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In Short

Learn about Google Map Maker’s basic functionality by creating a map yourself.


Google provides a set of tools with which you can create your own maps: Google Maps and Google Map Maker. Google Map Maker is an online tool for collaborative mapping. Learning to work with this tool will make you aware of the power of online mapping techniques.

Google Map Maker

Google Map Maker is a web-based collaborative mapping application for creating, viewing and editing online geo-information. Map Maker was launched in June 2008 as a way to support the improvement of existing Google map data through the expert knowledge of local citizens. Map Maker uses Google Maps/Google Earth Imagery as a background, so that mappers can perform on-screen digitizing of terrain features or adding new information not contained in the imagery. Map Maker serves as an input to Google Maps, and many of the features that users add will eventually appear in Google Maps.

Below is a comparison of Google Maps data and Google Map Maker data. Some new features have been created by mappers at the bottom map and they do not yet appear in Google Maps. At the same time, due to refresh cycles, not all Google Maps features appear yet in Google Map Maker.

Map Maker activities have first targeted countries with minimal data in Google Maps. More country territories have been opened for editing since then, including the United States.

Maps for a part of Rabat, Morocco. Left: Google Maps, Right: Google Map Maker

For an up-to-date overview, see the countries being mapped

The Map Maker Moderation System

Google Map Maker enables users accessing the service through a Google Account to submit User Submissions or to edit such third party User Submissions (collectively known as "User Submissions"). Any User Submission is subject to moderation that is verification or correction by other users of the Service.

Create points of interest (POIs) [visit the tutorial for more info]

A POI is essentially any place on earth that can be useful for someone. POIs are often used for orientation and navigation. They can be represented by a point on the map or by a polygon, if the extent of the place (e.g., a building) is relevant at the particular scale (zoom level) being viewed.

Sometimes the main entrance of the building is used as a point of interest. In case we want to map a building more accurately, for instance to view it at a larger scale, we want to create a polygon, and so mapping its borders.

Before adding a point, search for the place to determine if it already exists on Map Maker.

If it doesn't, switch to hybrid view (Satellite view with Show Labels checked), zoom in to the appropriate location and add the point as follows:

© 2011 Google - Imagery © 2011 Geo Eye  US Geological Survey, Map data © 2011 Google

  1. Click the Add a point icon .
  2. Select the category from the drop-down menu.
  3. Click the map and drop the marker at the entrance of the feature. This is where the listing icon will be displayed on Google Maps, and also helps route directions on Google Maps.
  4. Add details about this place on the left panel such as the Name, Contact information, Description and other Attributes.
  5. If you know it, fill in the street address, so Google Maps can generate directions for this point of interest.
  6. Click Save to finish.

Create road segments [visit the tutorial for more info]

In Map Maker, roads consist of road segments connected to each other by their start/end-points.

To add a road: Adding road is simple and fun ! You can do it by following the below guidelines,

  1. Click the Draw a Line tool.
  2. Choose Road from the type box.
  3. Start drawing the road using the Satellite imagery. View imagery by selecting the Satellite or Hybrid (preferred) image views.
  4. Double click will end the drawing. Alternatively, press ENTER to end the drawing.
  5. To cancel the drawing, press the ESC Key.
  6. Edit the attributes of the road in the left panel. If this road has no known name, do not fill in the Name attribute. You can or someone else will edit it later to add a name to the road. if you are not sure of the name, it would be best to leave the 'Name' field blank. Try adding authorized names of roads.
  7. Avoid adding Single Stretch Roads, these are the roads that are drawn without stopping at intersections. Its best to add roads in individual sections stopping at intersections and whenever they take a diversion. This also ensures that they get published faster on Maps.

Here are the detailed steps to create a "Road" in Map Maker.

1. Click the Draw a Line tool or press the letter "R" to create a new road as per the satellite imagery. The Road which we are now adding is a new one, so in this case we will click Create a new road and click on the Next button.

© 2010 Google Imagery - Digital Globe - Geo Eye Map Data © 2010 Google

2.  Then, select the appropriate attributes for the Local road on the left hand panel  and click on the save button.

© 2010 Google Imagery - Digital Globe - Geo Eye Map Data © 2010 Google

3. After clicking on Save button the road will get published and go 'Live' on Map Maker for everyone else to see. Note: Some features may go pending, where they need to be moderated by other users.

© 2010 Google Imagery - Digital Globe - Geo Eye Map Data © 2010 Google

Create polygons [visit the tutorial for more info]

Geographic features such as a building can be represented by a point or polygon feature.   You can mark a place as a shape on Map Maker as it appears in the satellite imagery to help depict the boundary of the feature accurately. Check out the guidelines to draw a shape before you draw shapes for the first time.

To begin, search for the feature to see if it already exists on Map Maker. If the feature exists as a point instead of a shape, you can use the Mark Building Outline/Boundary options to draw the shape.

If it's not already mapped, use the Hybrid View (Satellite view with "Show Labels" option checked), zoom in to the location, and follow the steps below:

  1. Click the Draw a shape icon .
  2. Select an appropriate Category for the place from the drop-down menu.
  3. Click along the outline/boundary of the place to draw the shape.
  4. After drawing the shape, press Enter or double-click to finish drawing.
  5. On the left panel, enter the feature's Name, Contact information, Description and other Attributes.
  6. Click Save when you're done if there are no existing duplicates.

© 2011 Google - Imagery © 2011 Geo Eye  US Geological Survey, Map data © 2011 Google

Create fields[visit the tutorial for more info]

A field is something with a geographic footprint, but not necessarily visible in the terrain, such as a city boundary, hazardous areas and land use planning zones.

Add or edit political regions

On Map Maker, you can add and edit the boundaries of various political regions such as States, Cities, Localities or Sub-localities.

These major political regions determine addresses for newly-added features. For example, a restaurant in Brooklyn would automatically populate the Locality field as Brooklyn and the City field as New York, as seen below:

Before adding a major political region, do a search to check if it already exists on Map Maker.

Types of political regions

Country: Countries are already mapped and cannot be created on Map Maker.

State: States are the primary level of division within a country and most states have already been mapped on Map Maker. States may also be known as Provinces, Regions, Governorates, among other names. For some regions in the world, creating or editing a state may not be allowed.

District: Districts divide the State into further divisions. A district includes multiple cities and may also be known as a county, parish, among other names. Not all countries have districts.

Minor Civil Divisions: A district is divided further into minor civil divisions, which are also known as municipalities, communes, among other names. Not all countries have minor civil divisions.

City/Town/Village: Cities, towns, and villages are considered regions where people live. All countries have these divisions.

Locality: A locality is a fairly large portion of a city that has an official name. For example, a locality can consist of several housing colonies/developments. Cities in some parts of the world may not have official localities.

Sub-Locality/Neighborhood: A sub-locality or neighborhood is a smaller section of a city, such as a housing colony or development that has its own official or local name.

Other political regions include: Administrative Area, Colloquial Area, Constituency, Designated Market Area, Municipal boundary, National election boundary, Police jurisdriction limits, Political, School District, State election boundary, Tribal Reservation.

Add a Political Region

You can edit Political Regions on Map Maker if they have been mapped inaccurately or if some details have been changed to ensure that the feature is up-to-date, remains accurate, and is detailed and informative.

  1. Click the Add a Shape icon .
  2. Select the appropriate category from the drop-down menu.
  3. Click along the outline/boundary to draw the shape.
  4. After drawing the boundary, press Enter or double-click to finish drawing.
  5. On the left panel, enter the feature's name, population, and other Attributes.
  6. Click Save to finish adding the region.

© 2011 Google - INEGI, Cnes/Spot Image, Digital Globe, GeoEye © 2011 Google

Edit a Political Region

  1. Right-click the area of the map where the shape is located.
  2. Click Find near this point to see all the features in that location.
  3. Select the shape that you would like to edit and click Edit this place.
  4. To edit the shape, click the larger nodes and drag them to redefine the shape.
  5. Click and drag the smaller nodes to add more nodes to the shape.
  6. You can edit or add the name, population, and other Attributes.
  7. Leave a message for the reviewer in the Comments to the edit reviewer field to help with the review process.
  8. Click Save to finish editing the region.

The image below shows the large nodes (1) and small nodes (2) in an edited feature:

© 2011 Google - INEGI, Cnes/Spot Image, Digital Globe, GeoEye © 2011 Google

The image below shows a City/Town/Village while being edited:

© 2011 Google - INEGI, Cnes/Spot Image, Digital Globe, GeoEye © 2011 Google

Map Maker Best Practices

Before mapping it’s important to learn the do’s and don’ts of Map Maker.   A longer list of best practices is available here.  Some key points are:

  1. *Do not copy* any content from any other sites or maps.
  2. Also do not add social networking sites in the website field and Photo URL field.
  3. Map the features in cities that you are familiar with first.
  4. Before drawing a feature, ensure that the feature does not already exist. If it does you can always edit the existing features to make the required changes!
  5. When making changes to a feature, leave a comment supporting the changes made. This will reduce the time taken for the changes to get published.
  6. Check the features that you have added in My Edits tab regularly, this will help you get feedback from other users and moderators, if any.
  7. Its easiest and valuable to draw major landmarks, like airports, universities, highways, etc. to allow you and other users to better orient themselves when looking at the imagery of the town of your interest.
  8. If and when you see a partially incorrect or outdated feature, please edit the feature and its attributes or location, rather than deleting and redoing it completely.
  9. Elaborate the full word instead of using Abbreviations when drawing roads. For example: "Avenue" instead of "Ave" or "Street" instead of "St".
  10. Do not add long stretches of road as a single edit. Instead you can try and add them in individual sections by stopping them at intersections and whenever they take a diversion.
  11. Do not add personal information (like names and personal contact numbers) to maps.  Rather you can add the feature with the complete address, the name of the house, if any, and a description.


Lesson: Snapshots of Map Maker Time Lapse Videos

Objective: Get a broader understanding of the basics strategies of mapping in Map Maker

Group Size: Individual

Materials: Computer; Internet


1. Visit

2. Play some of these videos and write down what you see; what do they have in common? how are they different (except location)?

3. Make notes on the following points:

  1. How is the map built-up
  1. What is the geographic extent, for example, from the centre of town or by neighboorhood
  1. What geographic feature are first constructed (roads, then buildings, etc.)
  1. What is the scale of building (first major roads, then minor road, etc.)

Note: In many cases, after the initial creation of a geographic feature, its representation on the map will change, in terms of location, name attribute, or classification (ex., a major road is later on considered to be a minor road and its visualisation is changed from yellow into grey). Try to spot those cases in the videos.

Lesson: Mapping the Basics

Objective: Get hands-on experience mapping roads and buildings in places you know well, such as where you live, where you work, or where you've travelled.

Group Size: Individual

Materials: Computer; Internet


1. Go to Map Maker at Search for a city you are familiar with and zoom in three or four times.

2. Decide on an area where you would like to create new features. You may discover that lots of what you have in mind is already mapped by the Map Maker community. If this is the case, your knowledge may be valuable to spot gaps and improve existing data.

Note: In order to avoid that moderators will waste their time on your experimental data, make sure that you are not committing the data yet. Do this by choosing Save as draft and continue later, instead of choosing Save.

3. Add a road. Choose the middle item from the 'Add' box. Select road from the list that appears.

4. Click on the beginning of the road segment that you see on the map. Click at points where the road turns, and continue drawing the road until a suitable intersection with another road. Once you are finished, click twice on the termination point.

5. On the left-hand panel fill in basic information about the road. When you are finished click save.

6. Follow similar steps to add a point for a restaurant, shop. or other attraction, as well as a polygon for a larger area such as a lake or church.

Lesson: Mapping Details and Moderation

Objective: See what data has been mapped already and by whom; learn about the moderation process

Group Size: n/a

Materials: Computer; Internet


1. Go to Map Maker at Search for a city you are familiar with and zoom in three or four times. If there is no map information for that city, try to search for a larger city, like Chennai, India.

2. In Map Maker click on the left box, Browse, in the set of select tools indicated below.

3. Click on a feature indicated by a red dot and choose 'Details' from the pop-up bubble. This will show you the edit characteristics of that feature in the pane on the left.

4. Scroll down in the same pane to History to see the changes made to this feature over time, including the comments made by the creator of the feature and the person. The mappers being involved in the current edit are indicated with hyperlinks.

5. Follow a hyperlink and learn about the edits of this particular person. It will show you statistics about how many edits and reviews this mapper has performed and provides information about the exact locations of those edits.

More Info

  1. Map Maker Help Center Tutorials