Every point on the earth can be described by two numbers, neither larger than 180. Most of us even have devices that will tell us the exact point where we’re standing. The set of numbers are coordinates, referred to as latitude and longitude. Alone these numbers aren’t particularly useful. We instead want to add them to a map. There are many ways to enter latitude and longitude into Google Maps and other online maps. We’ll cover many of them below and even help you discover where you can find some coordinates to try it out yourself.
For now, let’s say you have a latitude and longitude and you’re ready to see it on a Google Map.
Use Google Search
That’s right, you can go straight to the simplest page on the Internet—google.com—and enter your latitude and longitude into the search box. Usually coordinates are listed with latitude first, then longitude. Double check that is the case and that you’ve included a comma between the numbers.
Let’s say these are your coordinates:
At the top of the search results, you’ll see an image representing those coordinates on a map. In this case, that’s somewhere along the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco! Click the image and you’ll be taken to the full Google Maps version of the same location. There’s a single map marker at the location you searched.
In fact, you can go directly to Google Maps and use its search. You can even get directions from one set of coordinates to another. Google Maps treats latitude and longitude like any other search term, allowing you to specify the exact location.
You can even link to Google Maps by latitude and longitude point. For example, here’s the quickest way to the map at the Golden Gate coordinates:
Including more than one or two markers on a map is a bit more complex. Before we get to that, where do you find all these coordinates to map in the first place?
Find Latitude and Longitude Points
Before you can put latitude and longitude on a Google Map, you need to find the numbers. Once you start looking out for them, you may notice them all over the place. Any time you use maps or other location apps on your smart phone, there are latitudes and longitudes under the covers, for example.
You can get a GPS app for your phone that will show your current location. To be the most readily useful, ensure you can receive the coordinates in decimal notation. Often, a GPS app (such as iPhone’s Compass app) will display in degrees. To be ready for Google Maps, you’ll probably have to convert those coordinates, so it’s best to find an app that has them ready as a pair of decimal numbers.
A great way to find latitude and longitude points without having to visit the location is to use Wikipedia. Most articles for cities, places, and landmarks have the coordinates listed in the upper right of the page. By convention, Wikipedia shows these in degree notation. However, click the coordinates and you’ll be taken to a page that provides the decimal conversion.
Lastly, Google provides this tool, embedded below
You can enter an address, postal code, landmark, or other location and get its latitude and longitude values. You can even explore a map, find the spot you want, and click. Try it above.
Create a Google Map Listing Many Locations
It’s one thing to plot a single point on a map or to discover the coordinates for all your favorite places. Next you need to get them all on a map. For programmers, Google includes a Google Maps API. As we discuss in our tutorial, that’s definitely the hard way to map multiple locations.
Most users of our mapping tool simply have a spreadsheet with addresses. Simply copy and paste the entire spreadsheet and we’ll create a map that you can view online, embed in your website, and share with others.
The tool also works with latitude and longitude points. Just include them as two columns in your spreadsheet, then copy and paste all your data in. We created a more detailed walkthrough of mapping latitude and longitude points using BatchGeo, which goes through the process step by step.
Are you ready to try it out? Create your first map right now.
The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but how long is that line? When it comes to those two points, you may know them as GPS coordinates, or you may only have addresses. Even if you know each latitude and longitude, the math behind the distance calculation is complicated. There are several approaches and tools you can use to make it easier, even bringing the calculations to every row of a spreadsheet. We’ll cover a few options below to get you started with calculating distances.
Many Distances from a Single Place
Calculating a single distance is easy. In fact, we do it all the time using Google Maps and other directions services. Of course, that distance is typically a driving distance instead of the straight line distance. Nevertheless, when you find yourself needing to know multiple distances, the most common reason is you want to find out which locations are closest to single point, such as your current location.
Let’s say you have a spreadsheet of addresses of your city’s mechanics. Your car is broken down and you don’t want to have to push or tow it any farther than necessary.
Add your address, or the address of wherever you want to use as a reference location in the first row of your spreadsheet, just after the header row.
Now highlight and copy your entire spreadsheet (including the header row) and paste it into our simple map making tool. Click Validate and Set Options, then choose Advanced Options. Check the option to calculate distance from the first address. Then click Make Map.
View Santa Monica Mechanics in a full screen map
Now when you see the map, the distance is listed along with the other data with each marker. Since we used letters to label the markers, we know that Marker A is our first row, which is used to calculate the distance for all the other markers.
Break Out Your Digital Measuring Tape
Calculating the distance across all your locations is incredibly useful. Yet, sometimes you want to perform ad hoc measurements between many markers. That’s where the measuring tools that are part of BatchGeo’s Advanced Mode come in handy.
You can check whether Advanced Mode is active, and activate it if necessary, using the Pro menu in the upper right corner of any map. You must be a BatchGeo Pro member and logged in to use Advanced Mode. If Advanced Mode is active, you’ll see several buttons near the zoom controls in the upper left corner of your map.
Select the measuring tool, the button with a ruler icon. The hand cursor will become a plus sign target. Now click and hold where you want to begin a measurement (such as one of the markers). Next, drag the cursor to the end of your measurement. As you drag, you’ll see the current distance from the initial point to the current cursor. To switch between metric and imperial systems, click the scale on the bottom right of the map.
Deploy the Haversine Formula in Your Spreadsheet
The absolute best way to view geographic data is from a map, which is why BatchGeo lets you map Excel data (and other spreadsheets) with our simple copy-paste interface. However, if you need the distances in your spreadsheet directly, you’ll need to include a complex series of functions.
Let’s say you know the latitude and longitude points of those mechanics stored in columns B (latitude) and C (longitude) of your spreadsheet. Using a formula derived from this site, you could calculate the distance from Fleece’s Greases (row 3) to your location (row 2) using this formula:
=3958*ACOS(SIN(B$2*PI()/180)*SIN(B3*PI()/180) + COS(B$2*PI()/180)*COS(B3*PI()/180)*COS(C3*PI()/180-C$2*PI()/180))
You can change the 3,958 — the approximate radius of the earth in miles — to another unit, such as kilometers (6,371), meters (6,371,000), or feet (20,898,240). The rest is advanced math based on the spherical law of cosines. The important parts are the B$2 and C$2, which ensure you’ll compare other rows in the spreadsheet to your location, affixed in that second row. When you copy and paste this formula, the other fields will update to correctly reference the current row.
The haversine formula only works if you know your latitude and longitude points. If all you have is addresses, BatchGeo can help: create a map with measurements from a single distance (as in the first section above), and copy the data back out to your spreadsheet. Go to edit your map, copy the entire data, and you’ll see the distance as the final column when you paste into an empty spreadsheet.
The best part is that your map will still be there as a visual representation of the same data. Naturally, we think a map is a great way to augment the data in your spreadsheet. These different methods of calculating distances have varied levels of difficulty and usefulness, depending on the data you have available. Why not try creating a map now for free?
It’s been 100 years since 1917, a year clouded with events mostly centered in Europe. World War I had dragged on since 1914 with little hope of peace or victory. Though involved in the war, Russia had a lot more to consider when its government collapsed in February. Many of the events of 1917 fall into these two categories, but as you’ll see on the map below, there was a lot going on that year. Peruse the map, or read on for highlights from one hundred years ago.
View 1917: Map of Historical Significance in a full screen map
World War I
The Western Front is the most well known area of warfare, but it was hardly the only place to see action. The west was the primary battlefield, but remember the war initially broke out due to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in eastern Europe. Among the countries with WWI-related events, based on Wikipedia’s list, are Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, England, Estonia, France, Germany, Iraq, Ireland, Isle of Wight, Israel (then Palestine), Italy, Jordan, Mozambique, Russia, Scotland, Serbia, Spain, Ukraine, and the United States. There’s a good reason it became known as a World War.
Using the map above, click the WWI category to restrict only those events related to WWI on the map. Now you’ll see how widespread the markers are, though there’s clearly a cluster around Europe and the Middle East. Most of the far-flung locations are declarations of war from the likes of the United States, Brazil, and China. Interestingly, one outlier was actually a battle. In November, Germany and Portugal battled near the border of modern-day Mozambique and Tanzania. Outside of very northern Egypt, on the Sinai Peninsula, that’s the only notable event of 1917 in Africa.
Other 1917 WWI events include a battle led by Lawrence of Arabia, anarchists in Milan, and a Russian mutiny in Ukraine.
In March 2017, members of the Tsar’s Imperial Parliament formed a provisional government, which encouraged Tsar Nicholas to abdicate his role of Emperor. Later in the year, the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, would overthrow the provisional government and establish what eventually became the Soviet Union. Quite a year, right?
Most of the revolution took place in Saint Petersburg, the capital then known as Petrograd. It’s the marker near Finland, which has 14 separate events
As part of the Russian Revolution, other countries once ruled by Russia asserted their independence, including Georgia, Estonia, and Finland.
Other Political Events
With a war and a major revolution, there was plenty of politics happening all over the world. Among them: Sweden received two new prime ministers in the same year. Canada enacted its first income tax. And Mexico enacted a new constitution.
The United States joined the war early in 1917, but still had plenty of action on the homefront. In March, Jeannette Rankin could not even vote for herself when she became the first woman in the US House of Representatives (representing Montana). In the Caribbean, the US purchased the Virgin Islands and granted Puerto Ricans US citizenship.
You can see other political happenings on the map by clicking Politics the the Category selection.
1917 was definitely a year for war, politics, and revolution, but here are a few other highlights from the year:
- The NHL is formed in Montreal
- Children in Portugal claim to see Mary, mother of Jesus
- The first Pulitzer Prize is awarded in New York City
- Bombs, crashes, and explosions galore—click the Distaster category to see more
It was a raucous year and here we are, one hundred years later. Click around to see more, or plot some history with your own map today.
Are you going to travel to any new countries, states, or cities this year? How many have you already visited? Many people have goals to visit a certain number of new places every year, or a big total like 50 or 100 countries in their lifetime. Now is a great time to make such a resolution—and there is no better way to track it than a map.
View Which Countries Have I Visited? in a full screen map
Take the example above, which shows the countries I’ve visited in green. The nations I want to visit are in red. You can make your own map almost entirely from your spreadsheet. That way, you can easily update it every time you visit a new place. Follow the steps below to create your own “been there, not done that” type of map. Or, get really creative and plot anything that fits the pattern.
How to Map Where You’ve Been
Creating a map of the countries you’ve visited is as simple as making a list. In fact, you don’t even need to use a spreadsheet unless you want to (though it will make the next step easier). Just start your list with “Country” as the heading and put each country on its own line.
I put mine into Excel, and then highlighted the entire list. Don’t worry if you forget one—you can go back and edit it later. Copy your list and head over to the mapping tool on our homepage. Just paste the list into the big box at the top of the page. To get going quickly, just click “Map Now.” We’ll show some other cool settings in the next step.
Faster than it likely took you to remember the countries you’ve visited, you now have a map. The marker pin is plotted into roughly the center of the country, based on the coordinates we get back from the Google Geocoder we use. When you visit another country (or realize you forgot one), just add it to your list, then copy the entire list into this map (we’ll email you a link you can use to edit the map).
How to Map Where You Want to Go
Maps get really fun and useful when you have multiple types of data represented on the same map. Let’s make that map show not only where you’ve been, but where you want to go.
Now is the time where it’s useful to keep this data in a spreadsheet. If you haven’t already, copy your list of countries visited into Excel, Google Sheets, or a similar program for storing data as a table. Now add a second column, just to the right of the country column. Let’s call it Type.
We’ll have two types for this map: Been and Want. You can name them whatever you want. You could even add other types to describe how much you want to go, or maybe to list places you don’t want to go. That’s up to you, but we’ll stick to the simple two type map for this example. Write “Been” in the Type column for all the countries you’ve visited. Now add some countries you want to visit in the Country column, and write “Want” in the Type column for each of those.
Now take those two columns, including the headers, and paste them into BatchGeo. This time, instead of simply making the map, click Validate & Set Options. Make sure the Region is set to International. Set the Country to your country field. Group By may already be selected as Type, but you can double check, then click Advanced Options. In the Marker colors section you can choose from the colors to represent each of your marker types.
Click the Make Map button and away you go. Now you have a map of everywhere you’ve been… and everywhere you want to go! You can also use this same process for many different types of maps, like the one below that shows where the Olympics have been, as well as where they will be going in the future.
Where Were the Olympics?
View Olympics Locations in a full screen map
For over 100 years, the Olympics have brought the world together to compete in many countries. Above you see a modification of the visited countries map to show where athletes have competed in the Olympics. You’ll also notice a handful of markers representing the cities that are to be homes of future olympics.
What other data do you have—perhaps sitting on your hard drive as spreadsheets—that would be better represented as a map?
Part of the magic of BatchGeo is that we create maps from your existing Excel files and other spreadsheets. Just copy-paste and you’re done. That said, there are a some simple things you can do to increase the accuracy of turning that list of addresses into a fantastic map. Some recent changes to the geocoder we use makes formatting and arranging your data even more important.
BatchGeo relies on Google Maps for the visual maps platform, as well as the geocoder, which we use to convert addresses and other locations into coordinates to plot on your maps. A recent update from Google is more strict with what they call “ambiguous addresses.” The change promises better performance, which could mean your data is mapped even faster. For this benefit, you’ll want to pay closer attention to your formatting, so we’ve compiled a few tips for making better map data.
Identify Your Location Columns
When you paste your data into BatchGeo, we attempt to guess at the structure of your location columns. Using your header names, we take a stab at the address, city, state, and postal code. In fact, you can use the headers from our Excel Spreadsheet Template to ensure we’ll get it right.
Of course, you don’t need to change your column names just for us. As you create a map, you can choose Validate & Set Options to see our guess. You also have the opportunity to override our guesses. Just match each dropdown to the field in your spreadsheet. If you don’t have a postal code, for example, just choose “none.”
BatchGeo uses these location columns to prepare a formatted, unambiguous address to send to the Google Geocoder. Here’s how the recent update describes address formatting:
Compared to other Google APIs, the Geocoding API provides the best quality matching of addresses globally for these types of complete, unambiguous queries. However, Geocoding API is not recommended if your application handles ambiguous or incomplete queries, such as “123 Main St”, or if it handles queries that may contain non-address information such as apartment numbers or business names.
Since the majority of BatchGeo customers are mapping full addresses, we anticipate few issues, as long as your data is properly formatted. If you’ve previously mapped business or landmark names, you may see an increase in un-mappable locations. We’ll certainly be keeping an eye on it and also welcome your feedback.
Beware Numeric Postal Codes
In addition to identifying columns within your data, you should pay close attention to one field in particular. Postal codes that contain only numbers, such as Zip codes in the United States, can sometimes be misinterpreted. If your postal code starts with a zero—as is the case in seven northeastern U.S. states, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands, plus European military and diplomatic mail—Excel needs to treat it as text, not a number.
Consider this data for three baseball stadiums in the US:
|Boston Red Sox||Fenway Park||4 Yawkey Way||Boston||MA||02215|
|New York Yankees||Yankee Stadium||One East 161st Street||Bronx||NY||10451|
|Philadelphia Phillies||Citizens Bank Park||One Citizens Bank Way||Philadelphia||PA||19148|
If you copy and paste that into a spreadsheet, you’ll find Fenway Park’s Zip code will go from five digits to four. What’s the difference?
The leading zero, of course. When treated as a number, 02215 becomes 2215. If you copied that spreadsheet data into BatchGeo, it would come without the zero, which could cause issues with the geocoder.
The solution in Excel is fairly simple:
- Select the entire postal code column
- Choose the Format menu, then Cells
- Click Text for the category of the field
You should be able to make similar formatting adjustments in other spreadsheet tools. One quick way to spot a numeric field: it’s right-aligned. Once you make your postal code into text, it should be left-aligned.
Now when you copy your spreadsheet to BatchGeo, the entire postal code (including any leading zeroes) will come along for the ride.
Better Performance Through Formatting
Now that your columns are identified, your addresses are complete, and your postal codes aren’t dropping zeroes, you’re ready to make some maps. With the latest Google changes, they promise to be even faster than our already fast geocoding.
We’ll naturally be watching these changes to see how our service and customers are affected. If you notice anything you think we should check out, be sure to let us know.