Did you know that a zip code is more than just a handy tool for sorting mail? These government-assigned five-digit numbers are also convenient for cartographers. You can turn that into relevant map data if you have the zip codes for a specific area. Keep reading to learn how to make a map from zip codes, including the advantages and various “create map from zip codes” tools.
Why Plot Zip Codes on a Map
If you’re familiar with cartography or mapping, you may wonder why you should plot zip codes on a map. Here are a few reasons why:
- Accessibility. Unlike other sample data types, a zip code is relatively easy to find. Say you want to draw up a map going from your house to a friend’s house, to a nearby restaurant. Just Google it, and you’ll see the zip codes you need. Or, if you’re more familiar with the area, you might already know them.
- Easy to understand. It isn’t ideal for the casual cartographer to dig through intense spreadsheet data like decimal degrees and decimal minute seconds. A five-digit zip code simplifies the process.
- Real-world application. Unlike other methods, zips correspond to actual addresses, making them more useful. Many folks can name areas where certain zips begin and end, also known as zip code boundaries. They know where people with the same code live versus others.
Ways to Use Location Data and Zip Code Maps
Now that you know why creating maps from zip codes is worth it, let’s get into the application. Here are the top four ways to use zip code maps.
All map apps, from Wayze to Yahoo maps, recognize postal codes. If you have an address with a zip code, you can locate it with one of these maps. That’s what makes postal code maps so great for recreational use. Whether planning a road trip, a backpacking excursion, or the fastest route for your carpool, do it with postal codes.
Heat maps refer to maps that show the density or concentration of points in a specific location. The more points in one area, the higher the “heat.” You can use postal to create heat maps. Enter map zip codes into a heat map software. Then, you’ll see what areas within zip code boundaries have the highest concentration of data points.
This is especially useful for service area businesses. A visual service area map of area codes makes it easier for sales teams to see where their clients are. They can learn more about where they should focus their marketing efforts or how to expand their work.
Get even more specific with heat maps through comparison analysis. You can link zip code boundaries to other consumer information like age and sex. That way, you can see what segments of your customers live where and in what amounts.
This is one of the ways that government agencies use census data, for example. When they collect information about all the residents of specific geographic areas, they can see demographic trends.
Here’s another way a service area business use zip code-based mapping: territory definition. Many companies use these codes as a clear-cut, easy way to define sales territories. One group of codes on their territory map corresponds to one salesperson, while another group belongs to someone else’s territories.
Using Zip Codes Vs. Latitude and Longitude Coordinates
We mentioned earlier that a zip code isn’t the only way to plot maps. Latitude and longitude data are one of the most popular mapping methods. While you can draw maps with the latter, it’s much harder for the average person to find or understand. We don’t use lat and long in daily life. You won’t find it listed next to most businesses.
If you’re creating maps for basic needs like mapping out territories, stick with the simplicity of postal codes. However, opt for longitude and latitude if you need something more technical and precise and have advanced knowledge about cartography.
How To Create a Zip Code Map: 3 Different Methods
Now that you’ve got the basics down let’s dive into how you plot zip codes on a map. One of the disadvantages of mapping with zip codes? Many paper maps or apps don’t show zip code boundaries. That’s because these aren’t physical, visible lines, much like longitude and latitude.
To easily generate a postal code map, use something with cutting-edge mapping APIs to turn postal codes into geographic data. Here are a few options for your consideration.
Create Zip Code Map Charts with Excel
Did you know you can create zip code map charts with Microsoft Excel functions? Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating map charts:
- Enter your own data and corresponding postal codes in separate columns.
- Highlight those columns, navigate to the bar at the top of the page, and click “Insert.”
- Click on “Maps,” and you’ll see a drop-down menu. Click on the globe icon that appears in that menu.
And that’s it — you created a map. You can toggle between a default map view or a close-up that only includes the area with your data. What’s the downside to this select method? For one, it’s glitchy and slow. It takes a lot of your computer’s energy to generate these charts.
For another, it works best as a heat map. For example, you could use it to show the population of people in different postal codes in a state. But it doesn’t show a few scattered data points very well. Finally, if you don’t already have Microsoft Office installed on your computer, you must buy it. Unfortunately, there’s no way to map postcodes from Excel “free version.”
Map Multiple Zip Codes with Google Maps
That’s right. Google is more than one of the leading search engines. It’s also among the most popular mapping services with a way to map multiple zip codes. To plot zip codes on a custom Google Maps, you’d need to use their API, which is relatively user-friendly.
The downside of Google’s very own interactive map apps is that you don’t get full functionality. You can create a service area map with zip code labels and boundaries. But you can’t make something more advanced like a heat map.
Plot Zip Codes on a Map for Free with Zip Code Map Creator Tools
If you’re looking to plot zip codes on a map for free, try Zip code map creator tools. These online services allow you to copy and paste your data into a map-maker. Many of these services are free or offer a basic free tier with other more in-depth services for money.
You can use coordinates or information like an address, city, state, zipcode, or country. Then, you can save your own custom map online, use a unique map link to access it anywhere or download it.
How to Create Map from Zip Codes Using Mapize Zip Code Map Maker
Are you interested in turning GPS data into maps? Mapize’s zip code map maker allows you to do so easily using only zip codes!
- Input your zip codes into a spreadsheet or Google sheet.
- Copy all your data from the spreadsheet, and paste it into Mapize’s map-making tool in the location data box to the right. Or, save your sheet as a CSV file and upload it in the “Drag and Drop” section on the left. You can also upload your Excel or CSV file to build a map with zip codes. Click the “Select A File” Button to use this method and upload a file from your computer or mobile device.
- Click “Create Map.”
- Next, you’ll see a geo-decoding section. Under the “Location/address” field, select “Name.” If you have any other location information, fill that out in the corresponding fields (like state and country). Under “Group by/Thematic value,” select the one that applies to your data set. For example, click that if you’d like it grouped by name. If you want it grouped by a group designated in your sheet, click “Group.”
- Once you’ve finished your selections, hit “Make Map.”
- Click “Save Map and Continue.”
Mapize provides many ways to create maps using different types and combinations of location data.
Additionally, you can access and save your maps in various ways. You can:
- Save unlisted private maps under a private link
- Password protect maps for personal use
- Download maps to your computer or mobile device
- Embed map links into your personal website.
Our zip code tool lets you customize and view your map in countless ways. This includes a heat map maker by zip code. There’s also our free geographical heat map generator. With Mapize, you can create service area map charts, an editable zip code map, a postcode plotter, and more. We also have zip code locator software and zip code to city converter settings to visualize your stats!
You don’t just have to create a map from zip codes, either. Whatever geography data type you want to turn into a map, try Mapize’s convenient and interactive software. Take a look at what Mapize offers and build your first custom map for free.