How to make a basic Google map


Reprinted from GateHouse Newsroom

Finished Google Map Simmons

A couple of months ago, I told you how you can make a bit of a complicated map, one that has layers you can turn on and off as needed. Since then, about five people have reached out to me asking how to make a regular old map with one or two points on it. So let's back things up a bit and I'll explain how you can make a "basic" map. Because, you know, people like to know where things are happening.

I find Google maps to be one of the easiest digital layers you can add to a story. And they're helpful! I remember there was a fire in my city that MetroWest Daily News was covering and I could not for the life of me remember where the street was, especially in relation to where I live. A map would have helped (and I made sure to add one later).

Basically, any time you have an address in a story, you can add a map. Examples of when to add a map: breaking news, construction or demolition of a building, new business opening/closing, a list of events.

1) Go to Google Maps (log in if you aren't already logged in to Google).

2) Click on the lines on the left (Menu) and choose Your Places.

Google Maps menu button

3) Click on Maps to see any maps you've already created and to create a new map.

Google Maps Your places

4) At the bottom of the list of existing maps, click on Create Map.

Google Maps create map

5) You'll land on a page showing the United States. You'll need to fill out information on the left side of the page, here:

Google Maps info panel

6) Click on "Untitled map" to reveal a pop-up box where you'll type a map title and a description. Save.

Title your Google map

7) Up in the search bar, in the same place you'd type an address if you were looking for directions or something like that, type in the address you want to plot out.

Search for an address Google map

8) When you choose an address or hit return, Google will drop a pin or placemark on the map. If this is the correct location, click on + Add to map.

Add to map

9) Now you can do a couple of things, including editing the title and description text for that placemark by clicking on the pencil icon; changing the placemark icon to be a different color or image by clicking on the tilted paintcan icon; or adding an image or video by clicking on the camera icon.

Edit options on Google map

9a) Editing the title: Click on the pencil and then type a better title and/or description as needed. You can also remove the "Details from Google Maps" box if you want.

Edited placemark info

9b) Changing the placemark icon: I like to add a graphic that is relevant to the news, if possible. There are a bunch from which to choose, but you can also add your own by clicking at the bottom, "Custom icon" and uploading an image.

Google map icons

9c) Add an image or video: The only sort of complicated thing about doing this is your image has to be hosted on a server somewhere. You need a URL (rather than uploading the image to the map). You can also search for images on Google and videos on YouTube.

Nicole Simmons image for Google map

10) If you have more places to map out, repeat the steps above.

11) If need be, you can click on the tool near the search bar to draw lines connecting points on the map. You can also plot out a route. Double click after drawing the line to indicate you're done.

Draw lines on Google map

12) Another tool allows you to calculate distance between points. Double click after drawing the line to indicate you're done.

Google map measure tool

13) You can change the way the background map looks by clicking on "Base Map" and choosing another map. The default map is usually the best, but your needs may require something else.

base map

14) When the map looks like how you want it, now you have to essentially release it to the public by changing the share setting. Click on the Share button up in the left corner.

Google map share

15) In the popup box, Change the Private setting to be Public on the Web and then hit Save and Done.

16) Click on the three vertical dots next to your map title to reveal options, including Embed on my site.

Google map public setting

Google map embed

17) When you click on "Embed on my site," a pop-up box reveals an embed code that you copy and paste into your story.

Google map embed code

18) After you publish the article, be sure to check the site and see if the map looks OK. If not, you might have to manually change the width and height figures to something that fits in the space.

19) For good measure, you can also do an external link and/or a hyperlink to the map's URL, which can be found back on that Share page.

Yippee!! You did it!

Nicole Simmons has been the regional digital editor for GateHouse Media New England since 2012. Before that and since 2007, she was the metro editor for new media for MetroWest Daily News in Framingham, Mass. She started at Community Newspaper Company (later bought by GateHouse) in 1999 as an education reporter, moving on to a city beat reporter, a copy desk editor, a page one designer/editor and a Sunday paper editor. She has helped newsrooms throughout the country learn and use the MediaWare Center and worked with the former Framingham Design House to bridge the gap between designers and editors. Now she's focused on all things digital and will share with you all of the fun nuggets of information she comes across.

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