Designing a Basemap

Table of Contents

  1. Designing a Basemap
  2. Setting Up Your Workspace
  3. Download Data from the DataSF Website
  4. Refreshing a Folder in the Catalog Tree
  5. Changing the Map Projection of the Data Frame
  6. Changing the Map Size and Position
  7. Preparing the Layout
  8. Adjusting Line Weight and Color
  9. Cartographic Typography
  10. Skill Drill: Practicing Cartographic Typography
  11. Skill Drill: Choose a Map Theme
  12. Skill Drill: Finalizing the Poster

Download Data from the DataSF Website

DataSF is a clearinghouse of public domain datasets available from the City and County of San Francisco. The data on this website is free to use under the Public Domain Dedication and License v1.0. Open the Chrome browser and navigate to the DataSF website at

If you do not have the Chrome browser, you can download it here.

An image of the DataSF website
DataSF provides geospatial data organized under several themes.

On search bar, type the keywords “SF Shoreline and Islands” and click the magnifying glass.

An image of the DataSF search bar
You can quickly search for data using keywords.

When the results appear, click the link that says, SF Shoreline and Islands. When you do so, a map view appears with a visual display of the data over a Google Maps background. Near the right, click the Export tab. Then, right click on the Shapefile link, select Save Link As, then save the file to your original folder.

An image of the DataSF Map Viewer
DataSF offers data in a variety of geospatial formats.

When done, click the Browse Data link near the top of the page. Repeat these steps for using the following keywords:

  • Recreation and Parks Properties
  • SF Urban Tree Canopy
  • Streets of San Francisco
  • Muni Simple Routes
  • Realtor Neighborhoods

You should also search for building using the keyword Building Footprints. The steps for downloading this dataset are a little different. It takes you to an external link where you will download the file in geodatabase format. A geodatabase is a kind of container file that can hold many types of GIS data layers. It is used as a way to organize related datasets.

Click the Building Footprints link. On the Building Footprints page, right click the button that says ZIP, select Save Link As, then save the file to your original folder.

Be sure to download each file to your original folder. Leave all the files compressed for now. You will decompress the files in a later step.