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You will learn: how to use smart mapping styles to work with multiple layers, perform simple calculations, and display data in meaningful ways.

The ArcGIS Online Map Viewer allows you to explore datasets with a variety of smart mapping styles. The nature of your layer data determines the styling suggestions that you see by default in the viewer. You can also change the attribute you're showing on the map, and compare multiple attributes. The suggested styles, patterns, shapes, and color ramps are easily customized. Using smart mapping styles allows you to quickly create sophisticated-looking visualizations without writing any code, and your web map styles remain consistent regardless of the type of application that consumes it. In this tutorial, you'll use smart mapping to Style feature layers of population density by city in Los Angeles County.

This is just one example of smart mapping in action! Learn more here.


  1. Go to ArcGIS Online and sign in.

  2. In the top nav, click Map to launch the Map Viewer.

  3. In the top bar, click + Add > Add Layer from Web. Use the URL below and the dialog to add the following layer:

    • City_Boundaries:
  4. In the top bar, click Basemap > Dark Gray Canvas to set the basemap.

  5. Click City Boundaries > Change Styles and select the following:

    • 1. Choose an attribute to show: POPULATION
      • Click Add Attribute and select OF_AREA_SM (area in square meters).
    • 2. Select a drawing style:
      • Click Compare A to B > Options to change the style.

      The Compare A to B style compares the first attribute to the second, in a simple ratio. In this tutorial, the layer style calculates the number of people per square mile, or population density. The data is representated by proportional shading within the city polygons. This visualization within predefined areas is called a chloropleth map.

      • Click Symbols under the vertical bar with three colors.
      • Select your favorite smart mapping color ramp and transparency and click OK.
      • Try adjusting the color ramp breaks on the smart mapping bar chart to see how it affects the colors on the map.
    • Click OK > Done when you've finished.
  6. Save your map.

Congratulations, you're done!

Your styled web map should look something like this.


Alternate Styles

Try reformatting your layer with the Color and Size drawing style to experiment with a different method of rendering population. Which style do you think is more effective?

Create a heat map

Heat maps show areas of high activity with colors that appear to glow hotter. Heat map styling can only be used with datasets of points. Add the Trailheads layer to your web map. In the Map Viewer, click Trailheads > Change Styles > Select a drawing style > Heat Map > Options.

Styling different types of data

If you want to learn more about smart mapping styles or get more ideas for displaying different types of data (numbers, time, locations, categories, etc.), visit the ArcGIS Online documentation.