Online and print maps often use many of the features that are included in the OpenStreetMap (OSM), produced by the OpenStreetMap Foundation of the United Kingdom.

What to Draw

OpenStreetMap allows for the mapping of just about anything and everything.  Instead of mapping everything, though, we will focus on some specific features that can greatly improve the aesthetics and visual quality of the maps we use online and in print.

  • Water – rivers, streams, riverbeds, lakes, ponds, pools
  • Landuse – agriculture, greenfields, parks,brownfields, school, hospitals, parking, commercial areas, residential areas
  • Groundcover –  forest, grass
  • Buildings – commercial buildings, houses, apartment buildings
  • Major Roads – highways, commercial thoroughfares, major residential connectors


There are many ways to edit OSM.  Try one of these editors to start with:

  • iD (in browser editor)
  • JOSM (Desktop program)

JOSM Tools

JOSM is a great way to work with all of the data in OSM.  Here are some specific plugins that can make life easier:

  • fastdraw – easier complex lines that trace along the outlines of rivers and forests
  • buildings – easier to quickly outline buildings

OSM Training is the very best place to find step-by-step training for OSM.  On LearnOSM you can read about how to use iD or JOSM in multiple languages.

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