I am creating an atlas with multiple maps in QGIS. Each map is at a scale of roughly 1:12,000 and also includes an overview map at a scale of 1:200,000 in the corner which shows the entire region of interest.

QGIS Composer allows you to add an "Overview" (AKA extent indicator in ArcGIS), which shows the extents of larger scale maps within the overview map.

I am hoping to show the extents of all of the maps in the each overview, and not just the extent current map.

It doesn't seem like this is possible in Composer so I tried doing it manually by creating a shapefile of all of the composer extents for the main map from the project. Then I realized that there is no tool available to quickly generate rectangular features from extent values.

What method can I use to efficiently generate the overview indicators that I need, or polygons which could serve the same purpose?

I can generate one indicator of map extent (AKA "overview") in the overview map, but I would like to show the extent of each map in the atlas within the overview map

  • to clarify - are you using an atlas?
    – ndawson
    Dec 13, 2017 at 5:43
  • Yes, I am. The overview indicator moves on the indicator map, along with the main map extent, just as it should. I am just hoping to see the extents of the other maps as well.
    – eyerah
    Dec 14, 2017 at 1:06

1 Answer 1


Create a new temporary scratch point layer. Place a point in the center of each map extent. Use rectangular point symbols. Set the symbol width to the appropriate width in map units. For maps in landscape layout, add a 90 degree rotation.

enter image description here

The points will look like this:

enter image description here

All the map overviews will be the same size. If your maps were different sizes, you could add an attribute to the point layer called "map width" and use data-defined override for the symbol size.

EDIT: How to display only the indicator for the active atlas page

Instead of creating a new point layer, change the style of the atlas coverage layer to Centroid Fill. Style the centroid point marker as described above. enter image description here

Now change to a rule-based style, and add a filter based on whichever field you used for the atlas page names.

"atlas page name field" = @atlas_pagename

  • Thank you @csk this is a creative solution to the problem. I will try playing with this to see if I can get the aspect ratio of the frames right.
    – eyerah
    Dec 18, 2017 at 20:01
  • If the frames all have the same aspect ratio you could use a custom svg marker, or else use the geometry generator.
    – csk
    Jan 10, 2018 at 20:20
  • Yes that would work perfectly. The only other problem that I need to solve it to try to make it so that only the indicator for the active atlas page appears.
    – eyerah
    Jan 19, 2018 at 23:13
  • That is simple to do. I'll edit my answer to include how.
    – csk
    Jan 22, 2018 at 16:59
  • You're very welcome. If I answered your question, please accept my answer by clicking the check mark next to my answer. That way other users who have a similar question will know that this solution is worth trying.
    – csk
    Jan 22, 2018 at 17:59

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