For your map to make the most impact, you might want to change how it is displayed. 

There are a couple ways to do that: 

  • Turn layers on or off
  • Change the number of bins
  • Change the break methodology
  • Change the shading options and/or the colors
  • Change the fill opacity
  • Change the line width and opacity

The video below will walk you through each of these steps - if you're just looking for instructions for one tool in particular, feel free to skip through the video or scroll down for text explanations of each option. 

Turn layers on or off:

Under Map Layers, clicking the eye icon on the layer you want to turn off will make it invisible on the map and remove it from the legend. Clicking the eye icon again will put it back on the map. All the data settings will stay, even if you turn the layer off and save the map.

Change the number of bins:

By default, the number of bins for any data that has at least 5 different values, is 5. You might want to change this if you only have a few sub-geographies on the map or if the values in the bins don’t change very much. In these cases, decreasing the number of bins to 3 or 4 could be helpful. You can do this by clicking on the dropdown menu for number of bins located beneath the more options link.

Change the break methodology:

A break methodology determines how your data is split up into bins. Our default is natural breaks, which divides the values into bins, or groupings, based on where values differ most.

You also have the option to use equal interval or equal count breaks, as well as the ability to make custom intervals.

  • Equal intervals divide the data based on the range of values present. This is useful for illustrating the biggest differences in a community.
  • Imagine a city with 100 census block groups, and you’re visualizing the percentage of families below poverty level for each one. Say the top value is 60, the bottom is 0, and you’re using 5 bins. The bins will be split as follows: 0-12%, 12-24%, 24-36%, 36-48% and 48-60%. If 80 block groups have fewer than 12% of families below poverty level, they will all show up in the first bin. If only 3 block groups are above 45%, those 3 will show up in the last bin. You now know where it may be useful to target programs or projects.
  • Equal count breaks divide the data based on the data’s percentiles. 
  • Using the same example as before, the 80 block groups with fewer than 12% of families below poverty level will be split into 4 bins, while the fifth bin will include the 20 block groups between 12 and 60% because they are the block groups with the highest 20 values. Because there are still 5 bins and this is an equal count break, the 20 lowest values will be in one bin, the 20 next-to-lowest values will be in the next bin, and so on. 
  • Custom breaks divide the data based on whichever values you decide. To define custom breaks, change the values on the left. The values on the right will automatically update. One reason for using this break methodology is to identify where goals, such as improved poverty rates, are being met and where they are not.

Change the shading options and/or the colors

  • To change the colors on a map, navigate to the edit panel and click Edit Data Styling. Then, under shading options you have the ability to select Monochromatic, Preset, or Custom. From there you can customize the colors in the bar underneath.

Change the fill opacity

Changing the fill opacity, or how transparent the colors of your layers are, can help your dashboard’s visitors orient themselves on the map by letting them see landmarks such as parks or street names under the data display. To change the opacity, use the slider under Fill opacity to make the colors appear more or less solid.

To make it so the shapes of the sub-geographic areas aren’t colored in on your map, uncheck the Fill box above Fill Opacity. If you’ve added data to the layer, this box is above Edit Data Styling. This is useful when you want your layer to show only the outline of a particular place.

Change the line width and opacity

If the area you are visualizing has a lot of sub-geographic areas such as census tracts, the lines may obscure the fill colors. To change the width, use the slider under Line Width. The default line width is 2, and you can choose widths between 1 and 10. You can also change the opacity of the outline just like the fill.

To remove the outlines altogether, uncheck the Outline box above Line Color.

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