How Do I Create a Demographic ZIP Code Map?

Let’s create a demographic map by ZIP code. We’ll be using the ZIP code map layer and applying demographic data to that layer. ZIP code maps are one of the most popular uses of online business mapping software.

As preparation, make sure your ZIP Code options are set to ZIP5 Code with Fillers in Map and Data. That option provides the best ZIP Code options for building accurate ZIP code maps with no holes out west due to national parks. Trust us. It’s the best setting.

Read More About ZIP Code Mapping

Start with a New Map

Click the New Map button on the far-left side of the Master Toolbar. With a new USA map in view go to Map and Data, the blue, floating box with all layers listed with checkboxes, and turn on the ZIP code layer.

Hover over the ZIP code layer in Map and Data and click the Map Layer Properties button. In the panel that opens-up, move the transparency scrollbar to the right to perhaps 70% – enough to show a measure of the map background through the ZIP code layer.

Demographic data can be displayed in multiple ways in MapBusinessOnline. The first thing to do is decide what the map’s primary goal is. In our map, we’ve decided to visibly display the Number of Households and compare that to general Population data, and Household Income Levels. All the demographic data will be presented by ZIP code.

I would tweak the ZIP code layer a little more, making the boundaries slightly thicker and a darker color. On second thought, I would keep the boundary thickness at the thinnest option because ZIP codes are so dense when viewed from a national perspective. Use your judgment as you adjust your map look and feel.

Add Demographic Data

Now that your ZIP code map layer is tweaked let’s color-code the ZIP codes by a demographic category.

Still in Map and Data, with the ZIP code Map Layer Properties panel open, notice the button labeled Color-Code Map Layer. Click it.

Just as an aside, you could achieve the same functionality by clicking the Color Coding – Boundary button on the Master toolbar.

We decided earlier in this write-up to color-code the ZIP code layer by the category of demographic data associated with the number of households. Here’s the process:

  1. Click Color Code Map
  2. In the dropdown at the top, choose Demographic Data
  3. In the next dropdown, scroll down to 2018 and slowly scroll through the categories until you come to Households (2018). 2018 is the layer of data most recently released by the Census Bureau. The two more recent layers above 2018 are third party projections.
  4. Next, move to the color groups section. You could color up to 100 groups, but that’s not necessary for a simple demographic map. Choose five at the most.
  5. Looking at the five group color options, I usually break the numeric ranges into sensible breaks like 1 – 250, 251 – 1000, 1001 – 5000. Use your judgment. It’s easy to reprocess the color-coding and try different schemes.
  6. Click into the color-code boxes to tweak color shades, or choose from the dropdown of preformatted color schemes
  7. When you are satisfied, click Done

As always, it’s easy to go back to the Color-Code Map button and run through the process again. Your settings are saved and can be easily adjusted.

Append Supporting Demographic Data to ZIP Code Labels

Now that the map is a ZIP Code Map color-shaded for demography, it’s a good idea to consider adding supporting demographic data to your map labels. Because our map is focused on Households, we’ll want to add information like Median Household Income or Median Household Size. But you could add the overall population or some other relevant factor to your map.

To add labels with demographic data to your map, start by making sure the ZIP code labels show up on the map view at the nation-wide viewing level. Mapping applications will present ZIP Code labels only where they do not overlap each other. So you’ll see fewer labels displayed at a Zoomed Out level and more as you Zoom In.

  1. Hover over the ZIP Code layer in Map and Data, click the Edit Map Layer Properties button
  2. Along the right side, click into Labels
  3. In the label panel, scroll to the bottom to where it says Show Auto Labels. Auto Labels for a ZIP code are actual the ZIP code number. At the bottom, where it says Start Labeling From, click the Dropdown and choose North America. Now ZIP codes will begin to appear on your map. You’ll see more as you zoom in

Any Auto Label in MapBusinessOnline allows up to five flexible labels to be appended. To add demographic data to the ZIP Code Auto Label, scroll up to the top of the Label Panel:

  1. Click into Format Labels
  2. Click into the Auto Label Tab (make sure). The other option is Custom label which controls the pop-up labels generated when a mouse cursor hovers over a ZIP code
  3. Under Auto Label, below the “Select data values…” Select #1. In the top dropdown, find Demographic Data, in the second dropdown, find Household Income. Make sure to input some Prefix Text. Repeat for number 2, except this time grab Average Household Size data. Proceed through line 5, as required
  4. Click Change Labels in the lower-right

Other data could be appended to your demographic ZIP code map labels. You could import user business data and added columns to your ZIP code labels. You could also purchase MapBusienssOnline business listings and add columns from that data to your ZIP code labels.

And with that, you have created a ZIP code demographic map.  You could add more data to the map to expand its utility. One way to enhance your map is to import relevant business location data into the map. Imported business data could be left as dot-density points on the map, or it could be color-coded to reflect numeric values contained in the data imported.  One could also create a heat map view, using the Heat Map button on the Master Toolbar. The map is your oyster, as it were.

ZIP Code maps are used by a wide variety of businesses to visualize their business operations, layout their customer locations, or to share sales territories.

I believe ZIP code maps are powerful because all of us relate to the ZIP code as the area where we live. In many cases, our ZIP code is our town. We understand what a ZIP code is both in practicality, spatially, and demographically.

And for all you MapPoint users out there, come over to MapBusinessOnline and get those obsolete ZIP code maps up to date.


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To access MapBusinessOnline, please register and then 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.

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

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