Help guide

Click on the relevant topic below for help with how to use sketchmap.

How to pan and zoom around the map

There are many ways you can pan and zoom around the maps.

Map view controls

The map control panel is in the top left corner of the map screen.

This panel allows you to zoom and pan around the map. It will have a slightly transparent appearance until you place the cursor over it.

Zooming in / out

To zoom in or out:

  • Click and drag the blue arrow up or down the slider
  • Labels will appear indicating what you will see at different levels
  • Alternatively:

  • Click on the '+' or '-' buttons to zoom in or out by set increments
  • The scroll wheel on a mouse can also be used to zoom in or out.

    Panning around the map

    The panning controls are above the zoom slider.

  • Click on the 'hand' symbol in the centre of the panning controls
  • On the map itself, click and hold, drag to the desired position and release
  • Alternatively:

  • Click on the appropriate arrow to move the map view
  • Searching for an address or location

    The 'Find a map' panel is to the left of the map screen:

    To search for a location:

  • Click on the white window and enter one or more of the following:
    - building name
    - number
    - road
    - town
    - county
    - postcode
  • Click on the green FIND button or the enter key on your keyboard
  • A list of search results will be displayed to the right of the 'Find a map' panel
  • Click on the most appropriate search result from the list
  • A map will appear with an orange pin at the specified location

  • To remove the orange pin from the map:

  • Click on the orange pin symbol beside the search address
  • To reinstate the orange pin

  • Click on the faded orange pin symbol beside the search address
  • NB: You can find your desired location without performing an address search by simply using the pan and zoom tools.

    Switching map backgrounds

    There are a number of map backgrounds you can select to view.



    To the right of the panning controls you will find a box showing the name of the map background you are currently viewing.

    To change the map background:

  • Click on the name of the current map
  • A drop-down menu will appear
  • Click on the map you wish to view
  • Google map - With no building outlines or minor features, the standard Google map has a crisp appearence.

    To learn how to change the colours on the Google map, please read the 'How to use 'Customise Map'' section within this user guide.

    Urban detail - This is the most detailed map available on sketchmap, and is based on 'OpenStreetMap'. It includes building outlines and natural features not shown on other maps. Read more about OpenStreetMap.

    Satellite photo - Seamless satellite or aerial photography with road names and other labels displayed.

    Outdoor Map - These maps are designed for outdoor use, and are sourced from Ordnance Survey. The maps will change appearence as you zoom in or out.

    The Ordnance Survey maps on this site may only be viewed over Great Britain. Read more about Ordnance Survey OpenData.

    How to draw and insert text and symbols on a map

    Just above the map screen is a set of tools for drawing, inserting text, placing symbols and deleting annotations:

    Select a drawing tool:


    To select a drawing tool:

  • Click on the green down arrow (v) to the right of 'Line/shape'
  • A drop-down menu will appear
  • Click on the green symbol for the tool you wish to use
  • The appearance of your cursor will change
  • Line/shape - draw straight lines and shapes with straight edges

  • Place the cursor at your starting position and click
  • Move the cursor and then click again when you want to change direction
  • Double click to finish

  • Text box - draw a box into which you can type text

  • Place the cursor at your starting position
  • Click and hold, drag the cursor diagonally and then release
  • A panel will appear prompting you to 'Type text here...'
  • Options beneath this panel allow you to change the appearence of your text

  • Arrow - draw an arrow

  • Place the cursor where you want your arrow to begin
  • Click and hold, drag the cursor to your target and then release

  • Square - draw a square or rectangle

  • Place the cursor at your starting position
  • Click and hold, drag the cursor diagonally and then release

  • Circle - draw a circle

  • Place the cursor at your starting position - this will be the centre of your circle
  • Click and hold, drag the cursor away from the starting position and then release

  • Sketch - sketch a line

  • Hold the mouse down to sketch
  • Release mouse button to finish sketch
  • Change colours and appearence

    Double click on any drawing and a panel will open. Options in this panel allow you to change the appearence of your drawing:

    Colour - changes the colour within a shape

  • Click on the box to the right of 'colour'
  • A palette will appear
  • Click on your selected colour

  • Pattern - changes the pattern within a shape

  • Click on the green down arrow (v) to the right of 'Pattern'
  • A drop-down menu will appear
  • Click on your selected pattern

  • Transparency - changes the transparency of a shape

  • Click on the green down arrows to the right of the percent box to increase or reduce transparency
  • Alternatively, type a percentage value into the box

  • Style - changes the style of a line or the outline of a shape

  • Click on the green down arrow (v) to the right of 'Style'
  • A drop-down menu will appear
  • Click on your selected style
  • Thickness - changes the thickness of a line or outline of a shape

  • Click on the green arrows to the right of the 'px' box to increase or reduce thickness
  • Alternatively, type a value between 1-10 into the box
  • Choosing a colour

  • Click on any colour within the palette to apply that colour to your annotation
  • Adjust the saturation slider to the right of the colour palette by clicking and dragging it, or clicking the '+' and '-' icons. This will adjust the saturation of the colours in the palette, to either a more pale or a brighter shade
  • Any colour you choose will be added to the 'Recent colours' rack, making it easy to re-select for other drawings
  • Alternatively, select 'No colour' for your selected feature to have no fill/outline colour
  • Measurements - Displays the area/perimeter/radius of a shape or the length of a line.

    To change the units of a measurement:

  • Click on the green down arrow (v) to the right of the 'Hectares/Km' box
  • A drop-down menu will appear
  • Click on your selected unit of measurement

  • To automatically add these measurements to your map as a text label:

  • Click on the green 'Aa' symbol to the right of the displayed measurement
  • Edit the shape or position of a drawing

    Select and move a drawing

  • Click on a drawing to 'select' it
  • Circular symbols will appear at each corner or change of direction along the outline
  • A box displaying the measurements of that drawing will appear in the top-right of the map
  • The mouse cursor will change to a multi-directional arrow. Click and drag to move your drawing
  • Resize a rectangle/square/circle

  • Click on a rectangle/square/circle to 'select' it
  • A dotted outline box will appear around the drawing
  • The small white squares at each corner of the box are 'handles'
  • Click on one of the 'handles' and hold, drag to the desired size then release
  • Resize a line/shape

  • Click on a line/shape to 'select' it
  • Circular symbols will appear at each change of direction along the line/shape outline. These are called 'nodes'
  • Click on one of the 'nodes' and hold, drag to the desired position, then release
  • Insert a symbol

    Sketchmap allows you to insert useful symbols indicating the location of landmarks and other points of interest.
    The 'Insert symbol' function can be found on the toolbar just above the map screen:

    How to insert a symbol

  • Click on the green down arrow (v) to the right of 'Insert symbol'
  • A drop-down menu will appear
  • Click on the symbol you wish to use
  • Your cursor will become that symbol
  • Click on your map to place the symbol at your desired location
  • How to move a symbol

  • Click on the symbol to be moved
  • Click and hold, drag to new position then release
  • Deleting drawings, text and symbols you've placed on your map

    The 'Delete' function can be found on the toolbar just above the map screen:

    How to delete a drawing, symbol or text

  • Click on the 'Delete' function
  • Your cursor will change to an arrow together with a small 'x'
  • Click on the line, shape, text or symbol to be deleted

  • Alternatively:

  • Click on the line, shape, text or symbol to be deleted, selecting it
  • Press the delete key on your keyboard
  • Sharing a map by url link, Facebook and Twitter

    Maps can be shared in three different ways from the share buttons on the top right of the map screen. Make sure you complete any changes to your map before you create a link.

    Sharing options:

  • To share a url link: Click on the 'link' icon and then press copy. This link can now be pasted in an email, document or whatever you fancy.
  • Share a map link on Facebook: Click on the Facebook icon, and login from the pop-up if necessary. Remember to add a title for your map before you hit share.
  • Share a map link on Twitter: Click on the Twitter icon, and login from the pop-up if necessary. Remember to add a title for your map before you tweet it.
  • Editing a map someone has shared with you

    To make a map editable that someone has shared with you, click on the lock icon at the toolbar just above the map screen:

    The map editing lock

  • Unlock maps that have been sahred with you to create or ammend your own version
  • The lock will appear red if a map is locked for editing, and green if it can be edited and added to.
  • No need to re-lock once your map is finished, simply share it again.
  • How to customise map colours

    You are able to customise the colours of the Google Map to your preference, by choosing a different colour for each map feature. You are also able to turn feature labels on and off, and simplify the appearence of roads by removing their outline.


    To change the colour of Google map features

  • To the left of the map screen you will find a list of 'map layer' headings
  • Click on the '+' box to the left of 'Customise Map'
  • Check the tickbox next to 'Customise map'
  • Click on the coloured box to the left of the element (Major Roads, Minor Roads, etc)
  • A panel containing a colour palette will appear
  • Click on the required colour. Your map will now change appearence


  • Further options to change the appearence

    As well as giving colour options, the panel also contains tick boxes which can be used to switch the following features on and off:

  • Display labels on/off
  • No colour
  • Display road outline on/off
  • Once you have ticked these options on or off, click the 'OK' button to apply changes to the map screen.

    If you wish to start again, click the green 'Reset appearance' button. This will return your map to standard Google colours.

    NB: Some elements may not appear on your map. There may, for example, be no 'Major roads' in the area you are viewing.

    How to view and use the UK Map layers (Admin boundaries, contours etc)

    To the left of the map screen you will find a list of 'map layer' headings. Click on the green '?' to the right of a heading for further information about that particular layer.

    Expand layer headings

    To see what is under a particular heading:

  • Click on the '+' box to the left of your chosen heading
  • Sub-headings will appear
  • View a map layer

  • Click on the box beside a sub-heading
  • Click on the box again to switch the layer off
  • NB: Some layers can only be viewed at particular scales. If the box beside a heading or sub-heading is grey, you will be unable to click on it. Zoom in on the map until the box is no longer grey. You will now be able to click on it.

    For more detailed information about the map layers available, please see data sources.


    View information about a map layer or feature

  • With map layer/s displayed, click on a feature or area
  • An information box will appear listing which layers apply to that feature or area
  • Click on the box beside one of the layers on the list
  • Another information box will appear giving specific information about the feature or area
  • NB: The information in this box will vary. Some will contain hyperlinks to external websites which offer more detailed information.

  • Click on the 'X' in the top right corner to close the information box
  • Saving a map or printing a map on your computer

    Before a map you created can be printed it must first be downloaded to your computer as a PDF document.

    To view a preview your map:

  • Click on the green 'Printer' button just above the map screen on the right
  • The map screen will show a preview of your map. From here you can change the page orientation, or insert additional text or a title

  • Change page orientation

  • Click on either the 'portrait' or 'landscape' symbols to the right of 'Orientation'

  • Insert map title

  • Click on 'Click here to insert map title' just above the map
  • Insert text - to a maximum of 28 characters

  • Insert extra text

  • Click on 'Click here to insert extra text' just beneath the map
  • Insert text into the box. Text which is too large to appear on a single page will automatically spill over onto a second page
  • NB: You cannot pan, zoom, add or edit drawings at this stage. If you want to make changes to your map, click on 'Back to map view' in the top left, or the 'X' in the top right hand corner of your map preview.

    Download the map to your computer:

    When you are happy with the appearance of your map, click on the 'Download map' icon to save it to your computer. You can rename your map before saving it.

    NB: Maps created on sketchmap are not saved and cannot be accessed at a later date via the website, unless you also create a 'map share' link as well. Upon closing sketchmap, any maps you have created will be lost. It is therefore important to save a copy to your own computer.

    Print your map from your computer:

    Once your map has been downloaded as a PDF to your computer, it can be printed when opened in Adobe Reader.

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