CLEAR Research

Maps on the Web

Static Images

  gif, png, jpeg PDF
Pros/Cons Simple and easy to implement and low maintenance
Creates a small file that is very predictable. Easy. Small file, usable by most people, high quality, zoomable, perfect for printing
Required in order to Create

Nothing. Could choose a small image capture software.

Know-how Necessary Not much Not much
Cost Free Nothing extra
Requires to Use (besides the internet and a browser) Nothing Adobe reader (free)
CT Example Town of Groton

The most simple way to create a static image is to use the Print Screen keyboard button to take a picture of your monitor. There are two ways to do this.

1) Hit the Print Screen Button on your keyboard. This will take a picture of your entire monitor.

2) Hold down three keyboard buttons at the same time to take a picture of the active window on your computer:

Print Screen

These keys take a "picture" of your monitor at that moment and places it in the clipboard. The next step is to paste this picture into some sort of program (like Word, Powerpoint, Dreamweaver or an image program like Paint). Either use a paste command, or the CTRL V keyboard shortcut to paste. It may be helpful to paste into a program that has the ability to crop, since your "screen shot" may contain more than just the map.

Screen Shot Cropped Screen Shot
Screen Shot Cropped Screen Shot

There are also many cheap little programs that do this plus more. I like SnagIt.


GIF vs. PNG vs. JPEG

All are good formats for the web. As a rule of thumb, use GIF or PNG for an image with a finite number of discrete colors like a map, especially if it has lines or text. Use JPEG for photographs that do not have discrete boundaries. JPEGs are clearer for pictures make text and lines look blurry.


Adobe PDFs are an excellent way to easily share high quality maps.

In ArcMap, any map and layout can be exported as PDF (File menu > Export Map > choose PDF as the type). The map layout is exported as a pdf, including the page size. If the map layout is 8.5 x 11, the pdf will be that size also. Only layers turned on in ArcMap will be present in the exported PDF. PDF is a great way to share maps with non-GIS users.

And another cool thing . . . Adobe Reader Layers Button

Adobe reader has a new feature called Layers. When the PDF (that was created in ArcMap) is opened in Adobe reader, a layers tab or icon appears along the left side. This opens the layers window and allows the user to turn on and off layers. Cool!

Visit a PDF for a town. You can view the pdf in a web browser, or download it to your computer, open it in Adobe reader and view it, zoom in and out, and view the Layers tab.

If you need Adobe Reader, click here.


1. Open Microsoft Word or Powerpoint or a program that you regular use for word processing or presentation-izing.

2. View a map, any map in any software. Pick your favorite or try this Google Earth link or this Google Maps link. All that matters is that you are looking at in on your screen.

3. Click and HOLD the CTRL key, the ALT key and the Print Screen key all at the same time. This essentially copies an image of your entire monitor onto your clipboard. You can try just the Print Screen buttong too and see the difference.

4. Go back to the program you opened in Step 1. Paste. Either right-click and select paste, or select paste from the edit menu, or use the Ctrl V shortcut.

5. The image of your screen should appear in your document. Click on the image to select it and use the Crop tool Crop Toolto cut it to the desired size. That's it!