How to Use the Mask Tool

Learn how to highlight or mask specific geographies that can then be shared, or put into a presentation.

★ Useful for all users

Full Video Walkthrough

This tutorial will help display data in specified regions while masking others. Similar to the Draw Graphics tool, the Mask Tool is also useful in drawing the audience’s attention to certain areas, but does a better job in highlighting a large portion of the map. In this tutorial, we will review how to:

  • Access the Mask Tool
  • Mask an Area on a Map
  • Make Adjustments
  • Share/Export and Exit the tool

Preparation 

Before using the Mask Data tool to win your audience’s attention, you need to have three things ready – a relevant data layer added to the map room, the data geographic level (county, tract, ZCTA, etc.) changed to meet your need (if various options exist), and your location placed in the middle of the map view area. Check the short video below if you missed any of the three steps.

Access the Mask Tool

The Mask Tool is accessible to you once a data layer is added to the Map Room. You can access it by clicking the button at the top left or the “Tools” bar on the bottom right of the legend. In either way, click on under Map Tools in the Tools panel.

Mask an Area on a Map

Now that you are in the Mask Tool panel, you should first select in the Mask Layer Geography list. You might want the mask layer geography consistent with the data geographic level you set earlier. After this step, you could click on the map to unmask the areas you want to display.

Make Adjustments

If you made a mistake while determining which areas to unmask on the map, you could easily correct it in the Mask Tool panel. To remove a selection, simply uncheck the box from the list of “Area of Interest”.

For better display, you might also want to change the contrast between your selection and the background. Drag the transparency slider in the Mask Tool panel to where you see fit.

Share/Export & Exit the Tool

After all the selection and adjustment, you could share or export the map the way it is by clicking at the top right. When you are done, always remember to check to remove the mask layer before you cross out the Mask Tool panel.

If you need any additional assistance feel free to email us at sparkmap@missouri.edu