Layering Maps

Creating Maps with Google Fusion Tables

If you have not read the Data Viz module from Fundamentals of Multimedia Storytelling, or need a refresher, you should do so. The link to the module can be found on the Resources page of this blog. The module will teach you how to create a Google Fusion Table map. Keep in mind that the tutorial uses the “classic view”. You can toggle between the new look or the “classic” view in the upper right corner. The features between the two are nearly identical, but the interface is just a little different.

You will upload your spreadsheet to Fusion Tables, and if your data has geo-coded data that Google can understand (an address, country names, state names, latitude and longitude coordinates), then Google will plot the information as a pin on your map. If you want to create a choropleth map–where different shapes on the map are colored based on the data–you have to fuse two datasets. Your first dataset contains the names of geographic boundaries (ZIP codes, state names, country names, etc.) and some data about them. Your second data set contains the names of those geographic boundaries and the KML data that describes their shape on the map. Start with the first dataset and merge it with the KML dataset. 

Layering Google Fusion Table Maps

Use the Google Fusion Tables Layer Wizard to layer several maps together. Here’s an example from last semester’s blog that combines a map of NYC school districts with point data of all the public schools.

  1. Make sure that the maps you want to layer together are public. Change the privacy settings in the Share option (upper right corner). Then, choose Tools > Publish (in the New look), or click on the Get Embeddable Code link above the map (in the Classic look).

Copy the


iframe> code which allows you to embed the map.

  1. Go to the Google Fusion Table Wizard, and paste your map embed code in the Embed link field and click Put layer on map.

The Preview window on the right shows your map. Click on the Add Layer button to add a second layer.

  1. Paste your embed code from your second map. Click Put layer on map to add the second map. The Preview window on the right layers both maps.

  1. You have the option of adding a search feature to your map. Choose the search type, add a label for your search box, and choose the category (column) that you want the readers to be able to search. In this example, readers can search for a particular school name.

The search function appears at the bottom of the map. All the schools with the name “lincoln” are shown.

  1. The next set of options let you customize the size of the map and its features and appearance. Map labels and map features can be turned on or off, and the saturation of the map colors can be adjusted.

Your customizations are updated in the Preview window. Change the base map features to tone down the map itself and help the reader focus on your data.

  1. Finally, copy the HTML code and paste it into an empty text document to create a new web page. Upload this HTML document (via FTP) to your web server to share on the web. You can iframe your web page to embed it into a WordPress blog post.



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