Now that you’ve got a map, you need to be able to print it or to export it to a document. The reason is, a GIS map file is not an image! Rather, it saves the state of the GIS program, with references to all the layers, their labels, colors, etc. So for someone who doesn’t have the data or the same GIS program (such as QGIS), the map file will be useless. Luckily, QGIS can export its map file to a format that anyone’s computer can read, as well as printing out the map if you have a printer connected. Both exporting and printing is handled via the Map Composer. The goal for this lesson: To use the QGIS Map Composer to create a basic map with all the required settings. QGIS allows you to create multiple maps using the same map file. For this reason, it has a tool called the Composer Manager. (You could also close the dialog and navigate to a composer via the File ‣ Print Composers menus, as in the image below.) Now you’ve got the page layout the way you wanted it, but this page is still blank. It clearly lacks a map. Let’s fix that! When zooming in, the map view will not refresh by itself. This is so that it doesn’t waste your time redrawing the map while you’re zooming the page to where you want it, but it also means that if you zoom in or out, the map will be at the wrong resolution and will look ugly or unreadable. Remember that the size and position you’ve given the map doesn’t need to be final. You can always come back and change it later if you’re not satisfied. For now, you need to ensure that you’ve saved your work on this map. Because a Composer in QGIS is part of the main map file, you’ll need to save your main project. Go to the main QGIS window (the one with the Layers list and all the other familiar elements you were working with before), and save your project from there as usual. Now your map is looking good on the page, but the reader is not being told what’s going on yet. They need some context, which is what you’ll provide for them by adding map elements. First, let’s add a title. But if you tried it, you’ll see that it’s difficult to align the label to be completely centered to the map! Luckily, there’s a tool for that. A small lock icon will appear in the corner to tell you that an element can’t be dragged right now. You can always right-click on an element again to unlock it, though. In fact, it’s probably best to keep it black as per the default. The key is that the font should not be distracting, otherwise people who see the page will be looking at the heading instead of reading the map! The map reader also needs to be able to see what various things on the map actually mean. In some cases, like the place names, this is quite obvious. In other cases, it’s more difficult to guess, like the colors of the farms. Let’s add a new legend. In the example, the Farms layer’s areas were computed in units that aren’t easy to convert to land area directly. If your farms are classified by area or some other criteria, you should rename those classes to something that would make sense to the map reader. In the example, we renamed the smallest class small area and the largest one large area, with the one in the middle moderate area and the rest blanked out. Finally the map is ready for export! You’ll see the export buttons near the top left corner of the Composer window: The button on the right is the Print button, which interfaces with a printer. Since the printer options will differ depending on the model of printer that you’re working with, it’s probably better to consult the printer manual or a general guide to printing for more information on this topic. The other three buttons allow you to export the map page to a file. There are three export formats to choose from: Exporting as an image will give you a selection of various common image formats to choose from. This is probably the simplest option, but the image it creates is “dead” and difficult to edit. If you’re sending the map to a cartographer (who may want to edit the map for publication), it’s best to export as an SVG. SVG stands for “Scalable Vector Graphic”, and can be imported to programs like Inkscape or other vector image editing software. If you need to send the map to a client, it’s most common to use a PDF, because it’s easier to set up printing options for a PDF. Some cartographers may prefer PDF as well, if they have a program that allows them to import and edit this format. On the next page, you will be given an assignment to complete. This will allow you to practice the techniques you have learned so far. Source.