Saturday, March 27, 2010

Making a Custom Map in Google Maps

This article is about creating custom maps using Google maps.  It supports another article about putting maps into Blogger.  But the techniques apply whenever you want to generate a Google map of your own, and embed it into a web-site etc.

Custom Maps vs regular Google Maps:

Google Maps already lists vast numbers of road, rivers, buildings, businesses etc.  And these are being added to all the time.

Very often, you can simply search for what you want, and Google Maps will show it to you.  For example, searching for "Empire State Building" shows a map, with links to the building itself, and several surrounding businesses - like this.

But sometimes, the location you want is not already be in Google Maps.

If the place is "yours" then you can either register it through the Local Business Centre.  But if it's not appropriate for you to own the Google Places listing, or if you want to show multiple places on the same picture, it may be better to create a Custom Map.

Also, Custom Maps are the tool to use if you want to show routes:  for example, one of my blog-sites has about 30 custom maps that show the routes taken by local bus services.

How to create a Google custom map:

1  Go to Google maps (

2  Sign in
The same google account that you use for blogger is probably the best one to use.  And if you've already signed in to blogger, you may find that you're already signed in.

3  Make a new map
Go to My Maps (link on the left, near the top), and then Create a New Map.

4  Add your content
Put in placemarks, shapes and lines - both along roads and not.   You may like to use different colours for places that you have been to, vis places you're still planning to visit.

This page is good for learning how to edit maps:

Tip:   If you're putting in lines along roads, don't do one long line that shows the whole route.   If you do, and something goes wrong with it, then you have to delete the whole line and start again.   Instead, draw smaller parts of the line, and make up the overall route from them.

5  Save your map
Your map will auto-save as you make editing changes.  Beware of this - it means that mistakes you make get saved quite quickly, too).  When you have finished, press Save or Done one last time, just to be sure.

6  Exit and re-start Google Maps
In the same browser window, go into another google application (I usually use News, because the link is right beside Maps in the very top left of the screen).  Then go back into Maps.

7  Check your map
Open My-Maps, and then the map that you just created.   Check it's ok.

I've added this step from bitter experience!   Sometimes, especially with lines drawn along roads, Google Maps seems to add some extra bits that you didn't put in, and which don't show on the map when you're editing it initially.

What next:

After you have created a custom map, you may want to share it by putting it into a blog (or other website).

Or you may just use it for yourself, or send links of it to other people.

Related Articles: 

Putting a custom Google Map into your blog

Adding a Picasa slideshow to Blogger

HTML commands to put a picture and text side-by-side

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  1. thank you so much for the detailed instruction on how to put a google map into my blog ....
    i struggle with this ... but, thanks to you ...
    it worked great ...
    now .... what if i want to change the size of the map, or the title of the map ?
    how would i do that ?
    thanks !