the higher concentration/amount/percentage, and lighter colors represent the opposite of the range.

Data Layer Legend (Learn more about the Legend here) – When a data layer is added, the Legend will display specific information about the current data layer (e.g. Year, Variable, Range Values, etc) and the values for each color on the map. The Legend also gives you the ability to fully customize the map by changing the year, how the data is displayed, or making your own custom shaded ranges.


  • Years – Depending on the data layer added, you can toggle between available years, quarters, and months. Some years are only available to subscribers and trial users.
  • Variables – Changing the variable will change how the data is displayed on the map. You can toggle between different variables, including the number, currency, percent, or even the change across years.
  • Shade by – PolicyMap displays data at different geography levels; the zoom level determines what geography the map is shaded by. The shade by pull down menu gives you the ability to change the geography at which the current data layer is shaded.
  • Movable legends – Legends can be dragged to any location on the map. Select the bar on top or anywhere within of the legend and then drag.

Collapsible legends – On top of the legend are options to collapse the legend, the (–) symbol on the right will minimize the legend, which will be replaced by an (+) to maximize the legend.

(Maximized) Legend-Header(Minimized) Legend-HeaderCollapsed

Map Features – After selecting and loading a data layer, users can click onto the map to open the “Info Bubble” which will give the value for the geography selected, as well as the values for the locations the geography sits within. This geography will also be highlighted with an orange boundary on the map.

The title for the data layer will appear above the map. The star icon to the left of the Map Title will mark this data layer as a favorite which will display in your My Data tab. For more information about any data layer, click the map title to display the data description.

Data Points (Learn more about Data Points here) – Data Points allows you to view point datasets, like addresses, on the map. You can view these points by themselves or on top of a Data Layer. Subscribers and trial users can add datasets which they have loaded using the Data Loader tool from their My Data tabe. Once a dataset is loaded, click on any point to display information about that site in the info bubble.

PointsLegendData Points Legend After loading a point dataset, users can use the legend to filter points on the map or search.

  • Add multiple point datasets to you map: Simply click on each one you wish to add from the menu.
  • Filter datasets: To use the filter option, simply select the filer from the menu in the legend You can apply multiple filters to any dataset.
  • You can remove any site dataset or a filter(s) by clicking X symbol in the legend.

Map Boundaries – Users can overlap any of the pre-define boundaries used in PolicyMap by using the Map Boundaries option on the bottom of the map.

Print2Print, Save, Email, etc. – The icons on the top left of the map will allow users to save and share their maps. When you have a map with your location, data layer, adjustments from the legend, and any sites added, you can save and print your work. All printed maps, tables, and reports will store a copy in your My PolicyMap, allowing you to log into your account at any time and download a copy or reopen a saved copy.

Subscribers and trial users have the ability to draw custom boundaries on the map using the Build Custom Region feature. Custom regions can then be used to show the unique area someone is working in, and also download data for that area in Tables or generate a unique Report.

Be sure to check the links for each unique feature in the tutorial. We’ve highlighted them on this overview, but each link will describe more information and functionality. If you have any questions or want to lean more, visit our training calendar and attend a free session or contact us at any time.

To read a full guide on all features on PolicyMap, please look at our Primer available here