Data visualization and storytelling


Marker maps, icon maps, locator maps, symbol maps, emoji maps…

Whatever you call them, they’re easy to make with our new Flourish template

The new Marker Map template is a powerful tool for visualizing locations at specific coordinates. That might mean plotting thousand of locations colored by category (a “symbol map” or “dot map”). It could mean putting just a couple of places in the context of a country or region (a “locator map”). Or it could involve showing the restaurants, cafes and places of interest in a city (an “icon map” or “guide map”).

Like our recently launched Arc Map, the new template combines gorgeous vector base maps and open-source WebGL tech, making it faster, smoother and capable of handling much more data than its spiritual predecessor, the “Icon map”. The template also supports 3D, enabling you to create a truly immersive visual stories by panning, zooming and changing perspective – as shown in the above tour of United States national parks and monuments.

Icons, images and emoji – oh my!

In terms of the markers themselves, you can choose between Font Awesome icons, emoji, or even custom images you’ve uploaded to Flourish. Click through the story below to see examples of each. Emoji can be typed in directly to the data sheet or copied and pasted from elsewhere. Icons can be specified by name, and images can be uploaded to Flourish by clicking on a cell and choosing “Upload file”.

Using the template

To get started all you need to do is upload a single spreadsheet of locations with columns for latitude and longitude. But looking in the data area you’ll see there are actually three data sheets to play with:

  • Locations: This is the main sheet, where each row becomes a marker on the map. In addition to the required lat and long columns, you can also set other columns for marker icon/image/emoji, size, metadata to include in pop-ups and so on.

  • Categories: This optional sheet allows you to style markers in groups – which is handy for bigger datasets. When you use this sheet the template also automatically creates a legend, which doubles as a filter: click any category to hide and show markers of this type.

  • Inset Map Regions: This is where you can optionally customize the inset locator map in the bottom right corner. If you leave this sheet empty it defaults to a globe, but if you want to show a specific country, city, borough or even a street you can upload a GeoJSON file containing the relevant shapes – or even just paste in rows from any Projection Map example.

Assigning markers

There are three ways to assign the icon/emoji/image of the markers. The first is to set a default style in the Markers settings panel. All points will take this style unless otherwise specified.

default markers

The second option is to add a marker column to your main Locations data sheet. This works best when you only have a couple of locations or when you just want to specify an override style for a particular marker.


The third option is to point to a category column on the main Locations sheet and then assign a marker style for each entry in that column in the Categories sheet. Take the example map above showing 4609 fruit trees, colored by tree type. In the Locations sheet, each row is a tree and the column for tree type (apple, cherry, pear) is specified in the column selection panel as the Categories column.


Then, on the Categories sheet, we’ve added a row for each category:


Make your own!

It’s never been easier to make a beautiful high-performance marker map. Or dot map. Or locator map. Or icon map. We can’t wait to see what you create!

Make a marker map now »