ArcGIS StoryMaps

Using effective titles and subtitles in your story maps

Note: This blog article covers the classic Esri Story Maps which are in mature support and scheduled to be retired in late 2025. Story authors are strongly encouraged to use the new ArcGIS StoryMaps to create stories.

For more information about transitioning to the new StoryMaps, see ArcGIS StoryMaps resources. For more information about the transition from classic Esri Story Maps to the new ArcGIS StoryMaps, see Esri Story Maps: Now in mature support.

As a story map author there’s lots of little things to consider which, when summed, can make a big difference in attracting an audience to your stories. After the initial visual impression, the title and subtitle are usually the first elements of your story map that are noticed.

Effective titles and subtitles can entice otherwise hesitant users into venturing further. While definitely more art than science, here’s a few examples to consider as you craft your own story maps.

Speak in color

Do you like beer? Do you live in St. Louis? Then this title and subtitle might be all that’s needed to entice you into the story.

But if you’re neither a beer lover nor resident, what you read above likely won’t lure you further. But suppose some changes were made:

Perhaps a little over-the-top (over-the-hop?), but even if beer isn’t your thing, the new title and subtitle add a little spice and color to an otherwise black and white introduction.


Often a question can be a way to create interest in your story. Here’s a few examples that lure you into the story with questions, even if you hadn’t thought about the questions the story answers before.

Top this!

David Letterman made the Top Ten famous. Guinness documents the ultimate. Everyone seems interested in the best and the worst of just about anything, so story maps titled with the top (or bottom) of of any subject seem to attract attention.

Promote your cause

Have a cause you want to bring to public attention? Then think about engaging your audience using powerful statements that push buttons and pull strings. Here’s an example from  a recent story map on the plight of Africa’s wild elephants.

And here are a couple more that lure you into the story using strong words, facts, and figures:

Other considerations

Browse the Story Maps Gallery and see what titles entice you to view the story. You’ll know a good title and subtitle when you see them, and can use your experiences to help craft yours. Other things to consider include:

Titles and subtitles are a simple part of every story map, yet can be a powerful way to highlight your story and attract viewers.

For more information:

About the author

Corporate technology evangelist and advocate at Esri, focusing on ways to broaden access to geographic information and helping customers succeed with the ArcGIS system. On a good day I'm making a map, on a great day I'm on one. Email or connect on LinkedIn (


Next Article

End-to-end spatial data science 5: Machine learning: Cluster analysis in Python and ArcGIS

Read this article