User Guide

Positioning Data Geographically

To engage in geographical positioning with software such as Clip, you begin by ensuring your data includes geographic coordinates. These coordinates should be present in your dataset as separate fields or columns, usually labeled with terms like ‘lat’ for latitude and ‘long’ for longitude. Latitude values indicate how far north or south a point is from the equator, while longitude values specify how far east or west that point is from the Prime Meridian.

The process of positioning in Clip involves writing command-line instructions that dictate how the software should interpret and project these coordinates onto a two-dimensional map. There are different coordinate systems and geographic projections to choose from, each with its strengths and purposes, and Clip can handle a variety of these to ensure proper representation of geospatial data.

Since the Earth is a sphere, representing its surface on a flat plane, such as a map, always involves some degree of compromise. This could result in shapes and areas being distorted, especially as you move away from the equator. Selecting a suitable projection is a delicate balance between preserving area, shape, direction, and distance, depending on the aim of your visualization.

When positioning data geographically, one often deals with various scales. Clip’s functionality allows you to zoom and scale your map appropriately. Users should make informed decisions on the level of detail and scale required for their specific visualization goals.

The precision of your coordinated data will directly affect the credibility and usefulness of the resulting map. It is advisable to obtain your geographic data from reliable sources and, if necessary, cross-reference for accuracy to ensure that your visualization faithfully represents the information at hand.


Customizing Your Map

Colors can make a significant difference in the way viewers perceive and understand your data. Users can assign different colors to various regions, based on quantitative data or to categorize disparate zones. The choice of color should be functional, making sure to differentiate effectively without causing confusion or misinterpretation.

Plotting Geographic Data ClipCustomization involves adding textual elements to the map. Annotations come in handy when you need to provide additional context to your geographic plots. This could be the name of a city or region, a specific data point value, or any relevant descriptions that help convey the intended message. Proper placement and formatting of these textual elements will ensure the map remains clear and easy to read.

Positioning symbols or markers accurately across the map is important, as it directly reflects the geographic occurrence or intensity of the data in question. Clip provides users with commands to plot these markers based on the coordinates within the data. You can customize the size, shape, and color of these markers to represent different data attributes like magnitude, frequency, or category.

Ground features such as roads, topology, and water bodies are features that might be selectively displayed on a map based on relevance to the data story. In environmental analysis, highlighting rivers and lakes could be paramount, whereas, for a logistical study, major highways and railroads might be more pertinent.

Incorporating legends and scales helps users understand the color codes and the size representations of the data points and regions on the map. A well-placed legend serves to interpret the various graphical elements, and a scale marker helps to comprehend distances and area proportions.

Clip allows to overlay your dataset on geographical outlines such as countries, states, or cities. This overlay process might involve additional steps, including sourcing a suitable map outline in a compatible format that Clip can understand and then integrating your data on top of these outlines.


Transforming Data into Visual Stories

The transformation begins with a clear identification of the core message or the central theme that needs to be communicated. This is the most significant pattern, trend, or finding within the data that warrants attention. Once the key message is identified, the data relevant to this message should be evaluated and organized systematically. Clip allows users to manipulate data for visualization—choosing the most lucid format and structure for telling the story.

It is important to remove any extraneous information that does not support the central narrative. This process of distillation prevents the visual story from becoming cluttered and overwhelming, thus ensuring that the intended message remains in the spotlight.

When crafting a visual story with geographic data, one must consider elements such as maps, charts, and infographics, which can all be combined into a cohesive narrative. These elements should complement one another—maps provide a geographical context, while charts and graphs can illustrate the nuances and specifics of the data within that context.

Utilizing spatial relationships and patterns is key to transforming geographic data into visual stories. A thematic map can show how certain variables change over space, such as the distribution of a population demographic across a region. Temporal changes are effectively represented by introducing timelines or animated maps that evolve to show progress or shifts over time.

The visual representation of data should embody the principles of good design—balance, contrast, alignment, and repetition—while also adhering to best practices like maintaining a consistent scale, intuitive symbology, and clear typeface choices. These design elements guide the audience’s eye through the data with ease and clarity.

Interactivity can be an influential tool in visual storytelling, particularly for complex datasets. It allows users to explore different layers of data at their own pace, examining specific aspects that interest them. Functions such as hovering to reveal additional data points, or clicking to drill down into more detailed information, can make the visual story more engaging and personalized for the audience.


One of the benefits of command-line tools like Clip is their suitability for collaboration and version control. As all the steps to create the visual are scripted, you can easily share and replicate illustrations by sharing the command sequence. This functionality is perfect for teams working on joint projects or when incorporating feedback and making iterative improvements to your charts and geographic data displays.

The core functionality of Clip might not cover all your needs for geographic data visualization. There could be extensions or plug-ins that broaden its capabilities, allowing for more complex map types or integrating additional data sources. 


Other posts

  • Effective Use of Legends and Annotations in Clip Charts
  • Integrating Clip with Jupyter Notebooks
  • Building Pie Charts with Clip
  • Creating a Workflow with Clip
  • Choosing the Right Fonts for Your Charts in Clip 
  • Custom Themes in Clip
  • Creating Bar Charts with Clip
  • Advanced Line Graphs in Clip
  • Localization and Internationalization with Clip