How to Make a Map in Excel

map image by NataV from

Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet application that allows you to enter data into its columnar grid. Most users of the program interact with it in this way, however Excel is capable of graphic work as well.

The program has built-in tools for creating graphic elements, and it also integrates with other programs for this purpose. The creation of maps is one of the features possible when using Excel in this way. Anyone who wishes to create a map in Excel has many opportunities for achieving this. Old versions of Excel (Excel 97 and earlier) contained a specific mapping tool that was removed in later versions. Today you can make a map in Excel using other techniques.

Install Microsoft MapPoint to gain access to many mapping features designed to integrate seamlessly with Excel. Microsoft introduced MapPoint when the company removed the native mapping features from Excel in all versions after Excel 97. The tool can create graphic maps and also interprets address data in an Excel spreadsheet to isolate certain geographic areas on these maps. The program integrates with GPS devices to bridge desktop programming with real-time activity. Transportation routes can be viewed, updated and sent to these mobile devices. The addition of "pushpin" features makes it possible to create rich details in a map. These pushpins may be clicked for expanded information on any area of a map. The MapPoint services help business track location-specific information about product sales or deliveries. It is capable of most other mapping applications as well. The program is available for a free trial to see if MapPoint is appropriate for your situation.

Download the Yahoo! MapMaker template for Microsoft Excel. This free Excel file enables anyone to integrate Excel data with the Yahoo! Maps online system. The program takes existing address information in an Excel spreadsheet and interprets it for the creation of a map with specific locations highlighted. Excel will automatically open a web browser and connect to the Yahoo! Maps online servers. Once the map is created, it can be copied back into the Excel spreadsheet, if desired, using Excel's import features. Planning trips, detailing public transportation routes, plotting points of interest and other applications are easily rendered by MapMaker. There is no charge to use MapMaker, and the Excel template may be customised for your own situation, if necessary.

Build an Excel map by importing a map image from an online source and using Excel's own features on the "Drawing" toolbar to trace and recreate the map object in Excel directly. The drawing tools allow you to create objects, fill those objects with colours and add reference points to the image. Thematic maps, where different areas of the map are shaded in alternate colours to highlight differences between geographic locations, are often created in this manner. This technique is not useful for those seeking an automatic translation of spreadsheet data into a map image. However the process offers the ability to directly control what kind of information is displayed. If specific location points need to be plotted, drawing the map yourself will require some estimation as you draw those details onto the image.