Story Maps How-To

What is Story Maps?

Story Maps is a Geographic Information System (GIS) that lets you create maps to show audiences how a geography has changed over time through a scrollable, multimedia, narrative format.

When Should I Use Story Maps?

Given its custom mapping function, Story Maps lets you help your user visualize, among other things, the overlap of flooding and cost of living in a specific geography. Consider using Story Maps if you are working on topics such as how green gentrification has transformed Atlanta, GA over the last 10 years; how responding to the Flint water crisis has to include responding to Redlining; or ways Tucson has increasingly centered Indigenous farming practices to protect crops from extreme heat.

Story Maps Model

See the Story Maps Model I created on the illegal Baby Gun Club dump in ATL

How do I Use Story Maps

  • Step 1: Getting Started
  • Step 2: Building Your Story With the Block Editor
  • Step 3: Publish Your Story

Step 1: Getting Started

Sign in

Navigate to and then click on the “sign in” button.

Story Maps sign in page


Create an account

If you do not have an account, you will be directed to the sign up page included below. Just click the “Create an ArcGIS public account” link and follow the prompts till you create your free and public account.

Sign in page



Once you have logged in, you will land on the Dashboard. The Dashboard shows all stories you have created, as well as “quick links,” and the “New Story” button.

Story Maps Dashboard


Create New Story

Press the “New story” button in the upper right hand corner to create a new story.

New Story Menu


Title Block

All items from the “New story” drop down menu will take you to the block editor that builds your story as shown below. See “Step 2: Building Your Story With the Block Editor” for further instruction. Remember to give your story an “Informative and unique title”¬†

Title Screen Block Editor

Step 2: Editor Features

Editor Menu

To begin, click the plus sign and then choose the function from the drop down menu as shown below. Story Maps lets you perform “Basic” functions such as adding text, buttons, and separators; add Media such as maps, images, and video; and create Immersive layouts such as the Sidecar.

Block Menu

Add Text

Text: To add text, choose “text” from the menu and a cursor will appear to the right of the plus sign. Then just type or paste in text as shown below

text box

Add Buttons

Buttons: Add buttons whenever you want to direct readers’ attention to related resources as shown below

Adding Buttons

Add Separators

Separators: Add Section Separators to break up content and guide readers’ attention as shown below

Section Seperators


Create a Map

Choose Map from the menu. Then once you are inside the map maker, use the annotation features to drop pins, draw lines, make boundaries, and add annotations. You can adjust the scope of the map by zooming in and out. Also, note that you can select multiple layers to display as show below. See the Add Maps help doc for more on how to use the mapping tool.

Map maker


Adding Video and/or Images

While seperate menu options, adding video and images follows the same path. Just choose the file type you want to display from the menu and then add it from a link or your files as shown below:

Add image window


“Swipe” Feature

Use the Swipe feature if you want readers to be able to compare two images or two maps with an interactive slider. Add images, web maps, or express maps using the button shown below.

Swipe Feature


Sidecar Feature

Try the Sidecar feature (an immersive block with stationary media panel and scrolling narrative panel) to show change over time, compare images, and add maps. To build the Sidecar, choose it from the menu and then upload or link images as shown below


Slides in Sidecar

Once inside, you can add media, text, and also arrange slides on the bottom to best suit your audience needs as shown below. See Add Sidecars for more on how to use this feature.

Sidecar dashboard

Step 3: Publish Your Story

To Publish your story, click on the arrow to the right of the Publish button in the upper right hand corner of the top menu as shown below. You will have the opportunity to make the story public or private.

Publish menu