Story Maps is interactive, digital storytelling software that allows users to “harness the power of the map” to tell historical, geographical, and social narratives. Below is a basic tutorial on beginning to use the software.

  1. Creating a Story

First, go to the site: To create a story, select My Stories. The screen you are directed to should look like this: 

After clicking “Create Story,” there are several different options for formats. For the purposes of this tutorial, we will be using the “Map Journal” format.

2. Developing the Cover Story

After titling the map, you will be asked to either create or select a map. This map serves as the home page for your story. Position the map in the way you would like viewers of your story to initially view the map.  You can accomplish this by clicking the “custom configuration” button that appears after you have created the map. 

After the map is set, you will want to add text that provides the reader basic information about the project. The map and this text will serve as the cover page.

3. Adding to the Story

After setting up the cover page, you can add additional sections. With each section, you can reposition the map to highlight a specific area covered by information in that section. For instance, if you are doing a project on New England, your map on your cover page might be of the entirety of New England, but the first section might zoom in on Massachusetts.

To change the map location in a new section, select custom configuration and utilize the zoom and arrow buttons to display the preferred area.

4. Including Images and Video

A button in the screen that provides the text of the story allows for a user to include video, images, and webpages in the Story Map. Clicking the camera and video button, pictured below, enables this function.

After clicking the button, directions for the inclusion of outside media appear.

5. Marking Up the Map

With StoryMaps, it is possible to add drop-pins, mark out routes, and highlight locations of the map. To annotate the map beyond zooming and repositioning, it is necessary to return to the home screen of your story. It should look something like this:

Click the Edit Map button. This will redirect you to ArcGIS, the host server of the maps. The web address of this site is

Clicking the edit button pops up the screen with the options for map annotation, pictured below:

After selecting the form of annotation you would like to use and placing it on the map, there are several options. If you click the point, line, or area, you can add a textual description of the space. You can also change the symbol by clicking the “change symbol” button. A host of symbols are offered, including arrows, disaster symbols, people, and places. You can also add an image by entering the image  URL.

6. Changing the Basemap

Staying in the ArcGIS screen, you can change the look of the basemap by clicking the “Basemap” button. 

Options are listed below:

This tutorial provides a basic foundation for beginning to construct a Story Maps project. For further direction and tutorial, contact Academic ITS at