About Field Papers

Field Papers is a tool to help you create a multi-page atlas of anywhere in the world. Once you print it, you can take it outside, into the field, to record notes and observations about the area you're looking at, or use it as your own personal tour guide in a new city. Keep your eye on the Watch page for new atlases around the world.

Вторая пензенская картовечеринка // Second mapping party in Penza, Russia
Вторая пензенская картовечеринка // Second mapping party in Penza, Russia
Вторая пензенская картовечеринка // Second mapping party in Penza, Russia by Alexander Kachkaev, CC BY 2.0

Later, you can photograph each page in the atlas, and upload back into Field Papers. These photographs are called "snapshots" on the site. When you upload a snapshot, it's connected automatically to the atlas from whence it came. You can transcribe any notes you made in the field into Field Papers (as points or areas) and share the result with your friends, or download your notes for later analysis.

You don't need a GPS to make a map or learn complicated desktop GIS software to use Field Papers.

This project is a continuation of Walking Papers, which was built for the OpenStreetMap (OSM) editing community. Field Papers allows you to print multiple-page atlases using several map styles (including satellite imagery and black and white cartography to save ink) and has built in note annotation tools with GIS format downloads. Even though you can use Field Papers without creating an account, you also have the options of collecting any atlases you make under your own username.

Curious about OSM? It's a "wikipedia-style map of the world" that anyone can edit. Field Papers and Walking Papers both provide tools to “roundtrip” map data through paper, making it easier to collect on-the-ground information and edits to OSM data. If you'd like to learn how to make edits in OSM, please visit Learn OSM.

Advanced Tools

Field Papers offers several automation and map customization tools. These tools and workflows are provided for technical users and limited to no supported is provided. If a feature is important to you, we're available for hire. Send a request to info@stamen.com describing your proposal.

  1. Atlas Template Tool - Field Papers includes a HTML form based template API that you can host anywhere and populate with preset values for each use case. The form posts those parameters to Field Papers and populates each phase of the make atlas process with those values, while allowing the user to modify the area of interest, etc.

  2. Incident Maps - Field checking a list of feature locations? Upload a list of locations in GeoJSON format and we'll center an atlas page on each incident to give you a head start and liberate you from the atlas page grid.

  3. Custom Map Styles - MBTiles Uploader Tool - Use TileMill to design your own basemap or leverage existing ArcGIS geodata via Arc2Earth to export maps out of ArcMap in the MapBoxTiles SQLite data format and upload them for use on Field Papers. You'll need to be logged into Field Papers to save these to your account and have them available in the make atlas process.

  4. Custom Map Styles - TMS endpoints - Already published your basemap online as a tiled map service? Use our template tool detailed above to point to the TMS endpoint. Example: http://tile.stamen.com/watercolor/{Z}/{X}/{Y}.jpg.

  5. Edit in OSM - Field Papers plays well with others. If you upload a snapshot of your map at Walking Papers, you can use the tools there to edit OpenStreetMap in Potlatch and JOSM using your snapshot as a reference layer. Common tasks include adding streets, parks, building outlines, addresses, business names, and more.

  6. GIS Analysis - Need to perform advanced spatial analysis or add structured data? Download your notes in Esri Shapefile format (SHP) or GeoJSON (geographic projection) from each Atlas page. We also offer a GeoTIFF download (in web Mercator projection) of each atlas page snapshot, also from the Atlas page's activity stream. These files can be used in desktop applications like QGIS or ArcGIS.

  7. Unstructured Text - FIeld Papers allows you to write notes about each feature when it’s added to the map.

  8. Structured Data - Need to store structured form data about each map feature? Field Papers provides a large text field and you have two options: (a) use key:value pairs or (b) enter a uniqueID for a data join in a desktop GIS app with a worksheet of structured form data. An example of a key:value pair entered into the notes widget: type:park, name:Golden Gate, about:Large urban park with museums and buffalo. You can use another program outside of Field Papers to split those into separate columns. An example of a uniqueID is using a series of sequential numbers (1, 2, 3) entered into the notes widget like: 1. You'd fill out a separate stack of structured data "forms" about each feature in the field, marking the sequential uniqueID onto the map, onto it's form, filling out the form. Back at the computer, you'd add a note for each feature on Field Papers, noting the uniqueID. You'd transcribe the forms into a worksheet using OpenOffice or Excel noting both the uniqueID and the structured data about that feature. Download the GeoJSON or SHP from Field Papers, export your worksheet data, and use a program like QGIS or ArcGIS to "join" the two together.

  9. Fork us on Github - Field Papers in an open source project hosted at Github.


The first version of Field Papers was launched in May 2012, in partnership with Caerus Associates. In June of 2013, we relaunched the site in collaboration with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) with major improvements to site performance, new metrics on atlas creation, as well as a general usability upgrade.


The project is most particularly inspired by Aaron Cope then of Flickr and Ben / Russell / Tom at Really Interesting Group, whose Papercamp / Papernet and Things Our Friends Have Written On The Internet 2008 help all this post-digital, medieval technology make sense.