Add an extra dimension to your data analysis with 3D maps


by Kara Hiltz


Microsoft Excel 2016

Operating System:

Microsoft Windows


Maps are a great way to present data based on geographic locations. Excel 2016 includes an integrated 3D map program so you don’t have to look for supplemental add-ins.

  • To create a 3D map and get familiar with Excel 2016’s 3D mapping program, we’ll:
  • Prepare data for three-dimensional mapping.
  • Generate a 3D map tour that displays geographical data.
  • Add layers to our 3D map to build a comprehensive picture of our data.
  • Create a scene for each 3D map layer.

Plain old charts just don’t cut it when you need to present data that relies on geographic locations. If you’re tracking voting percentages per county or water usage by country, the data will fall flat unless you can use a map to analyze and compare it.

Excel 2016 offers a new, built-in 3D mapping program that can bring your geographical data to new heights, as shown in Figure A. While the program is comprehensive, don’t be daunted. We’ll get you started by showing you how to prepare data for your 3D map, create a barebones map, and begin to work with map layers and scenes. Get ready to explore 3D maps!



Excel 2016’s 3D mapping can provide an effective and unique visual aid for geographical data.

Prepare data for 3D mapping

Before you open Excel 2016’s new integrated 3D map feature, make sure you have location data such as cities, states, Zip codes, or coordinates with longitude and latitude. Our sample data includes cities and states representing annual sales fora company’s various branches over five years, as shown in Figure B. The 3D map will show these sales by year using scenes and layers.

Tours and layers and scenes, oh my!

Excel 2016’s 3D mapping program may intimidate you at first, but learning some of the lingo can help demystify this feature. Here are a few of the words you’ll see throughout this article as we introduce you to 3D maps:

  • Tours: The overall map you make, which will probably look more like a video presentation, is called a tour. A tour includes scenes and layers.
  • Scenes: A tour may have several scenes, or snippets of data. These scenes together make the 3D tour.
  • Layers: Your map may have more than one layer of data. In each scene, you may see one layer—or several layers—of data. You can also filter layers of data.

Download: To follow along with our example, simply download and extract the file 3Dmap.xls from the URL given at the beginning of this article.



Our sample data set includes cities and states, but you can also use specific addresses or coordinates to plot points on your 3D map.

Build a 3D map

Once you have a data set that includes geographical points, you’re ready to generate a 3D map.

To get started with Excel 2016’s 3D map program:

  1. Select your data, including any headers. In our example, we’ll select A1:G13.
  2. Go to the Insert tab and, in the Tours area, click on the 3D Map icon’s dropdown list.
  3. Choose Open 3D Maps from the dropdown list.
  4. In the Launch 3D Maps window, click on the New Tour button, which resembles a plus sign, to open 3D Maps, as shown in Figure C.

Now that you have your data in the 3D map program, you’ll need to add each category of data to its own layer. In our example, we’ll add each year of sales data as its own layer in the 3D map.

Important: If you have never opened Excel 2016’s 3D Map program, Excel may prompt you to enable the Power Map add-in. To enable this add-in, go to the File tab and select Options to open the Excel Options dialog box. Select Add-Ins in the left-hand sidebar. Make sure Excel Add-Ins is selected in the Manage dropdown list, and then click the Go button. Choose the Power Map check box in the Add-Ins window and click [...]

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