Adding Demographic Data to Map Layer Labels Using MapBusinessOnline

Demographic Data is such a fun digital tool to play within business mapping software. MapBusinessOnline subscriptions include access to the most popular categories of USA demographic data available from the US Census Bureau. Canadian data is available for our northern neighbor’s geographies, but the category count is much less. Canada is stingy with its demographic data releases.

I’ve written before about building a demographic map using USA data and map layer geographies like ZIP codes and counties. But for today’s blog, let’s discuss creating a business map using map layer labeling.

Map layers are the jurisdiction layers such as ZIP codes, Counties, States, or City Limits included in MapBusinessOnline subscriptions. Each object (ZIP code, county, or state) in a map layer has a label. These labels can be turned on or off en mass and can have additional data appended to the labels. There are five flexible data fields available with each map layer label set.

Create a New Map

Click the new map button on the Master Toolbar and create a fresh new map of the USA. To simplify our base map, go to Map and Data and turn off or uncheck the ‘Street’ background map check box.  There’s no written rule that you have to use a background map as an aside.

While you’re at Map and Data, check on the State Layer. Your new map should have nothing but the 48 contiguous states showing against the blue background. (BTW, you can adjust the color to something other than blue in Map and Data Map Options.)

 Append Map Layer Labels with Demographic Data

In Map and Data, hover over the State map layer. Click the Edit Map Properties Button and click the Labels tab along the right side. Next, make sure you click into Auto Label instead of Customer Label. Custom labels are labels that pop up when you hover over a map object with your mouse. Custom labels are set up just like auto labels.  Custom labels are cool but not what we’re after right now.

Clicked into Auto Label, scroll down through the label append options shown to # 1. You should find the Demographic Data prepopulated in the top dropdown and Population populated in the bottom dropdown. Ensure that the category option is for the year 2019 – the most recent Census Bureau release.

In MapBusinessOnline Demographic data, the most recent two years listed represent third-party projection estimates. As of mid-December 2021, the most recent Census Bureau Demographic estimates are for 2019. 2019 estimates are not based on the decennial 2020 Census Count. Neither are the two projection years.  Look for decennial Census data in the spring of 2022. That is per the Census Bureau.

With the Population 2019 selected, add a short text preheader for the label in the top field. I usually type in ‘Pop –.’ But you could be more specific and type in ‘Pop 2019 – .’ Include the dash. You could also spell out the word: population. It is up to you. I generally lean toward brevity and clarity when placing text on a business map.

There are four more flexible label fields you may add to the map from Auto Labels. Let’s do one more using Calculated Data Columns as a data source for labeling.

Calculated Data Columns for Labeling

Calculated Data Columns is the way you create basic formulas out of demographic data and imported numeric data in MapBusinessOnline. Don’t be intimidated; learn to love Calculated Data Columns.

Because we are appending the State map layer labels in our map, we need to create our Calculated Data Column in the State layer in Map and Data. Close the label function we’ve been using and return to Editing the State map layer properties.

Each Calculated Data Column setup is tied to a specific map layer. The Calculated Data must be constructed on the ZIP code map layer if the map creator works with ZIP codes. The same would apply to counties or states.

On the first page of the State layer’s Edit Map Layer Properties dialogue, you will find a button labeled Manage Calculated Data Columns at the bottom section.  Click it.

You’ll find the ‘Date column category‘ shown as Calculated in the dialogue that opens.  That means when you search for data to append to your labeling. The dropdown list will now include ‘Calculated‘ for any calculated formula options you’ve created at the State Map Layer level.

  1. Click Add a Data Column.
  2. Name the Data Column. For example: ‘Pacific Islander Kids.’ We’re going to calculate the estimates for Pacific Islander Children by state.
  3. Select any number formating you’d like to apply (%, $, decimal places.) No decimals are required for our calculation.
  4. Choose Formula Options and then Simple Formula.
    1. Select the dataset you’d like to pull from – in this case, Demographic data.
    2. Because for this blog, I’m interested in displaying a Pacific Islander Population label, scroll down until you reach a pertinent year and the categories describing the Pacific Islander population. You can select one category at a time, moving the yellow selection to the right using the top blue arrow set, or hold the shift key and grab a bunch and move them all to the right. The top section will sum your column totals.
    3. With your selection moved to the Formula, click Add in the lower right
  5. You may now close the Formula section. Your calculated data column is complete.

Please note that subtract and divide operations are also available in the formula.

Percentages calculations are managed within the number format option. In Formula, I would move a column to the top and one to the bottom to develop a ratio and then format the number for percent.

Back to labeling.  With your Calculated Data Column created, go back to the Map and Data State Map Layer Edit Map Properties button. Click into Format Labels and Auto Labels again.  Now scroll down to Auto Label option #3. In the upper dropdown, select ‘Calculated.’ In the text section, type in “Pac Island Kids –.”

Now your map displays some pertinent demographic data by state, including the number of Pacific Islander Kids in your State. Maine has 7. Wyoming has 3. Chalk up another win for Maine.

Optimize the Map Look & Feel

Finally, with my demographic labels finished, I take a step back and optimize my map a bit:

  • I like darker borders on my states.
  • I add a color of choice for the state fill.
  • I adjust my Auto Label text color to something dark, and I click off Italics and the white shadow option.
  • I then play with the Zoom tool in the navigation scrollbar in the upper right. That’s the magnifying glass button. I run that Zoom rectangle just inside the USA border to maximize the map extent and show as many labels as possible.

Then I get my Mom and show her my map. She’s a Pacific Islander, so she can check for errors. Turns out Maine has four.


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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