How to Add Map Layers to Your First Business Map

MapBusinessOnline includes a variety of Map Layers that are overlaid on top of a basic map background to provide the basic components of a business map.  The map background, usually the “Streets” layer, is the bottom layer that all the other layers overlay.

Read About Creating Map Visualizations

If you look at Map and Data, the Blue and Gray box that floats over the map view, you will see all the Map Layers listed with checkboxes assigned to each layer. The bottom checkbox is already checked on when you, the user, create a New Map by clicking the New button on the right side of the master toolbar. Read more about Map and Data here.

In a brand-new map, recently launched, Map and Data shows four map layers as noted below:

States – The map layer contains state boundaries, FIP’s code, and labels

Counties – The map layer contains county boundaries, FIP’s codes, state abbreviations, and labels

ZIP5 Codes – The map layer contains ZIP code boundaries, place names (towns), primary state and counties, state abbreviations, and labels

Streets – A map ground primarily consisting of streets with some land-cover, building footprints, and state and city labels

A new map launches with only the map background layer or “Streets” turned on. The other three layers are unchecked. Check them on to display ZIP codes, Counties, or States on the map.

Additional Map Layers are available to add to the map. Those additional map layers are in the Map Layers button, located under the ‘Adding to Map‘ section of the Master Toolbar.

Adding Additional Map Layers to Your Map

Select a layer in the Map Layers button and the layer will appear as a new checkbox option in Map and Data. When you add the map layer to the map the new layer shows up on the map and is checked on in Map and Data. Sometimes users inadvertently uncheck the added map layer in Map and Data and may look for the layer in the Add Map Layer button. It will no longer show in the Add Map Layer button, the user must recheck the checkbox associated with that layer in Map and Data.

Hint: Map and Data can also be turned off inadvertently. To turn it back on, find the Blue Arrow on the far-left side of the map right in the middle. Click to relaunch Map and Data

Where did Map and Data go?











Many users may never find a need to add additional map layers, but it is nice to know they are there. Below is a list of the map layers available to add to the map and what they might be used for:

Census Tracts – A full map layer with boundaries of Census Bureau administrative districts, similar to ZIP codes only smaller. Census tracts let the user create smaller territories, or organize demographic data based on Census assigned areas. Territories based on Census tracts provide smaller area territory segments in crowded urban areas. Each Census tract includes its own FIPS code in the Data Window view.

Cities – A point layer of cities and towns across America. These points are just names associated with points that will be located on the map at the center of each city or town area. The City point layer is not editable or filterable.

City Limits – A full map layer with boundaries of all the cities and towns across America. Create territories and areas of interest based on city limits. City Limits, like ZIP codes, Counties, and States, have a Data Window analysis view, including access to MapBusinessOnline’s Demographic Data Library.

Congressional Districts – A map layer with boundaries. These are the official federal congressional districts. Color code the districts by party affiliation. Read more about Congressional Districts.

Highways – Exactly that. Highways come in handy when you’ve got a solid map layer of counties or states or territories and you want to add a transportation layer for reference or business reasons.

Metropolitan Statistical Areas – A map layer with boundaries that represent Census Bureau defined Marketing Areas. These are largely urban areas used for marketing purposes.

School Districts – Regional school districts. This layer is also a map layer with boundaries.  You see various school district layers listed by region. The data includes some information on schools and school classifications.

3-Digit ZIP Codes – A map layer with boundaries.  This ZIP code layer represents just those first three digits of a 5-digit ZIP code. Thus a 3-Digit ZIP code will be much bigger in area than a 5-digit ZIP code. For instance, Massachusetts has many different 5-digit ZIP codes that start with the digits 019. The 019 3-Digit ZIP code represents all those areas combined.  3-Digit ZIP codes are often used for territory management or direct mail analysis. Become an expert on ZIP codes.

Bonus Feature – Exporting FIPS Codes

I mentioned above that FIP’s codes are included with the Census Tract, County, and State map layers. FIP’s stands for Federal Information Processing Standards.  Government agencies like to use FIP’s codes. They help organize the analysis of counties and Census tracts. Who uses them?  Government employees, forest service people, and land management pros.  You know who you are.

To export FIPs codes associated with County or Census Tract territories:

  1. Select the layer in the Data Window Drop Down
  2. On the Data Window Toolbar select the Search by Territory (Yellow Puzzle Piece Icon)
  3. Choose the lower option, ‘Search and show territory assignments in the Data Window’
  4. Export via the far-right button on the Data Window toolbar
  5. The layer exports as a CSV file and will include FIPs codes

Where would a digital map be without Map Layers? I’ll tell you where – spread out on a desk in paper form. Map Layers allow modern-day map users to view a variety of perspectives.  These map views, complete with associated data, allow for analysis, filtering, and spatial queries. They are the secret sauce of business mapping.

Keep in mind, the most valuable map layer of all is probably the map layer you import made up of your business data.


Find out why over 25,000 business users log into for their business mapping software and advanced sales territory mapping solution. The best replacement for Microsoft MapPoint happens to be the most affordable.

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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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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