How can I make a printable map with points and labels?
August 25, 2011 12:16 PM   Subscribe

How can I make a printable map with about 2 dozen points clearly labeled?

I need to make a map of about 2 dozen locations with labels for each spot. I figured out how to put in all the placemarkers in GoogleMaps, and enter all the info for each spot, but it doesn't seem to do labels that will all appear on the map at the same time. Best I can get is to have one label at a time appear on the map, and that often covers up some other placemarker.

I think I understand why ... GoogleMaps is meant to be interacted with, so you can click on a spot and get the info, then move on to another spot.

Sadly, though, the people I'm doing this for aren't 'there' yet with the computer, and they want a piece of paper with points and labels so they can read it and hang it on the wall to look at.

I could print this Google Map and hack up some kind of labels with a Sharpie, but I would prefer that the end result look a bit more professional.

Is there some way to make Google Maps show labels for all the placemarkers at the same time, or is there some other software I should be using to do this?

I am willing to invest some time to figure this out and learn a new skill (rather than paying someone to do it), but I am not flush with cash to buy expensive software.
posted by mccxxiii to Technology (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I believe you can do this with Google Maps's My Maps feature.
posted by tivalasvegas at 12:29 PM on August 25, 2011

Take a screenshot of your whole desired map, and put it into any graphics program (even MS Paint would probably do. You could do it in MS Word as well.)

Put some text labels and arrows on top of your map screenshot and print!

Basically the same as printing it and doing it with a sharpie, but the result will be a bit nicer.
posted by Diplodocus at 12:40 PM on August 25, 2011

tivalasvegas is totally right: My Maps in Google Maps will do this. You just have to right click on a point that you are adding and say "Save to Map..." and it will give you options of maps you've already created and the option to create a new map.

Once you've added everything you want to it, you can go into this map in your "My Maps" and add whatever info you like, change the style of placeholders and manage the sharing settings, which also allow other people to collaborate on it with you. It's very useful.

Then, when you want to send it to people for printing, zoom out so you can see all of the placeholders, then grab the link for it and send that link to people with instructions on how to print it out - which is to say, just click on the print icon in the corner and print it. It will print all of the descriptions and placeholders on however many pages it needs to make them all fit.

A nice thing, too, is that you can add turn-by-turn directions to these maps, which I just figured out, by right clicking once you've asked for directions between two spots (and of course, you can drag these lines yourself to make them suit what you're wanting to do) and saving it to your map, as with the placeholders.
posted by urbanlenny at 12:49 PM on August 25, 2011

To clarify ... I have already created a "My Map" in Google Maps and put all my points on it, and added info to all those points.

My question is how to get it to print the map with all the "point info" showing at the same time. For example: I need to see a map of California with a dot and the words "SAN FRANCISCO" next to it, and another dot next to the words "LOS ANGELES" and another dot next to the words "PALM SPRINGS" and so on.

Right now I can only get it to show one of those labels at a time, so when I print I get a bunch of dots with no labels, and *one* dot that is clearly marked.

All the info is in my map, I just can't figure out how to make it display properly, and I'm not even sure that Google Maps is the right tool for what I want to do.
posted by mccxxiii at 12:55 PM on August 25, 2011

Can you just add your own label via graphics program after you have the map.

I would use Open Street Map for the actual map image, as they let you export in vector format or Hi Res PNG. This will allow you to retain clarity at a large print size.
posted by travis08 at 1:03 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think you might want BatchGeo. It'll display labeled markers for up to 26 points (A-Z).
posted by ofthestrait at 1:08 PM on August 25, 2011

This appears to be possible with Google Maps if you use the Javascript API, though whether it's possible to make a nice-looking printed map using such code I really couldn't say.
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:13 PM on August 25, 2011

Are you clicked into the map itself in My Places (on the left of the map window, next to Get Directions)? That should show all of the points you have added to it. This is what a map of mine looks like when I have chosen it from my list under My Places.
posted by urbanlenny at 1:31 PM on August 25, 2011

Ohhh... I see what you are saying - labels showing with the actual bubbles above them. Sorry. I don't think that google maps does that at all, which is silly.
posted by urbanlenny at 1:39 PM on August 25, 2011

QGIS is a free GIS program. I haven't messed with it, but it should be able to do this, but there is probably a bit of a learning curve.
posted by Duffington at 3:32 PM on August 25, 2011

I use Microsoft Streets & Trips for this very purpose. Most weeks I map out all of the local garage sales that I'm interested in, complete with little balloons that list the address and start time. Streets & Trips has it's own labels that appear when you do a search for an address, but as the screen gets crowded the labels sometimes overlap. To get around this problem I use the text box feature instead of the automatically generated labels. Works great. For some reason that I can't think of right now, I prefer the 2005 version over the newer one, but I think any version will do what you want. I'm pretty sure I paid less than $30 for the program. (I've automated the whole process, but that's another story).
posted by Carlo at 5:49 PM on August 25, 2011

Short of acquiring an ArcINFO license, ArcGIS Online probably offers more cartographic control than Google Maps.

If you really feel like devoting time to this, GRASS is a solid, free desktop GIS option that is likely to produce higher quality printed output than any web-based solution. I've never used it, but supposedly it's popular everywhere except the United States.
posted by unmake at 8:00 PM on August 25, 2011

Check out SimpleMappr.
posted by dhruva at 8:40 PM on August 25, 2011

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