Tutorial:Regional yearbook map production

An external contractor will produce all maps for the Eurostat regional yearbook and it is important that the Excel worksheets used for producing the maps are being made in a consistent way for all chapters in the publication. The intention of this article is to formulate detailed rules both for external contractors preparing the data extractions and for contact persons in the statistical units checking the maps when they have been produced. At the end of this article, you have a short checklist for all the elements that should be included in the Excel files.

Here is the link to the regional yearbook for reference.

To choose suitable statistical indicators

The maps published in the regional yearbook are usually "choropleth" maps, please see: Wikipedia article on Choropleth map, which is a kind of thematic map where data is sorted into a number of statistical classes, represented by colour shades on the map.

This kind of map is most suitable for statistical indicators where the total numbers/levels of one indicator are divided by another indicator, like population or area (good examples: "Population density", "GDP per inhabitant" or the "Employment rate"), the map should ideally not show totals/levels.

File structure and numbering of the maps

All maps belonging to the same chapter are defined in the same Excel file with one worksheet per map. The first three columns of each Excel worksheet contain; 1) the NUTS codes, 2) the region names and 3) the statistical value.

The other columns (to the right of the actual data) contain other specifications, namely the map legend; the title, subtitle, the footnote (specifying the exceptions to the title) and the Eurostat data code.

The map legend should also contain the EU value (if available) and the data classes. Please compare with the example file which is stored at the bottom of this article to check if everything has been included. Here you find examples of data for all NUTS levels; national, NUTS 1 regions, NUTS 2 regions, NUTS 3 regions.

The maps should be numbered in a sequence that is logical for the text structure of the chapter/article and you should avoid changing the numbering of the maps at a later stage in the publication process.

The map numbering is not included in the map legend of the map, because sometimes the same map is reused in another publication or in a presentation and then the numbering is not relevant or even false. It's still possible to identify the maps because the map number should be included in the file name of the output file of the map, normally PDF or PNG.

Map template

The same map template is used for all standard maps produced for the Eurostat regional yearbook and is based on the latest NUTS version (currently NUTS 2013).

Map 1: Nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments, by NUTS 2 regions, 2014 (million nights spent by residents and non-residents) - Source: Eurostat Eurostat (tour_occ_nin2)

Data coverage and protocol order

The geographical coverage of each maps should be the following: the Member States of the European Union, the 4 EFTA countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) and the 5 accession or candidate countries (Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Albania, Serbia and Turkey). All codes have to be present even if Eurostat does not have data for all these countries - not having data is also an important piece of information to our users.

Serbia (RS) is a new candidate country since 1 March 2012, but statistical regions have not yet been decided for Serbia, so for the time being only national data can be displayed on maps.

Please remember that the protocol order should be respected not only for the sorting of the countries in the actual data set, but also for the order of the countries/regions mentioned in the footnote.

For the most up-to-date list of country names in different languages and correct protocol order, please see: Tutorial:Country codes and protocol order.

Data not available

It is important that the NUTS codes for all countries and/or regions are present in the Excel worksheets, even if data is missing, because of the category called "Data not available". This is one of the data classes in the map and is represented by a dark grey colour. Territories outside the coverage of the standard map template are represented by a light grey colour on the map and for these countries only country borders are shown, no regional borders.

"Data not available" should be represented by a colon ":" in the third column of the Excel worksheet called "Value", please avoid having empty cells in the value field, because that is not accepted by the map production tool and will give error messages when trying to produce the map.

The NUTS classification

The EU Member States are divided into statistical regions according to the NUTS Regulation, which is a legal act. The abbreviation "NUTS" stands for "Nomenclature of territorial units for statistics". Regions in the EFTA and candidate countries are called "Statistical regions" and follow the same general rules as the NUTS classification, but for the statistical regions there is no legal base, it's based on so-called "Gentlemen's agreements".

The three different NUTS levels are based on the size of the population living in the regions. In densely populated areas, the regions are smaller and in more sparsely populated areas larger. Existing national administrative structures in each country are taken into account when deciding on the creation or amendment of NUTS regions. The population thresholds for deciding on the NUTS level of regions are the following:

Level Minimum Maximum
NUTS 1 3 million inhabitants 7 million inhabitants
NUTS 2 800 000 inhabitants 3 million inhabitants
NUTS 3 150 000 inhabitants 800 000 inhabitants


This means that for some small Member States (both regarding population and/or area), the same territory is "repeated" on one or more NUTS levels. For example, in the following six Member States the whole country consists of one single region on NUTS level 1 and 2: Estonia (EE), Cyprus (CY), Latvia (LV), Lithuania (LT), Luxembourg (LU) and Malta (MT). This is also the case for two EFTA countries; Iceland (IS) and Liechtenstein (LI) and two candidate countries; Montenegro (ME) and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (MK).

The European Commission decides in agreement with the European Council and the Parliament on revisions of the NUTS classification based on proposals from Eurostat within regular intervals. A new version of the NUTS Regulation, "NUTS 2013", entered into force on 1 January 2015 and that is the current NUTS version.

For more information about the NUTS classification, please consult: the NUTS dedicated section on the Eurostat website

NUTS level displayed on map

In the document called "Examples of map definitions in Excel", you will find examples of map definitions for all NUTS levels; national level, NUTS 1 regions, NUTS 2 regions and NUTS 3 regions.

In some cases regional data for a given country is missing in the database and then the general rule is to take data from the NUTS level immediately above. If, for example, data for NUTS 2 regions is missing for a country, then you can show data for NUTS 1 regions instead. In the Excel worksheets, you just insert the codes for the NUTS 1 regions instead of NUTS 2 regions and the mapping software will "understand" and show the correct borders on the map. You must however not forget to mention all exceptions in the footnote of the map (see example below).

It is also important only to give reference to a meaningful NUTS levels in the footnote. For instance, if regional data for NUTS 2 regions is missing for Denmark, please give reference to "national level" instead of "NUTS 1 regions" in the footnote, since the country of Denmark consists of one single NUTS 1 region; this is what we mean by meaningful.

Other spatial units

There are also other spatial units, other than NUTS regions, in the maps for the Eurostat regional yearbook, like for example Urban Audit cities, airports, or sea ports. The general rules for these maps are the same as for regional maps; the first column contains the geographical code, the second the label of the geographical entity and the third column contains the statistical value. The rules for writing the textual information are also the same as for any other statistical map.

Main title and subtitle

The map titles should be written as consistently as possible throughout the publication. A map title should be self-explanatory and unambiguous for the users. From the title alone you should be informed about which statistical subject the map is about, which reference year it concerns, which measuring unit is being used, and so on. Please remember that the maps are often taken out of their context and used for example in presentations, so all explanations needed to understand the map properly should be included in the map.

The title consists of a main title and a subtitle. If totals are being used (e.g. for age groups or gender) this does not have to be mentioned explicitly in the title. Please avoid using abbreviations, if they not are very well known and easily understandable to a wider public.

The title consists of the following elements and in this order:

Main title (bold):

Indicator or variable name of the statistical values shown on the map (please use the same title as in the database and/or Main table, if you don't have a strong reason for not doing so)

Then the different statistical breakdowns are listed, for instance by different age groups, by sex, by NACE-activities, by NUTS 2 regions and so on (always with the preposition "by" before the breakdown and the NUTS level should be mentioned as the last element before the year).

Reference year or years concerned

Subtitle (normal, in brackets):

The measurement unit or units of the statistical indicator, please use % for percentage, but spell out "percentage points" if that is the case. The subtitle usually starts with a lower case letter (unless national spelling rules prevent it, which is for example the case with German nouns).

Notes and footnotes

The footnotes are normally specifying exceptions to the title and should only be used if needed. If you have exceptions to the main title of the map, you add a "Note:" at the bottom of the map and list all exceptions in simple sentences. The exceptions mentioned can be of different type; exceptions regarding the reference year or the NUTS level are the most common, but there can be other exceptions as well, regarding for example estimated values, confidential data or definitions of statistical content.

When specific countries or regions are mentioned in the footnote; please spell out the country names instead of using the country codes and list them in protocol order. Please note that the names of the countries are written in the language of the publication (German, English and French), but the region names are written as in the NUTS Regulation, which means in the official language of each country and with the NUTS code in brackets immediately after the region name.

Eurostat source codes

The Eurostat source codes are being used in all Eurostat publications and they are placed directly below every table, figure or map and are hyperlinked in the electronic version. The purpose of the source code is to give users quick and easy access to the most recent data available for a given statistical indicator, without having to spend time on searching the database.

There are two different kinds of online data codes, one leading to a Main table (previously called "Predefined table") and the other one leading directly to the Eurostat database (open dataset). Here are examples of both types of Eurostat data codes:

Source: Eurostat (online data code: tgs00007) Main table

Source: Eurostat (online data code: reg_e2gdp) Open dataset

If a Main table exist for the indicator, please use that as your first choice, but if no Main table has been defined, you have to link to one or several dataset codes instead.

In the PDF version of the map the data code is static; the actual hyperlink will be inserted at a later stage in the publication process.

The hyperlinks will be so called generic or stable hyperlinks, which lead to a search query for the dataset code instead of leading directly to the dataset. The advantage of the stable links is that it is possible to redirect a link from an old dataset to a new one, if the dataset code changes. For more clarifications regarding stable hyperlinks, please see Tutorial:How to create an article - insert links .

If any dataset code in your chapter is changed before the final print version of the regional yearbook is produced, please give notice to unit E4 as soon as possible, because the code in the printed version should then also be corrected.

Example of a map title with footnote and Eurostat source code

Map 4.4: Students following vocational programmes, by NUTS 2 regions, 2013

(% share of all students in ISCED level 3)

Note: Germany : only available for NUTS level 1 regions. Croatia: only available at national level. Greece and Iceland: 2012.

Source: Eurostat (online data code: educ_uoe_enra13)

The EU value

We would like to include the EU value in as many maps as possible, because it gives an indication of the relation of each region in comparison to the EU average. The EU is displayed just above the statistical classes in the map legend (below the actual map).

The statistical classes

For defining the statistical classes to each map, you have to analyse the distribution of the data and decide which method for grouping the classes you are going to use. The maps in the regional yearbook usually have 3-6 statistical classes and there are different methods for sorting the data. The method you apply depends on the message you want to convey, different sorting methods give very different results on the map!

One recommended method is to use natural breaks in the distribution of the data series and group the data according to them; another recommended method is to use the quintile method and make one class around the EU average and to make two classes below and two classes above the EU average (5 classes in total).

Colour shades for the statistical classes

The regional yearbook will follow the Eurostat publication theme colours for the colouring of the statistical classes on the map. The theme colours are described in detail in the Eurostat publications graphical style guide

The Eurostat publication themes are the following (please consult the Eurostat style guide for more details regarding the colours):

Publications theme Statistical subject Theme colour
Theme 1 General and regional statistics blue
Theme 2 Economy and finance lilac
Theme 3 Population and social conditions yellow
Theme 4 Industry, trade and services blue
Theme 5 Agriculture and fisheries green
Theme 6 International trade red
Theme 7 Transport lime green
Theme 8 Environment and energy turquoise
Theme 9 Science and technology orange

Checklist for the Excel worksheets to be used for producing the maps

Data extraction:

1st column: NUTS codes in protocol order and for a specific NUTS level, the NUTS codes should be in upper case, formatted as text and with no leading space before or after the code.

Please note that the code DEC0 for the German NUTS 2 region "Saarland" will automatically be converted to "Dec-00" or to a numeric value, due to specific Excel parameterization, if the cells are not formatted as text.

Different NUTS levels can be used for individual countries if data is missing, but there should be no territorial overlap and no missing codes and the NUTS level exceptions have to be mentioned in the footnote to the map.

2nd column: the label of the Region name in the official language of the country as spelled in the NUTS Regulation (please compare with "Examples of map definitions in Excel" if you need to fill in the region names).

3rd column: the statistical value of the indicator for each NUTS region, formatted as number and with not more than two decimal places. Missing data is represented by a colon ":" instead of a value.


Textual information (map legend):

Map number: the number of the chapter and sequence within the chapter (e.g. Map 12.3)

Main title (in bold): name of statistical indicator, different statistical breakdowns, "by NUTS X regions", reference year(s)

Subtitle (new line, normal style and in brackets) name of statistical unit

EU = [value]

Statistical classes (3 - 6 classes)

Footnote, (if needed). The footnote starts with "Note:" and lists any exceptions to the title.

Eurostat data code e.g. Source: Eurostat (online data code: tgs00007)

Please use this Excel file as an example for producing Excel worksheets to be used for producing maps: Excel.jpg Examples of map definitions

Contact: mailto:ESTAT-GISCO-MAPS@ec.europa.eu