2. Formatting Your Travel Map

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This guide is a continuation of my Travel Maps for Beginners guide, on how to create travel maps for your blog in Tableau. This post assumes that you have already created your travel map via the instructions in the first post, and are now ready to format your map.

Now that we have created our map in Tableau and all of the data points appear correct, we are ready to format our map and make it look good. Tableau has a variety of options for customizing our map to how we would like.


Formatting Your Map

First, we can change the map background layers. Select Map at the top of the program, and select Map Layers.

You can choose whether you would like a Normal, Light, or Dark map. You can also adjust the map lines that you would like to see – streets, country borders, country names, etc.

Once you have selected the Map Layer options that you like, click the X to close the Map Layers. Refer again to the Marks panel.

Selecting Color will allow you to change the color of your map.

If you have Categories, you can drag the Category pill over the Color mark, and it will add different colors for your different categories.

Symbol vs. Filled Map Options

We have a few options, depending on if you used a Symbol Map or a Filled Map.

A symbol map is a map that uses symbols, such as dots or stars, to mark a point. A filled map means that an entire area, such as a country, is filled.

Symbol Maps

For your Symbol map, Tableau has a few options to customize your map. These options can be found in the Marks panel.

Selecting the Size mark will allow you to change the size of your symbols.

If you would like to change the shapes of your symbols, select the drop down on Marks. It should be set to Automatic. If you click the drop down, select Shape. A Shape Mark will now appear.

Clicking on the Shape mark, you can select different shapes for your symbols. If you have a Category field, you can drag Category over the Shape mark and you can select different shapes for different categories.

Filled Maps

With Filled Maps, your options to format your Tableau map are different.

Let’s say you want to see a color gradient: the more times you have visited a country, the darker the country appears. You can drag the Number of records pill over the Color mark.

Once you drag either Category or Number of Records over Color, selecting Color will give you options to further customize your color choices.

If you would like to see the countries labeled, then you can drag the Country pill over to the Label mark. Clicking on the Label mark will also give you options to change the font and alignment as well.

You can spend some time experimenting with Tableau’s features, and seeing what types of formatting you would like to apply to your map. Once you are done with your formatting, you are welcome to either take a screenshot of your map as-is, or move onto the next step -> 3. Creating your map graphic.

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