How to Review Your Business Map Before a Presentation

Let’s assume you know how to build a business map. You may be experienced or perhaps you’re new to business mapping. Or maybe you’re just good with tech and you’ve got a map ready to present. I recommend you stop and consider your map before you take it to a meeting or just publish it through online map sharing.

I prepare many maps for the MapBusinessOnline map gallery using my personal MapBusinessOnline subscription. Once I’m more or less happy with it, I rebuild the map again into our gallery map builder. This process of map development gives me a second chance to consider all of my color shades, symbol choices, and text placements. It always improves my map.

Learn More About Sales Territory Mapping

So, for this blog analysis, lets discuss the final tweaks one might make and the map-making steps to double-check before going live.  Don’t view a business map as a one-off novelty. It is every bit as critical to your business reputation as a white paper or an Excel-based analysis might be.

Your map is done. You’ve imported all the data you require to make your map-point. Your map feels like its ready. Let’s make double sure. Here is a list of things I do before I officially publish a map:

Review Imported Data Symbols – Take a look at your imported data layer’s symbols.  Do they make sense? Could you use a building symbol instead of a dot? I actually prefer dots but one of my bosses likes building symbols. Are your symbol sizes large enough to make sense on the map and in the map legend (which refers to these layers) or should you adjust the sizes down to tone down the map?

The colors of symbols should be discernible over any color shaded map layers. Discernible means the map viewer can easily distinguish between map point and map background. Don’t place dark blue symbols over a dark blue map object. You don’t need to set the points on fire, just differentiate them. Make that map easy on the eyes.

Map Layer Choice – Map layer choices, for me, often relate to the demographic data categories I may want to highlight. If it’s a territory map, map layer choices revolve around territory base units.  These are often ZIP codes. For my Opioid map I felt a county map layer made the most sense because the problem is both national and local. For more local problems I might choose a ZIP code layer.

Color shadings of map layers should be double-checked to make sure color-shading is appropriate – not to bright or washed out by too much transparency. Just go to Map & Data and hover over the map layer and click the Edit Map Layer Properties button to adjust the settings controlling map layer’s look and feel. Go into the General settings tab. Try a transparency setting of 50%. Need more background map detail? Move it to 70%. Need more solid colors? Try 30%.

Text Items – Your map should include a Map Legend or Map Key that describes relevant layers. Turn off those layers in the legend that are not adding value. For instance, if you have a state layer turned on for boundary reference only, there’s no need to list it in the Map Legend. Your map readers know what a state is.

If you’ve got a lot of territories with labels displayed on the map do your map viewer a favor and uncheck the territory layer in the legend. Avoid redundant map text – space is limited. No need to repeat the entire list of territory names in the legend.

Consolidate lines where possible. I tend to erase and uncategorized data references such as “no data” or “undefined.” If you can combine a title line and subtext line – do it. Less is more in business mapping.

Spelling – Review your text phrases for dumb mistakes, poor word choice or for more clarity. Check spelling. Just because your map is not a word document, you are not off the hook for spelling errors.  Here’s what people are thinking when they look at a decent map with spelling errors. “Brad’s got a nice map here, too bad he made himself look like a dimwit with those spelling mistakes. I’m taking his parking space tomorrow.” (Now, I realize I have some grammar and spelling errors in my blog from time to time. Stay out of my parking space.)

Other items to check

  • Consider a different map background – check the options for a more appropriate look and feel
  • Don’t turn on all imported data layers, just the critical ones
  • Include a map title that defines the map in just a few words
  • Use map layer labels to display more data where necessary

Maps communicate through visualizations and visual themes related to locations. Adding too many themes and layers can confuse your audience. It’s important to limit your map objectives to just a few messages. Your business map reflects your work ethic and your communication style. Spelling errors, map clutter, and saying dumb stuff reflects on you.

Make your business map a professional statement about how you conduct business around the office.  Be the problem solving map geek, not the messy map guy with no parking space.


MapBusinessOnline access has officially transitioned from Web Browser (Adobe Flash Player) access to the Map App download access.

  • Please download the Map App from the website –
  • After installing the Map App, the MapBusinessOnline launch button will be in the Windows’ Start Menu or Mac Application folder. Find the MapBusinessOnline folder in the Start Menu scrollbar. Click the folder’s dropdown arrow and choose the MapBusinessOnline option. You can drag the icon to the taskbar for a quick launch button.
  • All saved maps will be available through your Map Library Folder, the second button in from the left on the Master Toolbar. (Green File Folder icon.)

Map App access to provides enhanced features and a better user experience.

The Map App includes the new Map Viewer app for free non-subscriber map sharing.

Value-Added Resellers – Offer the tool to your customers as a reseller. Make money on training and consulting. Contact us with further interest in reselling MapBusinessOnline.

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Contact: Geoffrey Ives or Jason Henderson

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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