How to Plot Latitude and Longitude on a Map

For hundreds—maybe thousands—of years, it was hard to make maps. People dedicated their entire lives to the craft. While that’s still true today, now there are tools that enable cartographers to share their work so others can build upon their maps. Most importantly, there is a coordinate system that makes it easy for ordinary people to understand and describe points on the earth. While latitude and longitude points have ben around for centuries, GPS and web maps have greatly enabled our ability to use them.

A Quick Latitude/Longitude Refresher

X/Y coordinates graphBack in algebra class, you spent way too much time plotting points, lines, and expressions on a grid. These x/y graphs are a simple way to think of latitude (the y axis) and longitude (the x axis). Of course, the earth is not flat, nor even perfectly round, so the reality is more complex. But to make most maps, this is all you need to know.

Latitude of zero is along the equator. Using decimal notation, latitude extends north to 90 degrees and south to -90 degrees. Longitude doesn’t have an obvious zero marker, so the British made one up at the Greenwich Observatory in London. Everything due North and South of that point is zero longitude. To the east, the numbers increase until 180 degrees on the other side of the earth from London. To the west, the numbers decrease until -180 degrees meets 180 degrees in the middle of the ocean.

When we put latitude and longitude together, they form a pair of numbers that can be plotted on a map. For example, zero latitude and -78.455833 longitude is the Mitad del Mundo in Quito, Ecuador, a monument to “the middle of the earth.” If you go to 51.500833 latitude and -0.141944 longitude, you’ll find Buckingham Palace, across town from the Observatory (notice the near-zero longitude).

Often you’ll see decimal notation listed as a pair of coordinates separated by a comma. For example, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is at 37.819722,-122.478611. When working with coordinates, be sure that you know which number is listed first. You can do this by sanity checking a known location. In this case, you know San Francisco is in the western hemisphere and should have a negative longitude. Also, latitudes are never greater than 90, so that’s another hint here. We go into some greater detail on other ways coordinates are formatted in our latitude and longitude coordinates page.

Mapping a List of Coordinates

Now that you have the basics of latitude and longitude down, let’s make a map! If you know how to code, you could use the Google Maps API directly. But that’s the hard way to make a map. Let’s look at what it takes to build a map from a simple spreadsheet.

Let’s say our spreadsheet looks something like this (your own version probably has many more rows):
Example spreadsheet with coordinates

Due to potential confusion over the order of coordinates, it’s a good idea to separate them out. Here’s a quick way to do that using Excel-compatible formulas:

  1. Add two new columns titled Latitude and Longitude
    Spreadsheet, now with latitude and longitude columns
  2. To find the number to the left of the comma (latitude in our example), use the formula =LEFT(F2, FIND(“,”, F2)-1) where F2 is the first cell with the pair of coordinates. Then copy that formula down the column.
    Spreadsheet with Latitude column
  3. To find the number to the right of the comma (longitude in our example), use the formula =RIGHT(F2, LEN(F2)-FIND(“,”, F2)) where F2 is the cell with the first pair of coordinates.
    Spreadsheet with Longitude column

To account for the presence of a space after the comma, you can put a TRIM function around each of those formulas. But that’s optional. The important part is separating the coordinates.

View Example Latitude/Longitude Map in a full screen map

Now you can copy your spreadsheet rows, including the header, by highlighting and using the Ctrl+C command (Cmd+C on Mac) to copy it to your clipboard. Now, go to this map-making tool and paste (Ctrl+V, or Cmd+V on Mac) your spreadsheet data into the box. The result is a beautiful web map like the one above, ready to be saved and shared.

Use Geocoding to Find Coordinates of Addresses

If you don’t already have latitude and longitude points for your data, you can use our batch geocoding tool. You can convert addresses, postal codes, city names, and even some landmarks into coordinates and plot them on a map. Just copy and paste your spreadsheet data into the box.

Make your first map now for free.

A Heat Map Function for Your Excel Spreadsheet

Heat Map feature in BatchGeoMore data does not produce more insights unless you have a way to analyze the data. In fact, that’s why there are hundreds of functions build into Excel and other spreadsheet software. The functions are what make up its most important functionality. Yet, you can’t use =HEATMAP to create a visualization of geographic density in your data. But what if that was almost as easy as an Excel function?

If you’ve spent any time using Excel, you’ve likely spent what feels like a similar amount of time searching the internet for help with its functions. You probably have come across many custom functions written by other Excel enthusiasts. Though the authors mean well, these sub-routines are often hard to use and have questionable security. For this and other reasons, BatchGeo made sense as a separate web service. We make Google Maps—and heat map overlays—as easy as copy and paste.

How to Make a Google Map

In our in-depth Google Map tutorial, we show some of the technical steps you get to skip when you use BatchGeo. Here’s how to create a basic marker map, which we’ll convert to a heat map in the next section:

  1. In your spreadsheet, highlight and copy (Ctrl+C, or Cmd+C on Mac) all rows, including your header row.
  2. Go to our map making tool and paste (Ctrl+V, or Cmd+V on Mac) your data into the box.
  3. Click “Map Now” and follow the steps to complete your map. We make intelligent guesses of location columns, but you can override them in the Validate & Set Options menu.

You’ll see a preview of your map and, if it looks good, you can save it. Include your email address so you can make edits in the future.

Now you have a map like the one embedded above. All the other data in the map is browsable by clicking individual markers. And we even get an idea of their density by the overlapping markers.

But it’s not a heat map. Not yet.

How to Make a Heat Map From Your Excel Spreadsheet

Now that you have a Google Map, you can easily activate the heat map layer with Advanced Mode available in BatchGeo Pro (30 day money back guarantee).

While signed in and viewing your map:

  1. Ensure Advanced Mode is enabled by clicking your account menu in the upper right.
  2. Right click (Ctrl+click on Mac) over your map and select “Heat View”

The markers on your map will disappear and be replaced by a heat map view.

You can zoom and pan your heat map as you would any Google Map. Our customers have used heat maps to gain valuable insights from open data, competition research, and more. Many have made decisions that saved or made their company thousands of dollars, or more.

Some example heat map use cases include:

  • Map all places in a business category to determine potential new locations that are under-served.
  • Map customers or leads to choose equitable sales zones or regions.
  • Map a city’s violent crime to show hot spots for a comprehensive journalistic report.

It’s unlikely that Excel will soon have a =HEATMAP function of this caliber, so we’ve created our web service to fill this gap.

Try us out for free and create your first map.

Want to Buy a House? Make an Open House Map

Buying a house can be an intense experience. Every hour of available time can go to searching, researching, driving by, and viewing potential purchases. Unlike other things you buy, there are no five star reviews or apples-to-apples price comparisons. That’s why visiting a home and neighborhood are so important. To simplify viewings, many listings have open houses, which means buyers plan their Saturday and Sunday afternoons around hour ranges found in real estate listings. Many BatchGeo users have discovered how much easier the planning can be with a geographic view of their chosen open houses.

View Open Houses This Weekend in a full screen map

Your real estate map starts with a spreadsheet you’re using to track your potential future homes. What you include may vary, but it’s likely to have the address, price, and number of bedrooms and bathrooms. For open houses, you can separate out the timing into its own spreadsheet column. In the example map above, we can group by any of that data, which BatchGeo either shows as a range or unique values. Click a marker on the map and you’ll see all the data from the spreadsheet, including that open house timeframe.

Let’s see how you could create your own, how to skip the manual work, and look into a method you could use to simplify finding open houses while on the go.

Create a Real Estate Listings Spreadsheet

The modern real estate search includes looking at hundreds of listings on the web. You get new listings delivered to your inbox, and you scour search sites to find the neighborhoods and criteria you’re after. What do you do when you discover a potential choice? Before you see it, you need to track it.

For many, including BatchGeo users, the tracking happens in a spreadsheet. The header row includes the location columns, bedrooms, bathrooms, price, and open house times.

Real Estate spreadsheet

As you find the places you’re interested in seeing, just jot those pieces of info into a spreadsheet. If it’s worth the time to see, it’s worth the time to track in your spreadsheet. If it’s too much work, you may be able to use a site such as to convert website searches into downloadable data.

Group by Open House Hours

You may find yourself desiring even more automation, with a solution that tells you exactly the order to see the houses during your tours. This turns out to be difficult or inefficient (what Computer Scientists call the Traveling Salesman Problem). However, the BatchGeo mobile maps features can help you determine where to go next while you’re out and about. All it takes is a little more setup in your spreadsheet.

View Open Houses, Filter by Times in a full screen map

The above map has the same locations as the first map in this post, but we’ve added another eight columns to the spreadsheet for the potential open house hours. We noted that our listings started no earlier than 10:00 a.m. and ended no later than 2:00 p.m. — four potential hours for showings on Saturday and another four on Sunday. If you find yourself ready to go to an open house at 1:17 p.m. on Saturday, just group the “Sa1” field with “Y” to see the four listings that are open during the one o’clock hour.

Real Estate open house time columns

It’s a little more up-front work, but it helps you be able to filter your map in the moment. Can you fit one more viewing in? That depends on how close the open house listings are, a question you can arrange your spreadsheet and map to answer.

Are you ready to use BatchGeo to find your next home (or perhaps wow your home buyer clients)? See how BatchGeo can help you with mapping solutions for real estate.

Make Political Canvassing Maps for Door-to-door Volunteers

For those enabling political change, there’s no better way than face-to-face, one-on-one interaction. That’s where door-to-door political canvassing comes in. No matter the candidate or the level of office, a well-organized approach will help you more efficiently approach the right voters. That’s where a voter map could come in handy. BatchGeo makes turning a spreadsheet into a map as easy as copy-paste.

In the United States we have national elections at least every two years and local elections at least once per year. The biggest elections come every four years when the US President is elected, along with all members of the House of Representatives and roughly one-third of the Senate. That is the case in 2016. Since all political canvassing is at a local level, location plays a large role. Let’s see how political volunteers could use a map of locations for door-to-door canvassing.

View Example Political Canvassing Map in a full screen map

The above map is purely fictional, but included as an example of what a pair of canvassers might use. Though the addresses are real (taken from business listings in Santa Monica, California), the names are from a Star Wars character name generator. Volunteers might split the work up by Zip code, as shown here, other fields, or some other means. Read on to see some ideas for how to group voters for easy canvassing.

But first, you need your own list to visit, hopefully with the names of real voters.

Gather Your List of Addresses

One way to canvass is to go truly door-to-door, reaching everyone in a neighborhood. A map might not be as useful in that case, though you could potentially plot demographic data on a map and use that to select neighborhoods. However, the most efficient method involves direct targeting of individuals at specific locations. In this case, a map would be extremely useful.

Before you create your map, you need a list of addresses. These are the voters you and other volunteers will visit. There are several methods you can use to obtain names and addresses:

  • Your candidate or cause’s donors
  • Public voter registration records
  • Donor list of complementary cause or candidate
  • Consumer direct mail company lists

Obviously, check your local laws that might restrict privacy or other aspects of targeting individuals in this manner.

Create a Map of Voters

Now that you have a list of addresses, it’s likely stored in a spreadsheet-like format, such as CSV, XLS (Excel), or tab-delimited. Or maybe you keep it stored in a Google Spreadsheet. Regardless of the format, it’s best to open the document in some sort of spreadsheet software so you can confirm it displays in rows and columns and includes a header row at the top. Those labels help BatchGeo inspect your data, make assumptions, and display the data back on the map.

Example voter data

With data like the above, you can simply highlight all the cells, copy with Ctrl+C (Cmd+C on Mac), then paste into BatchGeo’s data box using Ctrl+V (Cmd+V on Mac).

BatchGeo makes some guesses about address, city, state, and postal code fields. You can click Validate & Set Options to check or correct these assumptions. Then map and our fast, accurate geocoder will convert every row of your spreadsheet into markers on your map.

Once you’ve saved your map, you can share any non-private map with everyone on your team by copying the URL. Private maps and more secure sharing is only available to Pro accounts.

Armed with their mobile-optimized voter maps, your volunteers are ready to hit the streets. Here are some ideas of how they might use the voter maps.

Group Voters by Zip Code or City

In many areas, your voters will be across multiple postal codes or even cities. If that is the case, you can use the BatchGeo grouping functionality to filter by unique values in that field. For example, you may have voters across six different Zip codes. Assign each volunteer one or more Zip codes and send them a link to your map.

Each volunteer can then choose Zip code in the grouping menu in the lower left. When they select their Zip code, the map will quickly filter to only the chosen Zip code. Choose a second Zip code and it will be added to the group that is displayed.

You can use this method to group by city or any field in your spreadsheet.

Group Voters by Volunteer

An alternative to assigning by region labels is to assign by volunteer in your spreadsheet. Simply add a new column to your spreadsheet called “Volunteer” and add the name of a volunteer for each row. When you paste your data into BatchGeo, it will make the volunteer name a grouping option.

You can use this method of pre-assigning records to spread the work equally between volunteers. Pre-assigning also simplifies what the volunteer needs to remember. Most people remember their name, while memorizing a list of Zip codes is much harder.

Group Voters by Last Name

Another way you could split up the efforts is to use alphabetical ranges by last name. For example, one person takes anyone whose names starts with A-M, the other takes N-Z. This is another circumstance where you need to add another column to your spreadsheet. However, in this case a spreadsheet can do most of the work for you.

Create a new column called “Alpha Range.” In the second row (just below the header), add the following formula:

=IF(CODE(UPPER(LEFT(B2, 1))) < CODE("N"), "A-M", "N-Z")

The formula assumes that the Last Name is in the B column, so adjust as necessary. Everything else should work for the example name ranges. If it's right for the first row, copy the cell and paste it for each additional row. The formula will update for the current row.

Now Go Ring Some Doorbells

Now you should have your list of voters, plan for how to group them, and a map displaying their locations. The only thing left to do is share the map with your team of volunteers and start going door to door. Get started with BatchGeo for free now.

Burn Rubber to These Michelin Three Star Restaurants

For over 100 years, a well known tire manufacturer has been publishing a list of restaurants around the world. A spot in The Michelin Red Guide is an honor to any restaurateur. The truly coveted accolades are the Michelin stars. Unlike the four and five star norm of movie critics or online product reviews, Michelin stars only go to three.

With millions of restaurants in the world, being a three Michelin star restaurant is incredibly rare. We’ve mapped the current recipients of the Guides highest honor, the 118 Three Star restaurants in the world.

View 3 Star Michelin Restaurants Worldwide in a full screen map

New Bedford Sea ScallopWhile the guide does not cover every region, its rankings still give an idea of culinary hot spots. Japan leads the way, its 29 three star restaurants the most of any other country. France, where the guide started in 1900, is second with 25 top-rated restaurants. The United States (14), Germany (11), Italy and Spain (tied with eight each) round our the top five.

London and New York may think they’re battling for top culinary city, but quantitatively it’s Tokyo and Paris. These two cities have more Michelin three star restaurants (10 each) than most countries covered in the Guide. Other top cities include Kyoto, Hong Kong, and New York, all with six restaurants on the list. London has only two (the entire United Kingdom only has four).

Unlike other awards like Oscars, it’s not as clear who becomes the recipient of the Michelin stars. Famous chefs like Gordon Ramsay boast having received more than 20, though some of those restaurants have had stars removed over the years. Celebrity chefs often go on to own many more restaurants than they can oversee as chef. Even at Ramsay’s eponymous three star Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London, the current chef is Clare Smyth.

The French Laundry

That said, there are three people considered the head chefs of multiple three star Michelin restaurants:

  1. Alain Ducasse helms three restaurants in three different countries: Louis XV in Monte Carlo, Monaco; Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester in London; Plaza Athénée in Paris.
  2. Thomas Keller in the US has top restaurants on both coasts: The French Laundry in Yountville, California; Per Se in New York City.
  3. Masahiro Yoshitake has Sushi Yoshitake in Tokyo and Sushi Shikon in Hong Kong, the latter shared with Yoshiharu Kakinuma.

Michelin Guides 1911 and 2006

The Michelin Red Guide that contains these famed stars is published by the Michelin tire company. When cars were still very new, the Michelin brothers who founded the company wanted a way to encourage more driving. If drivers used their cars more, they would need to change the tires more often. Thus, the Guides contained great restaurants all over France, in addition to guides for hotels and other attractions.

Fast forward over 100 years and, as you’ve seen, these guides have become a respected voice in fine dining. Anonymous food critics, many not known even to Michelin employees, determine the fate of these top restaurants. To earn three stars requires a herculean effort, but then the restauranteurs must maintain the rating. At least 40 three star restaurants have lost one or more stars.

Create your own map now. Don’t have your own spreadsheet? Learn how to map open data and tables you find on Wikipedia.