21.2.2. The Map Item

The map item is the main frame that displays the map you’ve designed in the map canvas. Use the addMap Add Map tool following items creation instructions to add a new map item that you can later manipulate the same way as exposed in Interacting with layout items.

By default, a new map item shows the current status of the map canvas with its extent and visible layers. You can customize it thanks to the Item Properties panel. Other than the items common properties, this feature has the following functionalities:


Рис. 21.14 Map Item Properties Panel The Toolbar

The Map Item Properties panel embeds a toolbar with the following functionalities:

  • refresh Update map preview

  • setToCanvasExtent Set map canvas to match main canvas extent

  • viewExtentInCanvas View current map extent in main canvas

  • setToCanvasScale Set map scale to match main canvas scale

  • viewScaleInCanvas Set main canvas to match current map scale

  • showBookmarks Bookmarks: set the map item extent to match an existing spatial bookmark

  • moveItemContent Interactively edit map extent: pan and zoom interactively within the map item

  • labelingSingle Labeling settings: control feature label behaviour (placement, visibility…) in the layout map item extent:

    • set a Margin from map edges, a data definable distance from the map item’s limits inside which no label should be displayed

    • unchecked Allow truncated labels on edges of map: controls whether labels which fall partially outside of the map item allowed extent should be rendered. If checked, these labels will be shown (when there’s no way to place them fully within the visible area). If unchecked then partially visible labels will be skipped.

    • Label blocking items: allows other layout items (such as scalebars, north arrows, inset maps, etc) to be marked as a blockers for the map labels in the active map item. This prevents any map labels from being placed under those items - causing the labeling engine to either try alternative placement for these labels or discard them altogether.

      If a Margin from map edges is set, the map labels are not placed closer than the specified distance from the checked layout items.

    • Show unplaced labels: can be used to determine whether labels are missing from the layout map (e.g. due to conflicts with other map labels or due to insufficient space to place the label) by highlighting them in a predefined color.

  • clip Clipping settings: allows to clip the map item to the atlas feature and to shape and polygon items:

    • checkbox Clip to atlas feature: you can determine that the layout map item will be clipped automatically to the current atlas feature.

      There are different clipping modes available:

      • Clip During Render Only: applies a painter based clip, so that portions of vector features which sit outside the atlas feature become invisible

      • Clip Feature Before Render: applies the clip before rendering features, so borders of features which fall partially outside the atlas feature will still be visible on the boundary of the atlas feature

      • Render Intersecting Features Unchanged: renders all features which intersect the current atlas feature, but without clipping their their geometry.

      You can checkbox Force labels inside atlas feature. If you don’t want to radioButtonOff Clip all layers to the atlas feature you can use the radioButtonOn Clip selected layers option.

    • checkbox Clip to item: it is possible to change the shape of the map item by using a shape or polygon item from the print layout. When you enable this option the map will be automatically clipped to the selected shape in the combobox. Again, the above mentioned clipping modes are available and labels can be forced to display only inside the clipping shape.


      Рис. 21.15 Clipping a layout map item to shapes Main properties

In the Main properties group (see Рис. 21.14) of the map Item Properties panel, available options are:

  • The Update Preview button to refresh the map item rendering if the view in map canvas has been modified. Note that most of the time, the map item refresh is automatically triggered by the changes;

  • The Scale to manually set the map item scale;

  • The Map rotation allows you to rotate the map item content clockwise in degrees. The rotation of the map canvas can be imitated here;

  • The CRS allows you to display the map item content in any CRS. It defaults to Use project CRS;

  • checkbox Draw map canvas items lets you show in the print layout annotations that are placed on the main map canvas. Layers

By default, map item appearance is synced with the map canvas rendering meaning that toggling visibility of the layers or modifying their style in the Layers Panel is automatically applied to the map item. Because, like any other item, you may want to add multiple map items to a print layout, there’s a need to break this synchronization in order to allow showing different areas, layer combinations, at different scales… The Layers properties group (see Рис. 21.16) helps you do that.


Рис. 21.16 Map Layers group

If you want to keep the map item consistent with an existing map theme, check checkbox Follow map theme and select the desired theme in the drop-down list. Any changes applied to the theme in QGIS“ main window (using the replace theme function) will automatically affect the map item. If a map theme is selected, the Lock styles for layers option is disabled because Follow map theme also updates the style (symbology, labels, diagrams) of the layers.

To lock the layers shown in a map item to the current map canvas visibility, check checkbox Lock layers. When this option is enabled, any changes on the layers“ visibility in QGIS“ main window will not affect the layout’s map item. Nevertheless, style and labels of locked layers are still refreshed according to QGIS“ main window. You can prevent this by using Lock styles for layers.

Instead of using the current map canvas, you can also lock the layers of the map item to those of an existing map theme: select a map theme from the showPresets Set layer list from a map theme drop-down button, and the checkbox Lock layers is activated. The set of visible layers in the map theme is from now on used for the map item until you select another map theme or uncheck the checkbox Lock layers option. You then may need to refresh the view using the refresh Refresh view button of the Navigation toolbar or the Update Preview button seen above.

Note that, unlike the Follow map theme option, if the Lock layers option is enabled and set to a map theme, the layers in the map item will not be refreshed even if the map theme is updated (using the replace theme function) in QGIS“ main window.

Locked layers in the map item can also be data-defined, using the dataDefine icon beside the option. When used, this overrides the selection set in the drop-down list. You need to pass a list of layers separated by | character. The following example locks the map item to use only layers layer 1 and layer 2:

concat ('layer 1', '|', 'layer 2') Extents

The Extents group of the map item properties panel provides the following functionalities (see Рис. 21.17):


Рис. 21.17 Map Extents group

The Extents area displays X and Y coordinates of the area shown in the map item. Each of these values can be manually replaced, modifying the map canvas area displayed and/or map item size. The extent can also be modified using tools at the top of the map item panel such as:

  • setToCanvasExtent Set map canvas to match main canvas extent

  • setToCanvasScale Set map scale to match main canvas scale

You can also alter a map item extent using the moveItemContent Move item content tool: click-and-drag within the map item to modify its current view, keeping the same scale. With the moveItemContent tool enabled, use the mouse wheel to zoom in or out, modifying the scale of the shown map. Combine the movement with Ctrl key pressed to have a smaller zoom. Temporal range

The Temporal range group of the map item properties panel provides the options to control layers rendering in the map item based on a temporal range. Only layers whose temporal properties overlap with the time range set by the Start and End dates are displayed in the map item.

The associated data-defined widgets help make the time range dynamic, and allow outputting temporal atlases, i.e. automated maps with fixed spatial extent and whose contents vary based on time. For example, using as coverage layer a csv file with a start and end pair of fields and a number of rows representing date ranges, enable both the temporal range and control by atlas in the map item properties and hit atlas export. Controlled by atlas

The checkbox Controlled by atlas group properties is available only if an atlas is active in the print layout. Check this option if you want the map item being ruled by the atlas; when iterating over the coverage layer, the map item extent is panned/zoomed to the atlas feature following:

  • radioButtonOn Margin around features: zooms to the feature at the best scale, keeping around each a margin representing a percentage of the map item width or height. The margin can be the same for all features or set variable, e.g., depending on map scale;

  • radioButtonOff Predefined scale (best fit): zooms to the feature at the project predefined scale where the atlas feature best fits;

  • radioButtonOff Fixed scale: atlas features are panned from one to another, keeping the same scale of the map item. Ideal when working with features of same size (e.g., a grid) or willing to highlight size differences among atlas features. Grids

With grids, you can add, over your map, information relative to its extent or coordinates, either in the map item projection or a different one. The Grids group provides the possibility to add several grids to a map item.

  • With the symbologyAdd and symbologyRemove buttons you can add or remove a selected grid;

  • With the arrowUp and arrowDown buttons you can move up and down a grid in the list, hence move it on top or bottom of another one, over the map item.

Double-click the added grid to rename it.


Рис. 21.18 Map Grids Dialog

To modify a grid, select it and press the Modify Grid… button to open the Map Grid Properties panel and access its configuration options.

Grid Appearance

In the Map Grid Properties panel, check checkbox Grid enabled to show the grid on the map item.

As grid type, you can specify to use a:

  • Solid: shows a line across the grid frame. The Line style can be customized using color and symbol selector widget;

  • Cross: displays segment at the grid lines intersection for which you can set the Line style and the Cross width;

  • Markers: only displays customizable markers symbol at grid lines intersection;

  • or Frame and annotations only.

Other than the grid type, you can define:

  • the CRS of the grid. If not changed, it will follow the Map CRS. The Change button lets you set it to a different CRS. Once set, it can be changed back to default by selecting any group heading (e.g Geographic Coordinate System) under Predefined Coordinate Reference Systems in the CRS selection dialog.

  • the Interval type to use for the grid references. Available options are Map Unit, Fit Segment Width, Millimeter or Centimeter:

    • choosing Fit Segment Width will dynamically select the grid interval based on the map extent to a «pretty» interval. When selected, the Minimum and Maximum intervals can be set.

    • the other options allow you to set the distance between two consecutive grid references in the X and Y directions.

  • the Offset from the map item edges, in the X and/or the Y direction

  • and the Blend mode of the grid (see Blending Modes) when compatible.


Рис. 21.19 Grid Appearance Dialog

Grid Frame

There are different options to style the frame that holds the map. The following options are available: No Frame, Zebra, Zebra (nautical), Interior ticks, Exterior ticks, Interior and Exterior ticks, Line border and Line border (nautical).

When compatible, it’s possible to set the Frame size, a Frame margin, the Frame line thickness with associated color and the Frame fill colors.

Using Latitude/Y only and Longitude/X only values in the divisions section you can prevent a mix of latitude/Y and longitude/X coordinates showing on each side when working with rotated maps or reprojected grids. Also you can choose to set visible or not each side of the grid frame.


Рис. 21.20 Grid Frame Dialog


The checkbox Draw coordinates checkbox allows you to add coordinates to the map frame. You can choose the annotation numeric format, the options range from decimal to degrees, minute and seconds, with or without suffix, aligned or not and a custom format using the expression dialog.

You can choose which annotation to show. The options are: show all, latitude only, longitude only, or disable(none). This is useful when the map is rotated. The annotation can be drawn inside or outside the map frame. The annotation direction can be defined as horizontal, vertical ascending or vertical descending.

Finally, you can define the annotation font, font color, distance from the map frame and the precision of the drawn coordinates.


Рис. 21.21 Grid Draw Coordinates dialog Overviews

Sometimes you may have more than one map in the print layout and would like to locate the study area of one map item on another one. This could be for example to help map readers identify the area in relation with its larger geographic context shown in the second map.

The Overviews group of the map panel helps you create the link between two different maps extent and provides the following functionalities:


Рис. 21.22 Map Overviews group

To create an overview, select the map item on which you want to show the other map item’s extent and expand the Overviews option in the Item Properties panel. Then press the symbologyAdd button to add an overview.

Initially this overview is named „Overview 1“ (see Рис. 21.22). You can:

  • Rename it with a double-click

  • With the symbologyAdd and symbologyRemove buttons, add or remove overviews

  • With the arrowUp and arrowDown buttons, move an overview up and down in the list, placing it above or below other overviews in the map item (when they are at the same stack position).

Then select the overview item in the list and check the checkbox Draw «<name_overview>» overview to enable the drawing of the overview on the selected map frame. You can customize it with:

  • The Map frame selects the map item whose extents will be shown on the present map item.

  • The Frame Style uses the symbol properties to render the overview frame.

  • The Blending mode allows you to set different transparency blend modes.

  • The checkbox Invert overview creates a mask around the extents when activated: the referenced map extents are shown clearly, whereas the rest of the map item is blended with the frame fill color (if a fill color is used).

  • The checkbox Center on overview pans the map item content so that the overview frame is displayed at the center of the map. You can only use one overview item to center, when you have several overviews.

  • The Position controls exactly where in the map item’s layer stack the overview will be placed, e.g. allowing an overview extent to be drawn below some feature layers such as roads whilst drawing it above other background layers. Available options are:

    • Below map

    • Below map layer and Above map layer: place the overview frame below and above the geometries of a layer, respectively. The layer is selected in the Stacking layer option.

    • Below map labels: given that labels are always rendered above all the feature geometries in a map item, places the overview frame above all the geometries and below any label.

    • Above map labels: places the overview frame above all the geometries and labels in the map item.