Preparing the Data to Be Mapped

Data come in various formats and will typically need to be processed, cleaned, and re-formatted for mapping. This page provides an overview of the typical steps in the data preparation process.

Click on the links below for additional technical resources.

  • Data assessment: Analyze the data quality and usability, including the margins of error and coefficients of variation, to determine if the data are appropriate to map.
  • Data formatting: Re-format the data from its raw form (e.g., CSV file, Excel file, PDF, Word file) into a consistent spreadsheet format.
  • Data cleaning: Review the data for errors and inconsistencies, eliminate outliers and inaccuracies as needed, and delete any extraneous data that are not relevant for mapping.
  • Data processing: Process the raw data to create the data values that you will map. This may include combining multiple datasets into a single dataset or aggregating the data to a different geography.
  • Geocoding: Organize the data in a format that is compatible with the GIS software you plan to use so that the software can accurately locate and map the information.