Excel: 3D Maps and Geographic Data

I have been including this as a bonus exercise in our Pivot Table sessions, but it is too good not to share as a Byte. I learned about this magical feature (wizardry) from a session taught by Mr. Excel last fall. This is the beginning of the cool AI features to come with Microsoft Office… it is an amazing tool to help you better illustrate location oriented data, or better yet, location data on a timeline. Let’s check it out.


This feature is available to those of you using the Windows version of Microsoft Office 2016 or later.  WSU faculty and staff, if you have an older version of Office and would like to upgrade, please contact the Help Desk at 4357.  If you are a Mac user and want to try out this feature, please come to one of our open labs listed in myTraining! We would love to have you, and you will be able to export the data we create for use in presentations.

Exercise File

Follow along with the exercise file: GeographicInfo

This is a list of fictional student registrations: student hometowns, class, and the date they registered.

Data Layout

Notice how this list is laid out vertically: each column is a new piece of information and each new row is a separate entry. This is exactly how data should be laid out in Excel: for pivot tables, for graphing, and also for geographic data.

Oh, and remember… friends don’t let friends merge cells. It can really mess with features that create visual elements with data… But I digress.

 Creating the Map

Just like with your pivot table data, you do not need to preselect all this information.

  1. Place your cursor anywhere inside the data. I selected cell B5 randomly.
  2. Go to the Insert tab, and in a group called Tours select 3D Map.3D Map button in ribbon

Note: if this is your first time using this feature, you may be asked if you want to enable this feature. You do. This is going to give Excel permission to access these maps online.

Another Note: it may take a few moments for the feature to run… so don’t be alarmed if you see the famous spinning wheel.

  1. A new screen will load with a map view. You can move the globe around with your mouse, or zoom in with the + and – buttons at the lower right.

Map View

Adjusting the Map

We want to see more information than just data points, though. Notice that the right side of the screen has an almost pivot table feel: with different groups of customizable information. Let’s insert a couple fields:

  1. Press the + next to Category and select Class
  2. Press the + next to Time and select Date

Category and date fields

Now rotate your globe, and notice that there is dimension to the entry points…

Dimension viewable by class

but that is not all you have just done…

  1. Notice there is a play button at the bottom of your screen. Press this button to see a moving timeline of registrations.

Play button

Isn’t this awesome??

Export Options

Take a look at the ribbon in the Map view. Notice the second option allows you to Create Video or Capture Screen. Maybe you would like to incorporate this live timeline into a PowerPoint, or maybe you just need a quick picture of the map. These options will allow you to do just that.

Create Video and Capture Screen buttons

Saving Your Maps

This file is going to save with your excel file once you exit the map view. To access it again after closing out of map view, revisit the Insert tab, and select 3D Maps. Instead of starting over, this also gives you the option to revisit the “tour” you created. You might choose to create several!

Launch Tour screen


I would love to hear how you end up using 3D maps in your work space! Let me know. 😊

Congratulations, Power Users!

Congratulations to our newest Power Users! For the full gallery, and more information about the WSU Microsoft Office Power User Program, please visit: wichita.edu/poweruser

  • Jose Intriago Suarez