Power BI offers many interactive map visualizations to help you understand your geographic data. Power BI Mapping visualizations condense the information supplied to the viewer and highlight key points based on the analysis. With power bi mapping tools, you can create stunning and interactive map visuals that can enhance your data storytelling and insights.

This guide will highlight the different Power BI Maps and lists the steps to get started with the Power BI Mapping. You will also discover some best tips to work with Power BI Maps. Let’s jump right into the Power BI Mapping steps.

Steps to Create Power BI Mapping Visualizations

By reading the above sections, you might have got a basic understanding of the Power BI Mapping working and the different maps offered by Power BI. In this section, you will learn the steps to create a basic Bubble Map in Power BI. So, follow the steps below to get started.

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Step 1: Load your Data

You need to choose your required data source or your required data file to work on with Power BI Mapping. Follow the below steps to load an Excel file:

  • Open your Power BI platform and navigate to Home → Get Data → Excel as shown below.
Power BI Mapping - Select Data Source
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  • From the pop-up window, choose your desired file source and click on Open. You can download the sample Excel file here.
  • Now, before uploading the data, select the City_Sales checkbox as shown below and click on the Load option to upload your data.
Power BI Mapping - Load Data
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Step 2: Create & Customize your Power BI Map

After loading your data, let’s create a Map using the Power BI Map option below:

  • Select the Report layout and click on the Map visualizations as shown below:
Power BI Mapping - Create Power BI map
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  • Next, you need to enter some fields such as Location, Latitude, Longitude, and Size. You can enter the City in the Location field by dragging and dropping the column to the Location field as shown below.
Power BI Mapping - Select Location
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You will observe that the Power BI automatically finds the cities present in your data on the Map as shown below:

Power BI Mapping - Result
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  • Next, you can use other column fields to filter your data and then visualize it on the map. In addition, you can format your Power BI Map using the Format option as shown below.
Power BI Mapping - Format Map
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After changing your bubble sizes, bubble colors, and labeling the categories from the Format window, your map will somewhat look like this:

Power BI Mapping - Formatted Map Result
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Great Work! You have learned the basic steps to set up a Map in Power BI. You can further try on other Power BI Mapping methods here.

Types of Power BI Maps

You can now access 4 native maps directly in Power BI Desktop without needing to import them. Let’s take a look at the different Power BI Maps below:

1) Power BI Mapping Types: Map (Basic)

Power BI Mapping - Bubble Maps
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This type of Map visual displays points that can be scaled as area bubbles if desired. This map has been merged by Power BI with Bing Maps to offer default map coordinates (also known as geo-coding) so that Power BI Maps can be created easily and accurately. This map is adequate for basic presentation, however, it falls short when it comes to advanced customization.


  • Easy to use.
  • Entirely supported by the Microsoft Power BI team
  • Ideal for simple and typical purposes.
  • Includes map themes.


  • Rare geocoding problems result in erroneous locations.
  • There is no support for bespoke geographic formats like GeoJson, ESRI Shapefiles, and others.

Creating a Basic Map

One simple method to achieve this is to click its icon in the visualizations pane and drag the type of field you want to utilize.

Let’s move the store’s ‘PostalCode’ to the ‘Location’ bucket.


The bubbles depict the sites.

If you like, you may add another field to the ‘Size’ bucket that indicates its importance to the location.

For example, adding ‘overall Units This Year‘ will illustrate how these retailers contributed to the overall number of units sold this year.

Simply drag the ‘Total Units This Year‘ field into the ‘Size‘ bucket.


As seen on the map, the size of the bubbles varies with the total number of units sold this year each retailer.

How to Format a Basic Map in Power BI

A basic map is a type of map visualization that shows data points on a map based on location. You can customize the appearance of a basic map using various formatting options. Some of the formatting options that are relevant to maps are:

  • Data colors: You can change the color of the data points on the map to represent different values or categories.
  • Category: You can show or hide the category labels on the map to identify the data points by name.
  • Bubbles: You can adjust the size and transparency of the bubbles on the map to show the relative magnitude of the data values.
  • Map controls: You can enable or disable the map controls such as zoom buttons, lasso selection, and auto zoom to interact with the map.
  • Map styles: You can choose from five different map themes to change the background and style of the map. The map themes are: Aerial, Dark, Light, Grayscale, and Road (default).
  • Heat map: You can turn on or off the heat map option to show the density of the data points on the map using color gradients.

To change the map style, follow these steps:

  • In the Visualizations pane, select the Format tab.
  • Under the Format tab, click on the Map styles option.
  • Select your preferred theme from the drop-down menu.

For example, to change the map’s theme to Aerial, select the Aerial option from the drop-down menu. The map will change to show an aerial view of the locations.If you would like to turn the ‘Heat map’ on, just click on it to change it from ‘Off’ to ‘On’:


Turning on the heat map would also affect the available formatting options. Try each of the options and see how it affects the map.

2) Power BI Mapping Types: Filled Map

Power BI Mapping - Filled Maps
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A Filled Map or Choropleth Map shows how a value varies in proportion over geography or region by using shading, coloring, or patterns. Using shading that spans from bright (less frequent/lower) to dark (more frequent/higher), quickly depict these relative differences. This map also leverages Bing Maps.


  • They are easy to use and understand
  • They offer various map styles to choose from
  • They allow you to adjust the map zoom and orientation


  • They may have occasional geocoding errors that result in inaccurate location.
  • They do not support custom geographic formats such as GeoJson, ESRI Shapefiles, and others

Creating a Filled Map

  • Click the filled map icon, which is next to the map icon, on the toolbar.
  • An empty filled map will appear on the canvas. To add data to it, drag a geographic field (such as Territory) to the Location bucket.

The map is similar to the basic map, with the exception of the filled areas that represent the shops.

It is also possible to add several legends to it. For example, we may include ‘City’ to represent the many cities inside the area.
To accomplish this, move the ‘City’ field to the ‘Legend’ bucket:


With ‘City’ as the legend, the filled-out territories are color-coded, separating the territory into cities.

How to Format a Filled Map in Power BI ?

The options provided on a full map are comparable to those on a simple map, sans the heatmap.

To see the formatting choices, click the ‘Format’ button in the visualizations pane:


3) Power BI Mapping Types: Shape Map

Power BI Mapping - Shape Maps
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Shape Map, unlike the basic Map visual, does not display the specific geographical locations of data points on a map. Instead, it serves as a visual for comparing regions on a map by using different colors to differentiate them. With a blank background, the Power BI Shape Map displays polygon patterns on the canvas.

Shape maps are a type of map visualization that use shapes to represent your data on a map. They are great for comparing different regions and showing your data in a visually attractive and informative way. A shape map uses a blank background and shows polygon patterns that represent regions on the map.

You can enhance your shape maps by adding more data fields and seeing how they affect the map. For instance, you can use ‘Total Units This Year’ as the ‘Color saturation’ field to display the variations on the map based on this value.

The Shape Map visual is only available in Power BI Desktop.  Since it’s in preview mode, you’ll need to enable it before you can use it. Refer to Use Shape Shape Maps in Power BI Desktop to learn more.


  • Allows custom geography
  • Allows any type of 2D shape


  • Still in preview mode so it can only be used in Power BI Desktop
  • No background or basemap option
  • No label on the map
  • No points or lines; only renders polygon shapes
  • Not ideal for large TopoJSON file as it may load slowly

Enabling the Shape Map on Power BI Desktop

Because this map is still in preview mode, you must enable it on your Power BI Desktop to utilize it.

Click ‘File’ in the tab list:


Then, hover your cursor over ‘Options and settings‘ and choose ‘Options’:


Go to ‘Preview features’ and checkShape map visual’:


With that, you’ll be able to see the shape map icon on the visualizations pane and use it.

Creating a Shape Map

Once activated, the shape map will display alongside the full map.Let’s utilize it in conjunction with the ‘Territory’ field on the ‘Location’ bucket.


As you can see, the map appears to be rather straightforward.

You may combine it with additional data to illustrate the link between the two.

For example, adding ‘Total Units This Year‘ to ‘Color saturation‘ causes changes on the map.

The saturation levels will be determined by the total number of units sold this year in the area.


Formatting a Shape Map

A shape map’s formatting choices are identical to those of conventional Power BI maps, with the exception of ‘Shape’.

The ‘Shape’ determines the shape of the map and its project.

Currently, it is set to ‘USA: States‘ and ‘Albers USA‘. It makes no sense to go to another country’s map while your data is in the United States.

You might try altering the ‘Projection’ to see which one you like.

For example, alter the ‘Projection’ to ‘Orthographic’:


Notice how the map’s projection has changed? Feel free to experiment with the many projections provided. To reset the ‘Shape’ option, just revert to the default.

4) Power BI Mapping Types: ArcGIS Maps

Power BI Mapping - ArcGIS Maps
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ArcGIS (Aeronautical Reconnaissance Coverage Geographic Information System) maps are more sophisticated Power BI Maps than the basic maps. It was developed by ESRI, a leader in geospatial software and spatial data, and launched in Preview in September 2016. Based on the kind of data, ArcGIS for Power BI uses its strong geo enabling technology to precisely put location data on the map and displays items as points or boundaries by default.

You can use ArcGIS Maps for Power BI to enhance your power BI mapping capabilities with spatial analysis, demographic data, and location analytics. 


  • Options for driving duration and distance radii
  • Clustering function when you zoom in and out
  • Heatmap feature
  • Features include access to ArcGIS Online reference layers and built-in infographics that update as you navigate the map.


  • Custom shapes cannot be added unless they are first uploaded to ArcGIS Online and shared publicly.
  • Not displayed when publishing to web or embedding.
  • Not accessible for Power BI Report Server.

Creating an ArcGIS Map

Though more complex, the method of creating an ArcGIS map is the same as with previous maps.Click its icon in the visualizations pane and move the ‘City’ field to the ‘Location’ bucket:


The ArcGIS map is more complex than the basic map, therefore it can handle the ‘City’ field pretty well.Add the ‘Total Units This Year‘ to the ‘Size’ bucket to enhance the size of the bubbles.


The bubble, like with the basic map, would correspond to how the ‘Total Units This Year’ statistics differed per city.

In case you weren’t aware, you may hover your mouse over a bubble to reveal the info behind it:


Editing an ArcGIS Map

If you’ve tried viewing the ‘Format’ area of this map, you’ve undoubtedly seen that it has only a few options.

This is because there is a distinct method for editing an ArcGIS map.

Click on the map, then the ellipsis symbol (three dots) in the top right corner of the graphic.

Then click ‘Edit’.


You are currently modifying an ArcGIS map.


There are several alternatives here.

  • Basemap (similar to the basic map’s style).
  • Location type (shown as points or boundaries)
  • Map theme (options include location-only, heat map, size, and clustering)
  • Symbol style (options for the symbol, using bubble as the default)
  • Pins (Pin a Location)
  • Drive time (from a starting point)
  • Reference layer (existing demographics and ArcGIS layers)
  • Infographics (available demographics can be added to the map)

To change the map, simply click on the desired selection.

Let us modify the ‘Basemap’ to ‘Streets’.


Formatting ArcGIS Maps

To format ArcGIS Maps, choose the Layers List icon in the chart’s left corner. Click on Symbology to learn about the chart’s current format.


The diverging color ramp used to depict Gross Profit% currently depends on the variable’s distribution. If we wish to vary the ramp based on profitability or quantiles, we may do so under Symbol Color, with light shades representing unprofitable cities and darker green shades representing lucrative ones.


The map below well represents the distribution of Sales and margin by city.


Map layers with ArcGIS

ArcGIS Maps also has demographic reference layers inside a city or state, which is an intriguing feature. This offers context for the data. It enables businesses to develop specialized strategy for each region. Having a reference layer for the population’s earnings within a region might help the firm focus on regions with higher discretionary income. You may add demographic and reference layers based on income, population, or weather, which are already available with ArcGIS distribution.

To add reference layers, select Analysis Tools and then Reference Layer, which provides a variety of possibilities.

After selecting the United States per capita income, the map below is displayed. Given the reference layer, it is simple to identify places like Pennsylvania (high per capita income) where businesses may promote high-margin items. Furthermore, the corporation might aim to extend its presence in Denver to generate revenue. As a result, you will enjoy the usage of reference layers while creating map-based visualizations.


Read more Tips and tricks for Power BI map visualizations, to improve your Power BI Mapping visualizations.

How to Enhance Your Power BI Maps

You have learned how to create basic, filled, and shape maps in Power BI. Now you can take your mapping skills to the next level.

You can make your map visualizations more impressive by adding custom layers, filters, and interactive elements. These features can help you show your data in a more attractive and informative way.

Custom Layers

Custom layers can add more context and depth to your data on the map. They can also make your visualizations more appealing.

You can use custom layers to add custom images, polygon layers, or 3D visuals to your map. This can help you create map visualizations that suit your specific needs.

To add a custom layer to your map, follow these steps:

  • In Power BI Desktop, select the Layer dropdown menu in the Visualizations pane and choose New Layer.
  • Select the type of layer you want to add and customize it as you wish.


Filters can help you refine and customize your map visualizations. They can help you focus on certain aspects of your data and highlight them on the map.

You can apply filters to your map based on the data field you want to emphasize. This can help you create a more engaging and informative map visualization that shows the most important and impactful aspects of your data.

To apply filters to your map, follow these steps:

  • In the Visualizations pane, select the Format dropdown menu and choose the Filters option.
  • Select the data field you want to filter and adjust the settings as you wish.

Interactive Elements

Interactive elements can make your map visualizations more interactive and dynamic. They can help users explore your data more deeply and gain more insights into the geographical relationships and trends in your data.

You can use interactive elements such as drill-downs, pop-ups, and tooltips to enable users to interact with your data on the map. Users can also zoom in, pan across, and hover over data points to access more information through tooltips. You can also use ArcGIS Maps features to enhance your user engagement.

By adding interactive elements to your map, you can create a more immersive and engaging experience for your users. You can encourage them to interact with your data and discover the story that your map visualization tells.

How to Follow Best Practices for Power BI Mapping Visualizations

To create effective and engaging map visualizations in Power BI, you need to follow best practices for data preparation, cleaning, modeling, visualization design, and interactivity. Here are some key tips to remember:

  • Hierarchical Data: If your data has different levels of geography (e.g., country > state > city), you need to create relationships in your data model. This will let you drill down into your maps and see more details.
  • Color Coding and Legends: You can use colors to show data values on the map. You should add a legend to help users understand what the colors mean.
  • Data Labels and Tooltips: You can add data labels to show key information on the map. You can also use tooltips to show more details when users hover over the map.
  • Custom Geocoding: If you have custom locations or shapes that are not in the built-in maps, you can use custom geocoding or import custom shapefiles. This will let you create custom maps that match your data.
  • Map Themes and Styles: You can customize the look and feel of your map to suit your needs. You can change the map theme, style, and colors to match your brand or highlight your data. You should make sure that the map is easy to read and understand.
  • Optimize Performance: If your data is large, you need to optimize the performance of your map. You can use aggregations or filters to show only the relevant information. You can also use clustering to group many points together.
  • Mobile-Friendly Design: You should make sure that your map works well on mobile devices. You can adjust the size and layout of your map to fit different screens.
  • Testing and Validation: You should test your map to make sure that it is accurate and consistent with your data source. You should also check that the map interactions work as you expect.
  • Documentation and Training: You should provide documentation or training for your end-users. This will help them understand how to use your map effectively in your Power BI reports.

Stay Informed: You should keep up with the latest Power BI updates and new mapping features. Microsoft regularly improves its mapping capabilities.

How to Prepare Your Data for Mapping

Power bi map visualization is a type of chart that displays data on a geographic map, such as countries, regions, or cities. But before you create your maps, you need to prepare your data well. This can help you avoid confusing and unclear visualizations and instead produce clear and compelling ones.

There are three key aspects of data preparation for mapping: 

  • Geocoding
  • Multiple location columns, and 
  • Latitude and Longitude values.


Geocoding is the process of converting location data into latitude and longitude coordinates. This is important for the accuracy and effectiveness of your Power BI maps. Geocoding ensures that your maps reflect the true geographical relationships in your data.

To geocode your data correctly, you need to classify your data properly and check for the presence of the globe icon next to your location data.

Multiple Location Columns

Location columns are the columns that contain location information in your dataset. The more location columns you have, the more precise your mapping visualizations can be.

You can use multiple location columns to provide more details and clarity for your data. For example, you can use country, state, city, and zip code columns to specify the exact location of your data points.

By including extra geo columns and appropriately classifying them, you can reduce ambiguity in your data and ensure your maps represent the geographical relationships you want to examine.

Latitude and Longitude Values

Latitude and longitude values are the coordinates that pinpoint the exact location of your data points on the map. They are the most accurate way to represent your data on a map.

By including latitude and longitude values in your dataset, you can avoid any ambiguity or uncertainty about the location of your data. You can also use them to create custom maps that suit your specific needs and preferences.

You check out our guide for a step-by-step guide on installing Power BI.

Exploring Power BI Mapping with Bing Maps Integration

A ‘map’ is a symbolic depiction of a location’s specific characteristics, usually drawn on a flat surface. Maps are a visual representation of information about the world. They demonstrate the size and shape of countries, the locations of landmarks, and the distances between them to visualize the world.

Bing Maps and Power BI work together to offer default map coordinates. It makes use of the Bing Maps Geocoding Engine, which sends geographical variables such as location, latitude, and longitude to Bing for geocoding processing and plotting on the map. In short, the Bing Engine converts the given information into geographic coordinates to do geospatial analysis. Visualizations based on maps are simple to make and provide a comprehensive perspective of spatial and category data.

Read along the next sections, to know the different types of maps in Power BI, and how you can get started with Power BI Mapping.

Before wrapping up, let’s cover some basics as well.

Key Features of Power BI

Among many other BI tools, Power BI is a leader. It has proven to be a trustworthy and easy-to-use Data Analysis and Visualization tool. Let’s have a look at some of the unique features it offers:

  • Real-Time Dashboards: Power BI Dashboards update in real-time, allowing viewers to instantly solve issues and uncover great opportunities.
  • Customized Visualization: Companies can quickly develop a visualization that matches their needs using the custom visualization library. Using open-source data-viz modules from R and Python, analysts can create highly configurable visualizations for their next Power BI report. In this guide, you will learn more about Power BI Mapping visualizations.
  • Get Data Feature: The “Get Data” option in Power BI allows you to select from a range of data sources, including On-Premise or Cloud-Based, Unstructured or Structured data, and so on.
  • DAX Functions: Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) in Power BI are predefined codes for conducting analytics-specific data activities. Over 200 functions are currently available in the Power BI function library. Refer to Create a Power BI Calendar Table using DAX functions article, to explore more.
  • Leverages AI: Power BI users can use image recognition & text analytics, as well as create Machine Learning models and connect them to Azure Machine Learning.
  • Robust Security: Power BI uses Active Directory to grant access to the control panel, and the company can only use Microsoft products through it. In addition to providing a standard security layer, Power BI is developed for establishing security that allows the team to provide access in a more controlled manner.

Want to explore more about Power BI? Visit the official website to know more.


In a nutshell, this guide helped you understand what is Power BI Mapping and why Power BI Maps are useful. You explored the different types of Power BI Maps – Basic, Shape, Filled, and ArcGis Maps. You also discovered the various tips to work efficiently with the Power BI Maps.

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Do you have any doubts? Feel free to ask or share your experience with Power BI Mapping in the comments section below!

Former Research Analyst, Hevo Data

Shubnoor is a Data Analyst with extensive expertise in market research, and crafting marketing strategies for data industry. At Hevo, she specialized in developing connector integrations and product requirement documentation for multiple SaaS sources.

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