Customise How Your Map Looks

This article describes how you can customise the appearance of a map view in Tableau.

Note: Many of the tasks in this article make use of the Map Layers pane. To open this pane, select Map > Map Layers. In older versions of Tableau, select Map > Map Options.

Select a Tableau background map style

When you are connected to the Tableau background map, you can choose between six built-in background map styles: Normal, Light, Dark, Streets, Outdoors and Satellite. You can see these styles below:

Normal Light Dark
Streets Outdoors Satellite

To select a Tableau background map style:

  1. Select Map > Map Layers.

  2. In the Map Layers pane on the left-hand side of the workspace, under Background, click the Style drop-down menu, and then select a background map style.

  3. For more information about the built-in Tableau background maps, see Select Background Maps(Link opens in a new window).

Import your own background map

If the built-in Tableau background map styles don't meet your needs, you can import your own background map from a Web Map Service (WMS) server or a Mapbox map.

To import your own background map:

  1. Select Map > Background Maps > Map Services.

  2. In the Map Services dialog box, click Add, and then select to add WMS servers or Mapbox maps.

  3. Follow the prompts to connect Tableau to the map service of your choice.

    For more information, see Use Web Map Service (WMS) Servers(Link opens in a new window) or Use Mapbox Maps(Link opens in a new window).

  4. When finished, click Close.

  5. Select Map > Background Maps, and then select the background map you want to use.

    The map updates to include the background map you choose.

Add a static background image

In addition to importing your own background map, you can add a static background image to your workbook and plot your data on it. For example, you can take a Google Map image and plot your data on it.

For more information, see the following topics:

Show or hide map layers

If you are using the Tableau background map, or a WMS map or Mapbox map that contains custom layers, you can show or hide layers on your background map to customise the background elements that frame your geospatial data. For example, you can overlay streets and highways or county boundaries on the map to give your data context.

To add or subtract map layers:

  1. Select Map > Map Layers.

  2. In the Map Layers pane, under the Map Layers section, select one or multiple map layers.

    Note: Some map layers are only visible at specific zoom levels. If a map layer is unavailable at your current level of zoom, it will appear greyed out.

    To use layers that are not available, zoom further in to the view.

Some map layers are built to work with certain styles. What follows is a description of the different map layers available. Some of these layers are only available when using certain map styles.

Layer Name Description present in map style
Base Shows the base map including water and land areas. All
Land Cover Shades wilderness areas and parks to give the map more depth. All except Satellite
Terrain Displays a relief of vertical elevation changes. All except Satellite
Coastlines Displays coastlines. Light, Dark, Normal
Streets, Highways, Routes Marks dual-carriageways and motorways as well as small city streets. This layer includes the motorway and street names as well. All
Light Country/Region Borders Shows a light grey outline of country/region borders and names. Light, Dark, Normal
Light Country/Region Names Shows country and region names in a light grey. Light, Dark, Normal
Country/Region Borders Highlights country and region borders in a darker grey. All
Country/Region Names Highlights country and region names in a darker grey. All
Light State/Province Borders Shows a light grey outline of state borders and names. Light, Dark, Normal
Light State/Province Names Shows state and province names in a light grey. Light, Dark, Normal
State/Province Borders Highlights state and province borders in a darker grey. All
State/Province Names Highlights state and province names in a darker grey. All
County Borders Highlights US county borders or second-level administration borders. Light, Dark, Normal
County Names Highlights US county names or second-level administration names. Light, Dark, Normal
Post Code Boundaries Marks US Post Code Boundaries. You must zoom in to see this layer. Light, Dark, Normal
Post Code Labels Shows labels for US zip codes. You must zoom in to see this layer. Light, Dark, Normal
Area Code Boundaries Marks the US area code boundaries. You must zoom in to see this layer. Light, Dark, Normal
Area Code Labels Shows labels for the US area codes. You must zoom in to see this layer. Light, Dark, Normal
US Metro Boundaries (CBSA) Marks US Metropolitan Statistical Areas and Micropolitan area boundaries. Light, Dark, Normal
US Metro Labels (CBSA) Shows labels for the US Metropolitan Statistical Areas and Micropolitan areas. Light, Dark, Normal
Water Labels Shows labels for bodies of water. All
Cities Shows labels for cities. All
Points of Interest Displays labels for points of interest such as schools, parks, cemeteries, businesses and important buildings. This layer is dependent on the zoom level. All
Neighbourhoods Shows labels for neighbourhoods in cities. You must zoom in to see this layer. All
Subway/Underground and Train Stations Displays the names of subway/underground and train stations. You must zoom in to see this layer. All except Satellite
Building Footprints Shows the outline of buildings, where available. You must zoom in to see this layer. Satellite, Streets, Outdoors
House Numbers Displays the house numbers of buildings, with and without building footprints. You must zoom in to see this layer. Streets, Outdoors
Contour Lines Displays lines indicating vertical elevation change in metres. This layer is dependent on zoom level. Outdoors

Add layers for US demographic data

If you are using the Tableau background map, you can turn on a variety of predefined data layers that show US census information. The data in these layers is for demographic data collected from the US ACS Census.

Note: Map data layers are only available for locations in the US.

To add data layers for locations outside the US you can connect to a WMS server that contains the desired demographic information. For more information, see Use Web Map Service (WMS) Servers(Link opens in a new window).

To add a US data layer to your map view:

  1. Select Map > Map Layers

  2. In the Map Layers pane, under Data Layer, do the following:

    • Click the Layer drop-down menu and select a data layer.

    • Click the By drop-down menu, and then select to layer the data by State, County, Zip Code or Block Group.

    • Click the Using drop-down menu to select a colour scheme.

Once you select a data layer, it is added as shading to the map and a legend is shown to explain the colours of the layers. To hide or show this legend at any time, select Map > Map Legend.

Change the mark type

By default, when you add a geographic field to the view, Tableau creates a point map. You can change this to a polygon (filled) map, a line map or a density map (heatmap).

Note: Filled maps are not available at the city or postcode level.

To change a point map to a filled or line map:

  • On the Marks card, click the Mark Type drop-down and select Map.

     

To change a point map to a heatmap (density map):

  • On the Marks card, click the Mark Type drop-down and select Density.

Add levels of detail

With maps, for each level of detail you add, the more granular your data becomes. For example, you might look at obesity rates at the state level, or you could drill down into the county level, like the examples below. Adding or subtracting levels of detail changes the make up of your map.

To add levels of detail to the view:

  • From Dimensions, drag a geographic field to Detail on the Marks card.

Add colour

There are two ways you can add colour to your map view: You can colour locations categorically, or you can colour locations quantitatively.

To colour locations on your map categorically:

  • From the Data pane, drag a dimension to colour on the Marks card.

    The image below shows each state in the US coloured by region: West, Central, South and East. The dimension, Region, is on colour on the Marks card.

To colour each location on your map quantitatively:

  • From the Data pane, drag a measure to colour on the Marks card.

    The image below shows each state in the US coloured by the amount of sales they achieved. The measure, Sales, is on colour on the Marks card.

For more information about colour, see Colour Palettes and Effects(Link opens in a new window).

Add labels

You can add labels to your locations to provide extra context. For example, you can add labels for location name and sales.

To add labels to your data, from the Data pane, drag a dimension or measure to Label on the Marks card.

A label appears in the centre of your location (if a polygon), or to the side of your location (if a data point).

You can add multiple labels.

Adjust the size of your data points

You can adjust the size of your data points to compare and contrast them, or make smaller data points easier to see.

To uniformly adjust the size of your data points:

  • On the Marks card, click Size, and then adjust the slider to the left or right.

To size your data points quantitatively:

  • From Measures, drag a field to Size on the Marks card.

 

Create custom tooltips

You can create custom tooltips to show additional information about your locations when your audience hovers or clicks on them. You can type in your own information to appear for all marks, or add a field that will update with information specific to each mark.

To add a field to a tooltip:

  • From the Data pane, drag the field to Tooltip on the Marks card.

To edit a tooltip:

  1. On the Marks card, click Tooltip.

  2. In the Edit Tooltip dialog box, format the tooltip how you would like it to appear.

For more information about customising tooltips, see Format tooltips(Link opens in a new window) and Add tooltips to marks(Link opens in a new window).

See also:

Mapping Concepts in Tableau(Link opens in a new window)

Use Web Map Service (WMS) Servers(Link opens in a new window)

Use Mapbox Maps(Link opens in a new window)

Select Background Maps(Link opens in a new window)

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