Cartographic Setup within MapBusinessOnline

I’ve been building business maps for many years now and have developed my process for setting up my business mapping. But many of you may be unfamiliar with the thought process and basic steps we map geeks go through when we start a new business map.  I thought it might be valuable to share my steps towards building a pulchritudinous and business-like map using MapBusinessOnline.

Setting Up the Map

First things first.  After launching the application, click New (far left) on the master toolbar to Create a New Map. For most of you, choose the USA map template. Or, if you must, select Canada or the USA and Canada map template.

Up comes the map of the USA with Map and Data hovering over the map. The Map and Data Box displays checkboxes for the more popular map layers and backgrounds. Click the little gray Right Arrow in the middle of your far-left screen panel if it’s closed.

I like to zoom in a tad. Click the plus sign once or twice on the upper right corner Navigation Scrollbar to zoom in. Or use the Navigation Scrollbar magnifier – bottom left – to create a Zoomed-in bounding rectangle.

I also optimize Map and Data for my needs, keeping it small and positioning it off the USA as much as possible.  I keep my Map, and Data dropdown (there’s only one) set at Custom View. If you find you are in perpetuum creating the same map setup, you can adjust this dropdown to your liking. But wait until you’ve made a few maps first.

Setting Up My Map Look Using MapBusinessOnline

Now keep in mind, you could permanently save your favorite business setups as a Map Template in the MapBusinessOnline Save dialogue.  A map template protects your critical maps from unintentional editing.  This is an easy way to begin each of your maps by selecting your favorite setup map scheme in the template option list.

Hint: Saving a map template could be a real timesaver for busy map-makers.

Adding Map Layers

Check on the State Layer listed in Map and Data.  Read more about Map and Data here. Hover over the layer and click Edit Map Layer Properties to edit the layer’s look and feel. I like the state layer boundary to be dark. Uncheck the State layer fill to let the map background show through. I also turn off the state layer labels because most map viewers know which states they’re viewing. In my view, state layer labels simply add clutter to the map. But under labels, you could choose to show state initials. Your choice.

Hint: Avoid adding clutter to your map because it distracts from your map’s purpose.  Always try to focus your map audience on the purpose of the map.

Consider adding other layers to the map, like the City Limits Layer. Think about your business map subject and the purpose of your map. If it is city-focused, the city limits layer can be helpful. If it is ZIP code-focused, then add the ZIP code layer to your map.

Turn on the ZIP Code Layer using Map and Data.  I like to apply a gray border to the ZIP codes and keep the internal fill a light green. Use the Edit Map Layer Properties button to control the look and feel of the map layer. Keep in mind, ZIP codes at a national map view are not very helpful because they generally appear pretty small.  Zoom in to more critical areas of your map to explore alternatives for a ZIP code area look and feel.

Zoomed In to View ZIP Code Detail

Demographic Mapping

Add a demographic theme to the ZIP code layer.  Try out demographics using a population category to get an idea of what a ZIP code thematic map looks like.

  1. Select the Boundary button on the master toolbar.
  2. Choose the ZIP code layer
  3. In the dropdown, select Demographic Data
  4. Choose the year 2018 (the most recent Census release – not a projection as are the 2019 and 2020 data groupings) and apply Population 2018.
  5. In the Color Box section, use only three color ranges (expand to more ranges when you get comfortable color-coding), and apply several gradations of Red or Blue.

Hint: Census data is updated after we get Census ACS updates. And no, the 2020 Census is not available to MapBusinessOnline quite yet.

Now view the map. Color-Code dialogue allows the map editor to uncheck the fill for colors ‘not in any range.’ This uncheck option simplifies the map and the map legend. Oh yeah, the map legend. Please read on.

The Map Legend

Once you’ve added map layers, and especially after you’ve color-coded the map, you’ll see the Map Legend appears over the map. Move the legend to an unobtrusive spot on the map. Perhaps drag it over a body of water. Or place it in the St. Lawrence River valley in Canada. It won’t hurt anyone up there. And it won’t clutter your map.

I remove any layer, not adding value to my map legend, like the State layer. Usually, no one needs a legend to tell them there are states listed on the map. Click the tiny little Legend Edit Gear in the upper right corner of the legend. This opens up the Legen Edit dialogue. Now uncheck the state layer.

I also consolidate that ZIP code layer labeling to combine Census Data with the ZIP code layer. That consolidation removes a legend line. For example, in my map displayed on this blog, the legend says “Population (2018) by ZIP5 codes” all on one line.

The Map Legend should be concise and orienting for your map viewers and not distracting and confusing so that your company Know-It-All can poke at it during your presentation. Don’t feed the company, Know-It-All. They are jealous of your map-making capability.

Map Background Options

The bottom check box listed in Map and Data is for adjustment of the Map Background. The most commonly applied map background, and the default background in MapBusinessOnline, is the Streets layer.  Click the Edit Gear to edit map layer properties and select an alternative map background in the dropdown.

Try a different map layer or two to see how they look. I often use the National Geographic layer. It adds some topographic value, and it has pleasant colors. Sometimes it’s nice to change the background, so your maps look a little different.

Save your preferred business map setup as a Template, as mentioned above.  All map templates show as a template option when you click New Map. How exhaustively convenient.

Hint: Read our blog for more best mapping practices. Use the search tool.

You’re a map geek now. Let your Geek Flag fly. If you create business maps that throw an appropriate light on business problems, you’ll be lauded for it. Just like I will be celebrated for using big words in my blog post.


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.

Please read customer reviews or review us at Capterra, or g2crowd.

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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