map legend settings cover
The map's legend is one of the most important features of every map, so let's make sure it appears properly.

Your map’s legend¬†defines features¬†in your map. It essentially displays the symbol followed by a text description of what each symbol represents.

In the case of maps created with MapChart, the legend consists of the map’s title and below it, small rectangles that signify each color on the map along with their description/label.

You can check the default legend on this example map (created with the new Advanced World map page):

Example of the default legend of MapChart. Projection used is Winkel Tripel.

This certainly works well for most cases. It is clear and there are no elements overlapping with the legend. Importantly, there is also enough contrast to make it stand out and be legible.

However, if we were to also show on the map some of the features of the Advanced World map, like the time zones or the Earth’s grid, we would face some issues:

world advanced map with default legend style
The same map as above, with extra geographical features shown.

Immediately we notice that the legend area has become more tangled up, with all the lines behind it.

We can still read it, but suppose we had created a map of EU NUTS3 divisions like this one:

eu-nuts-3-default-legend-no-background map
A map of EU NUTS3 divisions focused on France, Germany and BeNeLux.

The legend is now somewhere inside Ireland! We could certainly hide Ireland altogether from the map, but since it is better to preserve all the map’s elements for clarity’s sake, we need to change our legend’s styling.

This new feature of MapChart lets you control 3 basic properties of the legend’s design: the font used, its color, and the background color of the legend.

You can find these by clicking the Style… button in Step 2 of the map making process. From the default settings:

default legend settings

we can now try changing the background to a semi-transparent cyan and the font to a dark red color:

semi transparent bg legend settings
Notice the opacity (transparency) of the background color picker.

With these two simple strokes, the map already looks more stylish and above all, the legend is more legible:

map with semi transparent background legend
The same World map as before, with a better-looking legend.

This way, we can simultaneously easily read the legend and also check the geographical lines behind it.

There are many settings to choose from for the legend. You could try a different font, like Consolas (a monospace font):

custom font background color legend settings 1

Or, go for a light font on a solid darker background, which would be especially useful when there are elements behind the legend:

custom font background color legend settings 2

The issue with the EU NUTS3 map can now be solved easily:

eu nuts 3 dark legend

There are currently 7 different fonts to choose from. I plan to add more in the future, after doing some necessary testing.

The preselected palettes for the font color and the background of the legend are limited to 54 and 36 colors respectively. The reason for this is to make it quicker to choose from some of the most suitable colors for a legend. However, as always, you can choose any color you want by clicking the more button inside the color pickers.

I am really looking forward to seeing how you style your legend; the possibilities are (almost) limitless.

Make your own map with MapChart and fully customize it as you need!