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    Best Practices Checklist for Creating Maps with CARTO

    This section describes the best practices recommendations for identifying your map essentials, planning your map, compiling your map data, designing your map, adding map elements, and publishing your map. These guidelines should be considered during your map workflow, in order to produce the most effective and valuable results.

    Best Practices Checklist

    1. Identifying Basic Map Essentials
    2. Planning your Map
    3. Compiling your Map Data
    4. Designing your Map
    5. Adding Map Elements
    6. Publishing your Map

    1. Identifying Basic Map Essentials

    Before you start planning your map, ask yourself these questions to identify your basic map essentials.

    • What is the purpose of the map that you want to present?
    • Who is your target audience?
    • How do you plan to distribute your map? (Mobile, desktop, print, etc.)
    • What is the overall aesthetic of the map that you have in mind?

    2. Planning your Map

    The following table describes the best practices checklist for planning your map requirements.

    Planning your map CARTO Feature
    What kind of map will you make? View the Which kind of map should I make? Map Academy course
    Have you identified your data resource? Yes, connect a dataset to CARTO and ensure it is a supported geospatial data format
      No, locate external geospatial and mappable resources
      No, use a public dataset from the CARTO Data Library
      No, if you are an Enterprise user, access advanced location-based datasets directly from the Data Observatory catalog
    Are you using private datasets or public datasets with your map? Be mindful that creating maps with private datasets (Anonymous Maps) and public datasets (Named Maps) have different workflows. Named Maps need to be pre-configured on our server through our API
    Evaluate how to project the data for your map? Is the map projection reflecting the map’s purpose (equal area, conformal, etc.), or does it need to be modified (central meridian, standard parallels, etc.)?

    See map projections.

    Tip: See the Free Your Maps from Web Mercator blogpost, for an example of how to choose the right map projection

    3. Compiling your Map Data

    The following table describes the best practices checklist for compiling your map data, for analyzing and classifying select data for your map.

    Compiling your map data CARTO Feature
    Select the data that is most useful for your map’s purpose? Apply SQL Queries and Filters with the CARTO Editor. For additional resources, see The Map Academy course, SQL and PostGIS in CARTO
    Is your map data classified as quantitative or qualitative? Quantitative data is classified by attributes of numerical values, i.e. elevation, temperature, etc.. Qualitative data is classified by attributes focusing on the quality of the map subject, i.e. region data

    Tip: View the Quantification section from the Intermediate Map Design Map Academy course
    Are your data normalized? Read this encyclopedia page about normalization of data
    Do you need to show multiple layers to differentiate hierarchies in your data? Add layers with the CARTO Editor

    See the Create Visualization vs. Create Layer section of The Map Academy course, CARTO.js
    Do you want to use QGIS to analyze your data? If you prefer using QGIS to analyze your data, install the CARTO plugin for QGIS. This plug-in enables you to continue to use QGIS tools while connected to CARTO. For more overview details, see the blogpost Now You Can Work with CARTO in QGIS
    Apply the CARTO Analyzing dataset algorithm to visualize your map? This analytical tool analyzes the data in each column of your connected dataset, predicts how to visualize the data, and shows you snapshots of some visualized maps. You can select one of the possible map styles and automatically apply the CartoCSS code, or ignore the analyzing dataset suggestions. For more information, see Analyzing your Dataset

    4. Designing your Map

    The following table describes the best practices checklist for selecting the right design options for your map.

    Selecting your map design CARTO Feature
    Are the symbols and colors appropriate for the type of data you are mapping? Think about how color ramps and quantitative vs. qualitative data appear on your map

    Tip: See the Introduction to Map Design Map Academy course about Colors, Truth, & Insights. Additionally, see the individual description about Color Ramp from the CARTO Editor Wizards documentation
    What basemap theme do you want to use? Apply a basemap theme. You can also include an external basemap and create your own custom basemap. See the CARTO Basemaps website page for an overview of Positron and Dark Matter basemaps

    Tip: See the blogpost, Make a Thematic Map of Current Drought Conditions, for an example of identifying the right basemap for the map’s purpose
    Do you want to use CartoCSS to customize styling? Apply CartoCSS for advanced styling; specifically in regards to color and color blending, symbols, fonts, markers, alignment, borders, and so on.

    Note: You can use CartoCSS to ensure that all your map information (such as fonts, label size, label color, etc.) is legible, scaled, and aligned on the map

    Tip: See the Intermediate Map Design course about What are Composite Operations? for details about how CartoCSS composite operations style the way colors of overlapping geometries interact with each other

    5. Adding Map Elements

    The following table describes the best practices checklist for adding map elements to further enhance your map.

    Adding style elements to your map CARTO Feature
    Does your map need to show additional interactivity for select data? Add infowindow interactivity to display select data when clicking, or hovering, over data on your map. Ensure that it represents the clicked/hovered data correctly
    Does your map have a title? From your maps dashboard MAP VIEW, you can Add title item with the Add Element options

    Tip: Additionally, you can add other map elements such as a text block, annotation item, and image item. For details, see the CARTO Editor Add Element options
    Does your map include a legend, with symbols and descriptions representing the data? Add a map legend with the CARTO sidebar options of your MAP VIEW

    6. Publishing your Map

    Never assume what your audience knows, always describe the data you are presenting. The following table describes the best practices, final visualization checklist, for publishing and sharing your map.

    Publishing Checklist CARTO Feature
    Is your map previewing correctly? Preview and test your map for mobile and desktop output. You can also use CARTO.js for mobile visualization API requests

    See this blogpost, Guest Post: CartoDB Goes Native Mobile Interactive with Nutiteq’s Android SDK for a use case about creating a map specifically for mobile interactivity
    How do you plan to distribute your map? Will your maps be private or public? Map Privacy is set with the map metadata options. Map metadata is stored separately from your dataset metadata. This enables you to share maps while protecting each layer of data
    Does your map include the proper citations about your data source and how you created the map? See Attribution Requirements for Publishing and Sharing Maps
    Do you want to get a link to share your map, embed it to a website or blog, or add your map to another application? See details for how to publish and share your map