Designing Maps with ArcGIS


This course teaches how to create attractive maps that are easy to interpret and properly designed for their audience and delivery medium, with an emphasis on applying fundamental cartographic design principles. You will learn how to follow a standard cartographic workflow to efficiently produce high-quality maps for print and online use.

Who Should Attend

Cartographers and GIS analysts, specialists, mapping technicians, and others who need to produce maps using ArcGIS software.


After completion of this course you will be able to:

  • Plan a cartographic project.
  • Choose appropriate data to support cartographic needs.
  • Create appropriate symbology, map elements, and layout designs for a given map project.
  • Create labels and annotation that are easy to read by the map’s intended audience.
  • Produce effective maps for print and web delivery.


Completion of ArcGIS II: Essential Workflows or equivalent knowledge is required.

Course Outline

Cartographic planning process 

  • Cartographic workflow
  • Defining map purpose, audience, and specifications

Evaluating data

  • Data considerations
  • Evaluating geometry and attributes
  • Evaluating scale
  • Choosing a coordinate system

Cartographic design principles

  • Design considerations for printed and web maps
  • Visual weight, contrast, and figure ground
  • Understanding effective use of color
  • Designing color schemes and symbols

Advanced symbology techniques

  • Symbol-level drawing for advanced cartographic effects
  • Cartographic representations
  • Symbology considerations for map services

Map text

  • Text placement guidelines for point, line, and polygon features
  • Type basics for cartography
  • Text-editing workflow
  • Creating labels with Maplex
  • Working with annotation

Designing a map for the web

  • Design and performance considerations
  • Best practices
  • Types of map services
  • Specifying the tiling scheme
  • Analyzing a map document
  • Previewing and publishing map services

Creating maps for print

  • Design considerations
  • Coordinate system considerations
  • Cached and dynamic map services

Creating map layouts and map series

  • Creating a balanced map layout
  • Map elements
  • Dynamic text
  • Creating a map series using data driven pages
  • Exporting a map series to a PDF document