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Distance Cartograms - Part 1 in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows

Learn how to create a Distance Cartogram in PowerPoint.


Product/Version: PowerPoint 2013 for Windows

OS: Windows 7 and higher

Before we explore distance cartograms, let us first understand what a cartogram is. A cartogram is a combination of a chart/diagram and a map and represents data in a way that makes it easier for the audience to grasp the point. Such cartograms have been in use since the mid-1800s. Nowadays, popular cartograms are of two types:

  1. Area Cartograms: These cartograms represent map data by resizing them to match other data – for example, if maps were resized to population rather than area, then the world map would have over-sized map representations of countries such as China and India, as shown in Figure 1, below.

    Area Cartogram
    Source: Global Geographic Topic - Population Patterns - Patterns
    Figure 1: Area Cartogram
  2. Distance Cartograms: These cartograms are not really conventional maps. Rather these use concentric circles to represent distance, and also earnings, time, etc.

We will not explore the creatio of Area Cartograms in PowerPoint since that's out of the scope of what you would be expected to create within a slide program! However, it's entirely and easily possible to create a Distance Cartogram using PowerPoint's native Shapes and the Merge Shape commands.


Want some ready to use Distance Cartogram samples? Try our Distance Cartogram PowerPoint templates kit.

How to Draw Distance Cartogram in PowerPoint?

Follow these steps to draw a Distance Cartogram in PowerPoint:

  1. Launch PowerPoint. Most of the time PowerPoint will open with a new slide in a presentation. Change the Slide Layout to Blank.
  2. Now select the Oval shape from the Shapes gallery.
  3. And then click anywhere on the slide. This will insert a circle shape in a predefined size (typically 1 inch x 1 inch), as shown in Figure 2.

    Click to insert circle shape
    Figure 2: Click to insert circle shape

    Draw more circles as required. Then resize your circles so that they are sequentially larger by a constant value.

    For this tutorial, we drew and resized five perfect circles – each subsequent circle was larger by 1 inch, as shown in Figure 3, below.

    Five perfect circles larger than each other by 1 inch
    Figure 3: Five perfect circles larger than each other by 1 inch
  4. Select all circles, as shown in Figure 4.

    Select all the circle shapes
    Figure 4: Select all the circle shapes
  5. Thereafter, align all selected circles together by choosing the Align Middle and Align Center options to end up with what you see in Figure 5.

    Selected circle shapes aligned to middle and center
    Figure 5: Selected circle shapes aligned to middle and center
  6. Group all the circles as one object as shown in Figure 6.

    Group all circles into one object
    Figure 6: Group all circles into one object
  7. Select the grouped object and align it to the center of the slide.
  8. Now ungroup all the circles, as shown in Figure 7.

    Ungroup Circles
    Figure 7: Ungroup Circles
  9. With the shapes selected, as shown in Figure 7 above, access the Drawing Tools Format tab of the Ribbon (highlighted in red within Figure 8). Within the Drawing Tools Format tab, click the Merge Shapes | Fragment option. At the time of writing, the Fragment option was only available in PowerPoint 2013.

    Shape Fragement

    Figure 8: Shape Fragement
  10. Now you will have perfectly cut donuts that you can recolor, apply fills to, and represent as data. In Figure 9, we have segregated these individual shapes so that you can see what we have achieved (compare with Figure 4).

    Perfectly cut doughnut shapes
    Figure 9: Perfectly cut doughnut shapes

At this point you know how to create a basic distance cartogram. Next, let us explore how you can use the created structure of cartograms in our Distance Cartograms in PowerPoint 2013 - Part 2 tutorial.

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