New mapping tools on Excel 2016

By J. Carlton Collins, CPA

Q. I need to map our company's sales figures for multiple countries on a world map. What's a good mapping solution?

A. Microsoft Excel 2016 has two new mapping capabilities. The first mapping option is a regular two-dimensional world map. To use this map tool, highlight your data (cells A2:A5 and C2:C5 in the example at right) and from the Insert tab select Maps, Filled Map. The resulting chart (pictured below) is a basic world diagram displayed as a heat map, and your options for editing or enhancing this map are limited primarily to changing colors and repositioning the legend. Nonetheless, this basic mapping tool may meet your needs. (View a video of this topic at the bottom of this page.)

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For more powerful mapping capabilities, Excel 2016 also offers 3-D mapping. To use the 3-D mapping tool, select your data (cells A1:C5 from the same data set pictured above) and from the Insert tab select 3D Map, Open 3D Maps to launch the 3-D mapping tools pictured below (an internet connection is required).

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After plotting your geography data in 3D Map, you can then use the Layer Pane function (shown at the top right of the screenshot above) to edit and reformat your map. By default, the 3D Map tool displays a column over each country, but you can change this format to instead display a Bubble chart, Region chart, or Heat Map. You can also rotate and zoom the 3-D map, change colors, apply filters, and use additional map layers as overlays. As an example, the simplified data set used on the preceding page produces the 3-D world map shown below.

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If desired, you can convert the 3-D map into a 2-D map, add text, and even animate the map, if dates or times are included in the data set. Once you have completed your 3-D map, built-in broadcasting tools enable you to record your voice narration describing the map as you rotate the image to view different angles and animate the map to convey data trends over time. The resulting video clip is called a "scene," which can be coupled with other scenes to produce a single video of your data set. The entire video can then be published to a variety of destinations, such as YouTube.com, using the Create Video option, pictured below.

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The 3D Map tool recognizes many standard location descriptions including street address, city, county, state, province, ZIP code, postal code, country, region, or even longitude and latitude coordinates.


About the author

J. Carlton Collins (carlton@asaresearch.com) is a technology consultant, a CPE instructor, and a JofA contributing editor.

Note: Instructions for Microsoft Office in “Technology Q&A” refer to the 2007 through 2016 versions, unless otherwise specified.

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