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Maps & Geospatial: ArcGIS Online

This guide provides an introduction to using ArcGIS Online. ArcGIS Online enables the creation of web maps, web applications, and geospatial analysis projects to communicate with broad audiences related to spatial topics.

Accessing ArcGIS StoryMaps

Penn State has an ArcGIS Online organizational account accessible via your Penn State Web Access. Please visit the PSU GIS User software page for more information on accessing ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Pro, and ArcMap. 

Launch App Launcher for StoryMaps

  1. From the launch pad area (9 dots) to the left of your name. Click StoryMaps.

  2. From My Stories, click create a new story to launch the StoryMap Builder. Choose from scratch and add sections, or you can start with sidecar, guided maps, or explorer stories.

  3. Add a title to your storymap, and include a subtitle as desired. 

  4. Click the add image option to add a background image. 

  5. Click the (+) icon to add more content. You can add text, maps, images, timelines, slide shows etc.  Keep adding content as needed.

Add Media Content to StoryMap

  1. Click the (+) icon to add more content. Select desired options of text, maps, media, and additional options. 

  2. Text: Select the text type (paragraph, headings, bullets, numbered lists), style (bold, italics).

  3. Images: Upload and browse to your files. Locate the saved image file. Alternatively, an url link to an image can be used. Hover over the image to get to the settings. Enter attribution for image. Enter alternative text.

  4. Video: Click the video option. Locate embed code for web video and paste into box. Select how you want the video to appear on the screen

Map Tour

  1. To create a map, select “Map Tour” from the content list
  2. Select the tour from scratch or by uploading photos
  3. Choose your layout:
    1. Guided puts the photos/locations in an order you choose, and viewers will scroll through (recommended)
    2. Explorer puts all the points/locations on a map and viewers will have to select a point to click on to see the content 
    3. Map focused has the map as the primary component, with text and images to the side (recommended)
    4. Media focused has the image as the primary component, with the map and text to the side.
  4. Create location by adding an image or video, Title, description
  5. “Add location” to find it on the map.  Use the search by location or pan and zoom in to the location
  6. Click Add Location
  7. Click the (+) to add more locations
  8. Reorder your locations by dragging in the map tour
  9. Customize your map. Click on the “gear” or “Map options” button. 
  10. Select a basemap.  Select one that looks best at your zoom level and isn’t too busy.  Some basemaps will show aerial images and some just roads. Selecting a basemap has a dramatic effect on what your map looks like. 
  11. Select point color.  You can use the preset colors, or change to any color you like.  Make sure the color has good contrast compared to your basemap.  Preset colors are selected for good contrast.
  12. Click “done”

Create an Express Map

  1. Select the “Map” content type
  2. Click on the add “New Express Map” button 
  3. Search for your location
  4. Add points by selecting the point tool.  You can number the points
    1. Add an image and text and click “Done”
  5. Use arrow tool to draw arrows to show movement
  6. Add text
  7. Hover over the map to edit the map, add alt text or choose where you want the express map to show on your page
  8. Click the gear towards the top of the side panel for additional settings including: turning on the legend and changing the basemap.
  9. Click “Done”

Add a Web map to StoryMap

  1. Click under the title/text section so that the (+) options become available.

  2. Click Map.

  3. Under My Maps choose map created with demographic or thematic layers.

  4. Click Place Map.


  1. Click the (+) for options.
  2. Select Timeline.
  3. Choose your layout. Current options are waterfall, single side, or condensed.
  4. Add dates and tex. Hover over element and you will see the option to an image.

Publishing and Sharing a StoryMap

  1. ​​​​​​StoryMap content saves automatically, to share it with others you need to publish it. 

  2. At the top of the page, click the Publish button.  Select desired options for sharing, including individual, organization, public, and/or group options.