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.

MapChart features a fully customizable legend, that updates live on the map when you make any change to it:

A sample US states map created with MapChart.

This way, you are always in control of what the final map looks like. You can customize the following legend settings:

  • Background color
  • Font
  • Font color
  • Position
  • Size
  • Visibility

You can find these by clicking the Legend Options… button in Step 2 of the map making process.

Changing legend’s styling

From the default settings:

legend options

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

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, you 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):


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 and dark background for legend

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

eu nuts 3 dark legend

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.

Changing legend position and size

From the same section, you can also set the legend’s position and size:

Select position and size for the legend.

Or, even better, resize and move around the legend directly on the map, like this:

I am really looking forward to seeing how you style your legend! With the new legend settings, the possibilities are (almost) limitless.

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