You Can Label That – Map Business Online

“We can pickle that.” Says Fred Armisen in one of his many Portlandia skits. Likewise, Map Business Online users can label practically any aspect of their business map.

Labels are an important aspect of business mapping. Labels identify places, and data points on the map while providing the map viewer with geographic orientation and references to associated data – like demography.

Map Business Online provides a variety of options for label placement. Labels can be assigned to imported point locations, to individual sectors of map layers like ZIP codes or Census tracts, and to the map itself.  Map labels can be assigned to territories, drawn map objects, and even random map notes can be placed anywhere on the map.

Business mapping software makes it possible to append labels with additional data.  This data could be imported business data, demographic data, or some other metric related to your map subject, like sales information or delivery data.

Adding data to label fields is a delicate process, in one way. It’s easy enough, but we want to be smart about adding data to labels on maps.

Always remember a map is a communication tool.  Sometimes too much information detracts from a map’s ability to communicate. Only add additional data to your map when that data has relevance to the subject you are communicating.

What’s a Label?

Map Business Online provides multiple opportunities to customize the labeling of your imported business data points when mapping multiple locations. Included in these location point label features are Map Business Online’s latest capabilities associated with adjusting the Callout Tag. In general we divide location labeling into three types:

Label – These are labeling tags associated with zip code, county or state districts. For example, each state shows a state label within the state.

Callout – Callouts are label tags that popup when you mouse over an object, point, or a district
Territory Labels – Territory labels act the same as regular labels do but are associated specifically with the territories you’ve created while sales territory mapping.

All naming tags and labels in Map Business Online can be turned off and on. With regard to map layers like zip codes and states, you have the power to determine when those labels appear based on zoom level. Hover your mouse over the layer in question and click the Edit Gear. Choose the Label tag along the right side, and use the bottom function to control whether or not labels show, their size and font, and at which zoom level they appear. At each zoom level, the application will automatically decide which labels show and when labels don’t display, to control map clutter and label overlap.

Avoiding Redundant Labeling

Most business mapping software tools include a background map.  The background map includes a variety of labels. These background map labels could be vector based (adjustable and query-able), but often those background maps are a static tapestry and are not labels the map maker can control.  This is the case in Map Business Online – we offer static map background options.

I mention this because a map maker should be aware of all labeling options on their map project. The background map may identify towns.  Your map project may take advantage of those town labels on the background map and this may be good enough to orient your map viewers. However, if you are importing additional town or city labels into your map project, either from a premium Map Business Online layer or on your own, that background map may be adding unnecessary clutter.  Consider turning off the map background or adjusting map layer transparencies to tone down the background impact.

The attached video reviews the most obvious labeling options in Map Business Online.  Here’s a list of where you can adjust and append labels:

  • Map Layer Labels – State, 3 & 5-digit ZIP codes, county, Census tract, MSA, City Limit and school district. Access from Manage Map & Data edit gear
  • Imported Data Labels – Call out tags. Adjust in the import data wizard or after import through the Manage Map & Data edit gear. Users can edit Call Tag labels by formatting the Call Out or by Customizing the Dataset
  • Territory, Region and Division Labels – Adjust in the Data Window under Manage Territories and Marketing Lists; or on the map itself select the Territory name and choose the edit gear; or in Manage Map & Data select the layer edit gear
  • Map Title – Open Manage Map & Data. Click the top menu Edit Gear. Toward the bottom check the Show Map Title check box and edit the resulting map title that now shows on the map
  • Add Text to Map – Map Business Online draw layer options include a Text Box you can add to the map. Click the ABC box listed in the Draw Layer drop down in the middle of the master toolbar to select the label, then click on the map where you’d like the label to be. You can easily move the placement, edit the font and color options as required
  • Drawn Polygons & Circle – Draw layers can be labeled too. Simply click the Edit Gear associate with the map object and check the Show Text box
  • Color Code by Circle – Users who choose to color code imported data by this method, see the Red and Green circle button on the master toolbar, can choose to include their numeric data within the circle as a label.

A cluttered map example. Too many Callout tags

Map Business Online Label Tips & Tricks

Callout Tags – Any points the user imports as a dataset or manually places on the map, one at a time, is a map Callout tag.  Any callout label orientation can be adjusted by clicking into the label itself and choosing the tiny Edit Gear there. A callout label can be further adjusted by clicking the Dataset layer edit gear in Manage Map & Data and choosing the Callout tab.  This is where you can:

  • Open and turn off all callouts – flood the map with labels if you want
  • Apply Compact Callouts to save space
  • Adjust flexible callout fields

Append Demographic & Imported Data to map layer (ZIP codes, State, etc.) labels by choosing the layer in Map & Data and clicking its Edit Gear. Choose Format Labels and the Auto Label options.  Now simply go through your field options 1 through 5, adding the data you’d like to add by using the drop down navigation.

The Map Legend – The legend acts as a label too. And in Map Business Online it’s entirely editable. In the legend itself the Edit Gear in the upper right corner lets the user access all the legend labels for editing. The legend on off switch is located in Map & Data – click the high level menu Edit Gear and choose the Edit Legend option toward the bottom.

Map and Data Layers – Users will notice that you can edit the name of your data layer (imported, territory, region, division) by clicking the Edit Pencil when you hover over the Map and Data layer name.  This is also a label of sorts and can come in handy. Think of the crazy labels we assign our data. Fix it there.

Adding Sales Dollars to Territory Labels
Territories are usually built based on zip codes, counties or state map layers – or other map layers available in the Add Map Layers option. So when you want to add a calculation or numeric update to your territory label, once again, hover over the related map layer and click the Edit Gear. Select the Label option along the right side and then choose Format Labels.
Now choose Territory Labels. From Territory labels you will see below an option to link with your imported data layer. Choose the column that contains your numeric sales data. Feel free to edit the label text – like adding a “$” sign or maybe the words “Q2 Results.” After you’ve finished click Change Labels and see your data now populated in the territory label on the map. This is my favorite feature in Map Business Online, except the ability to import Jpegs as symbols so I can build a map dedicated just to Don Knotts. See video.
Barney Fife






Grow Your Own Symbols
Map Business Online let’s you choose your own symbols and add them to the available library of symbol options. Your industry may have its own library of standard symbols to choose from. As long as the symbols are of reasonable size, in Jpeg or bitmap format, you can import them for use on the map as mappoints.

To do this, you should have already selected a jpeg image and saved it to you desktop somewhere. Then in Map Business Online simply click into the Symbol library where ever a symbol is available (color code by point, the Data Window) and scroll to the top of the library. Choose Custom Symbol and import your symbol pic into the library.

Editable Legend
And speaking of labeling, let’s not forget, that the map legend is entirely editable in Map Business Online. Use this tool to make your final map speak to your map audience. The legend pulls together your entire map presentation by allowing you to spin your message using terms your audience understands. Click that little circle in the upper right corner of the Map Legend and edit the points and layer names. You won’t regret it.

Your map viewers will never remember a confused, overwhelming map, but if you use Map Business Online to make your map speak to your audience in terms they understand, they’ll always come to you for maps that help. You’ll be like the mad map maven, or the map-meister – at last known for something.

If I’ve missed any label options, let me know.  In closing, remember to use labels to improve the way your map communicates and to avoid distracting your map audience with too many labels. Otherwise we may have a failure to communicate.

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Contact: Geoffrey Ives or Jason Henderson (800) 425-9035

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About Geoffrey Ives

Geoffrey Ives lives and works in southwestern Maine. He grew up in Rockport, MA and graduated from Colby College. Located in Maine since 1986, Geoff joined DeLorme Publishing in the late 1990's and has since logged twenty-five years in the geospatial software industry. In addition to business mapping, he enjoys playing classical & jazz piano, gardening, and taking walks in the Maine mountains with his Yorkshire Terrier named Skye.
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