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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.
    • Tableau Public
      Create maps and other types of data charts;  free download, link to training materials
    • Google Fusion Tables
      Upload data and display using Google Maps
    • Open Heat Map
      Upload data and display on map - documentation provided
    • Many Eyes
      Maps one of several visualization styles available - scatterplot, bar charts, line graph, pie chart, tree map, word tree, tag cloud, and more.
    • IMF Data Mapper
      Visualize economic data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) about its 188 member countries.  (See GeoWeb Applications tab for more like this!)
    • GunnMap
      Use pre-loaded data or upload your own.  Maps can be exported as images (jpg, png, svg).
  • 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.
  • CartoDB
    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
    Free sign up.  "GeoCommons is the public community of GeoIQ users who are building an open repository of data and maps for the world. The GeoIQ platform includes a large number of features that empower you to easily access, visualize and analyze your data."  Help provided through User Manual and online community (forums | blog).
  • Google Maps - My Places
    Create a free account and create maps of places that matter to you.
  • 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!

Government Information, Geospatial & Data Services

Anne Zald
Deering 102A
Northwestern University Library
1970 Campus Drive
Evanston, IL 60208
(847) 467-6441
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