Using Print Composer in QGIS

This exercise will show you how to turn your maps into cartographic outputs. In particular you will be able to:

  • Move between the Print Composer and Data Views
  • Manipulate the maps using Print Composer
  • Add map elements such as a title, north arrow, scale bar, legend and text
  • Export your map and import it into Word.

Move between the Print Composer and Data Views

There are two different ‘views’ in QGIS. In Data View you make maps and do your analysis. When you have a final map that you want to turn into a cartographic output, e.g. for a report or webpage, you do this in the Print Composer view.

  1. Clear the current layers and add the wyorkmap.shp and schools.shp shapefiles from the exercise 2 folder.

  2. Create a symbol map where different colours represent different average scores in English. Rrefer back to Exercise 3 if you need a reminder of how to do this.

  3. Choose a nice colour for the wyorkmap and adjust the transparency until you are satisfied with your map. (Hint: do this from the Layer Properties Panel, Style tab).

  4. To move to Print Composer, select Project > New Print Composer from the main menu. Alternatively, click the New Print Composer button: alt text

It will prompt you for a name. Enter whatever you want, e.g. My Map. This opens a new window so you can now easily move back and forth between the two views.

Manipulate the Maps in Print Composer View

  1. In Print Composer, you first need to decide on the orientation of the map, i.e. portrait or landscape. This can be changed in the Composition tab on the right hand side of the screen. For a map showing West Yorkshire, Landscape orientation would probably be the best.

  2. Add the map currently displayed in QGIS (or the Data View) by clicking on the Add new map icon: alt text

  3. You will need to draw a rectangle on the page in Print Composer to indicate where you want the map to be placed. Click in the white space and drag your mouse to create the area for your map. When you release the left mouse button you will see that your map is automatically imported.

  4. If the full extent of the map does not fit, then click on the page, go to the tab labelled Item properties and click on the Set to map canvas extent button.

  5. If you click the Select/Move item button alt text, you can then move the map around the page. Once you are happy with the location of the map on the page, you are then ready to add map elements.

Add Map Elements

  1. Add a legend by clicking on alt text and click in the map area, dragging an area for your legend. You can remove items from the legend in the Item properties tab. For example you might wish to remove the wyorkmap from the legend (uncheck the Auto update option if the tools are greyed out)

  2. Add a scale bar, north arrow and title using icons found in the same toolbar as that used to add the legend to the map. If you hover over the icons with your mouse, you will see what the different icons do.

  3. Once you have finished adding elements and are happy with your map, you can export it as an image file, which can then be added to documents, web pages, etc. To do this, click on the Export as image icon: alt text (or choose Composer > Export as Image).

  4. Bring this image into a Word document.

  5. You can also create a PDF – find the icon or menu item to do this and create a PDF of your map.