No budget for custom graphics — yet you need a map for your website
or presentation, to help show your membership reach or the areas in
which your organization does its work? No problem. The internet offers
a variety of free map graphics, many of which you can customize as
To get you started, here are 6 useful sources for different types of maps that are available online, free of charge:
1. Vectorportal’s free maps
are mostly in EPS format, for editing with a vector-based graphics
program such as Adobe ILlustrator or CorelDraw. These maps were created
and submitted by a number of different artists, so the quality does
vary as well as the style — but with more than 150 maps to choose from
here, you’re likely to find something you can use.
All of these files are covered by the Creative Commons Attribution License, which means you can use them for all kind of projects as long as you give credit back to Vectorportal.com.
2. Free blank US state outline maps
are available in both Illustrator & editable PDF vector formats. If
you want a map of the whole United States, you’ll have to put the
states together yourself like a jigsaw puzzle — but these are clean,
simple, digital images that should be useful to many state-based
3. Free Sample Maps from MapsForDesign.com are royalty-free maps
in editable EPS or PPT formats. The maps are high quality, but only a
limited number are made available as free samples: Israel/Middle East,
Taiwan, portions of the USA and a few individual states, one Canadian
province, a Mercator projection of South America, etc., so you may or may not find the map you need. But if you’re
looking for a very good customizable map of Africa, do check out this
site first -- it's the best free version I've found yet.
As a bonus, Map for Design’s related “how to” blog offers some excellent video tutorials for those new to editing PPT graphics.
4. Free editable Powerpoint vector maps
from PresentationHelper.co.uk are part of a real treasure trove of free
PowerPoint templates to suit every occasion. The maps and templates are
“free for commercial and private use, but not for re-sale or
re-distribution.” Currently available are a fairly rudimentary world
map, and more detailed maps of North America (including Central
America) and the UK and Europe.
5. GeoBats TTF font by Iconian Fonts
is a set of simple dingbats that you can install as a font where each
character is the shape of a different continent or country. When all you need in the way of maps is a simple shape, this could be a
convenient lightweight option. Copyright is retained by the font's creator, Dan Zadorozny, but the font is
free for noncommercial use and distributed as charityware for commercial purposes:
… If you’d like to use a font of mine for commercial purposes, I
ask that you make a donation to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.
After making your donation you have the nonexclusive right to use
the font for unlimited commercial purposes and in any medium (print,
online, commercial, merchandise, logos, etc.) EXCEPT redistribution of
the digital font itself in any form.
Tip: The font repository website Dafont.com has some good clear instructions for how to install a font
if you need a bit of guidance.
6. To take a slighthly different approach, you might want to embed a detailed interactive map from Google Maps on your web page.
Simply search for the map location you are interested in, zooming in right down to street level if you like, and click 'Link' in the upper right corner to get the copy-and-paste HTML code.
Some limited customization of the maps is possible, and you can also choose to grab a link to send by text or email.
What other online resources for free map graphics can you suggest?