How to create a locator map

Besides symbol maps and choropleth maps, you can create locator maps in Datawrapper. They are a great choice if you want to show where something is located or happened. Here are three ideas on how to use them: 

  • In an article about events on the other side of the planet: Show a map of countries and main places that the article mentions, in case readers are not familiar with them.
  • In an article in a local newspaper: Show a map of locations within a few blocks in a city, e.g. concert locations.
  • In a travel article: Show a map of the main sights in a city or country. 

To create a locator map, go to datawrapper.de and click on "New Map" and then "Locator map". This will open the locator map creation pipeline. Four steps will lead you to your result: 1: Add markers, 2: Design map, 3: Annotate and 4: Publish.

The editor steps follow the three basic elements that a locator map is made of: the symbols and texts, which we call "markers"; the map where the markers are added to; and finally the annotations on top and below the map:

Step 1: Add markers to the map

Markers are the symbols, lines, areas or and text that you add on top of the map. The position of every marker is fixed to a map position: if you move the map view, the markers will move alon with it. You have a wide range of options for customizing the markers:

👉 Read more about adding markers to your map

While you're adding markers you will also start to adjust the map view. You can pan and zoom the view, but also rotate and even tilt the view angle. This is something you can do in all three steps.

Step 2: Design the map and add extras

In this step you can change how the map under your markers looks like. We offer four different map styles and you can toggle individual layers on or off (e.g. roads or water).

We also offer four extras that you can add to your map: a scale bar, a north arrow, a inset map, and a a highlight region. 

👉 Read more about how to change the design of your locator maps

Step 3: Annotate the map and add a map key

Finally you can give your map a title and description, add notes below the map, give credit to a source, and set your byline. If you want to add more text to the places you marked on the map you can use the special map key option:

👉 Read more about how to how to annotate your locator map.


This article is part of a five-part series on how to create locator maps:

1 – Introduction: How to create a locator map
2 – Move around the map & set the map size
3 – Add markers
4 –  Design the map
5 – 
Annotate & give your map a key

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