Skip to main content

Make a Map!: GIS Lite & Quick Map Tools: Free Map Tools

Free tools to make maps from data you have created or found.

What is GIS Lite?

GIS Lite is a term used to describe tools, often web-based, designed to allow a novice to create a map without extensive GIS training or programming experience.  Some of these are free; others require a subscription or license.  The GIS Lite tools on these pages emphasize creating maps to visualize data rather than extensive data analysis.

Subscription Databases with Mapping Options

Make a Map Today!

Choose one of these tools to create a map for a course project, research paper, or to support a personal interest.  Each has different capabilities and source data.

  • Do-It-Yourself GIS: 20 Free Tools & Data Sources for Creating Data Maps
    This August 2013 article from the Open Education Database describes 6 map tools (with sample maps) and several sources of data.
  • ArcGIS Explorer
    This free downloadable application is produced by ESRI, creator of the popular ArcGIS software suite.
  • ArcGIS Online
    A free web-based mapping tool from ESRI.
    Very basic. Download to your computer and create maps that color-code groups of counties within a state, or groups of states in the U.S., Canada, or Mexico.
  • Carto
    Software as a service (SaaS) cloud computer platform that allows for GIS and web mapping tools within your web browser. Accounts are free up to a certain size with larger storage and features associated with fees. Tool provides the ability to quickly create maps from a spreadsheet that has geographic identifiers such as states, nations or X,Y coordinates.
  • GeoCommons Archive
    GeoCommons is a community contributed collection of open data from around the world. Uploaded by the public, data are often from public and open government website and sources. The searchable archive includes over 150,000 datasets as GeoJSON stored in Github and available to preview, download or explore.
  • Google Maps - My Places
    Create a free account and create maps of places that matter to you.
  • Google Earth Pro
  • Indie Mapper
    Create static thematic maps.  Geographic base maps and topical data library provided.  Data derived from selected international intergovernmental agencies including the United Nations, World Bank, World Health Organization, Food & Agriculture Organization, World Nuclear Association, U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance.
  • Map Creator
    Free download.  MapCreator works on Windows Vista/XP/2000 platforms.  Create static and animated maps, save maps in common image formats (TIF, BMP, JPG, PNG, etc). MapCreator also provides a tool to add/edit routes.
    Create personal (private) or community (published) maps to highlight travel, recreational opportunities, or anything at all!
  • Mapbox
    "Mapbox is the location data platform for mobile and web applications. We provide building blocks to add location features like maps, search, and navigation into any experience you create."  Open source where possible, free and fee service levels available.

Government Information, Geospatial & Data Services

Anne Zald's picture
Anne Zald
Anne Zald
Subjects: Government Information; Social Science Data; Regulatory Compliance
Main Library Room 1214
Northwestern University Library
1970 Campus Drive
Evanston, IL 60208
Skype Contact: anne.zald