Embedding a Story Map within a Story Map

Embedded maps and media are an inherent and essential part of any story map. But in certain cases you may want to embed more than just a mapyou may want to embed another story map to help tell your story, using story maps as building blocks for other story maps.

To embed, or not to embed?

Embedding a story map within a story map can be a powerful addition to your story, however, it is not always desirable. It can detract from your story, and create a more complicated experience for the viewer by presenting too many options when a more streamlined approach might be better. And if you embed too many different kinds of story maps, the juxtaposition from one user experience to another might confuse the user, and detract from the story. But used prudently and wisely, embedding story maps within other story maps can add new context, detail, and complement your overall storytelling needs.

Of the story map choices, Story Map JournalStory Map Series, and Story Map Cascade make for good prospective story map hosts. Their layouts enable the effective use of an embedded story map, of course depending on which story maps you embed.

Story Map Swipe and Spyglass is one of the most effective to embed, because it’s has a simple user experience and offers specific capabilities that can enhance your story. But other story maps and story map combinations can be used effectively, see the Examples section below.

Minimize before embedding

One thing to consider is that each Story Map has its own title, subtitle, and other application elements that might duplicate other text and functions when embedded. For that reason you will want to minimize the user interface. A URL parameter (&embed) can be used to minimize the UI of the following story maps: Story Map Basic, Story Map Tour, Story Map Swipe and Spyglass, Story Map Shortlist, and Story Map Series.

Minimizing the UI makes for a more streamlined appearance, and eliminates duplication of titles, descriptions, and other elements. Other story maps can be embedded, however the UI cannot be minimized.

The link below opens a Story Map Spyglass as normally configured:


The following link opens a Story Map Spyglass using &embed to minimize the UI:


As mentioned previously, Story Map Swipe and Spyglass is a good choice for embedding, offering simple and useful capabilities to compare two layers or maps.

How to embed a Story Map

It’s easy to embed a story map, simply add them as a Web page in the hosting story map builder. For the purpose of embedding, it’s best to streamline the story map you wish to embed and remove any unneeded extras. Unneeded extras to eliminate might be the title, summary, links, description, and other elements that can be replaced by elements in the host story map. Use &embed whenever possible.

The simpler the story map, the better for embedding, and this might mean authoring a different version of a story map specifically for that purpose.

In the examples below you can follow along using Spyglass on the Past: Chicago 1868 and Today (a Story Map Swipe & Spyglass). Click the link to view it, and note the use of &embed at the end of the story map’s URL.

Story Map Series

To embed a story map in a Story Map Series, follow the steps below.

Step 1. Add a new tab, entry, or bullet depending on the layout chosen, and enter a title.

Step 2. Choose Web page.

Step 3. Copy and paste the story map URL, making sure &embed is appended.

Step 4. Click Configure.

5. Choose Fill (the default).

6. Click Add and complete the tab, entry, or bullet.


Story Map Journal

To embed a story map in a Story Map Journal follow the steps below.

Step 1. Add a new Section, and in the Main Stage Content enter a title.

Step 2. Choose Web page.

Step 3. Copy and paste the story map URL, and make sure &embed is appended.

Step 4. Click Configure.

Step 5. Choose Fill (the default).

Step 6. Click Next to complete the new section.

Story Map Cascade

Story Map Cascade is composed of sections containing narrative text and media, such as images, web map and web scenes, videos, or other web content. Sections can be sequential or immersive, and story maps can be embedded in both types.

To embed a story map in Story Map Cascade follow these steps.

Step 1. Add a sequential or immersive section.

Step 2. Add Media.

Step 3. Click Link to Content.

Step 4. Paste the story map URL (including &embed) into the input box.

Step 5. Click the check mark.

Step 6. Complete authoring your Cascade, and save.


This Story Map Series from Georgia DNR embeds a minimized Story Map Swipe in the third tab to show the change in disease spread from 2013 to 2017. This is an effective use of embedding to add additional capabilities and context within the hosting story map.

This Story Map Series from Energy.gov uses tabs to organize embedded Story Map Journals. What’s nice about this app is that it’s a consistent pattern – each tab has a Story Map Journal, making the user experience seem seamless.

Summary and more information

Like adding seasoning to a fine meal, less is often more. Use embedded story maps within other story maps sparingly, and only when essential to tell your story.

Consider consistency – If you intend to embed multiple story maps think about being consistent, and using the same story map apps, as in the example above. When authoring story maps to be used as building blocks for other story maps, the design and implementation will likely be different than if they were meant to be used standalone.

Always strive for simplicity when crafting a story map, a simple story is often the most effective. But with careful thought and planning, embedding can add additional meaning, context, and value.

For more information see:

This post was originally published on April 12, 2015, and has been updated.

This entry was posted in ArcGIS Online, Story Maps and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply


  1. cwholmes says:

    Is it possible to embed a story map series accordion within a story map series bullet? If so, would it just be too overwhelming?

    • Bern Szukalski says:

      Is it possible? Yes. Is it too overwhelming? That is for you, the story map author, to decide. But in many cases my personal belief is that less is always more, and a simpler story is best. Personally I would only embed story maps within story maps rarely, and only when the simple case – e.g., a story map swipe or spyglass is used to enhance a story. If you find you are embedding story maps within story maps my first reaction would be – do you really need to to tell your story?

    • amartinez_psfa says:

      Did you do this? If so I would like to know how. I am currently trying to do what you have explained.

      • Bern Szukalski says:

        Yes, I have done that. I never blog about anything that I have not personally done. The steps described in the post are exactly what I used. if there is confusion please let me know where – I can make the adjustments to the post.

  2. hschafer says:

    I used this process to embed a story map swipe and story map spyglass within a Story Map Journal. One thing we noticed is that when we navigated to the section with the swipe/spyglass and then navigated to a different section and came back to the swipe/spyglass section the main stage/web application was not showing (greyed background). When I unchecked the box “Unload when reader navigates away” the user was able to open the section, navigate to different ones, and then come back to that section without having an issue. Is that to be expected?

    Also we had an issue with some users not being able to see the embedded swipe/spyglass application in the journal at all (even at first hit the main stage content was greyed out even though the spyglass and slider showed. If we double clicked on the main stage portion the web app would then show. We think this was because the web application map needed to be zoomed in closer for some users to be able to see it. To fix that I opened the actual web map the swipe/spyglass application was based on and zoomed into a close extent and then saved the web map. Once I did that then our users that were having the issue could see the embedded swipe/spyglass in the journal without any issues. Has anyone run into that issue also?


    • Bern Szukalski says:

      You’ve not provided enough information to comment, if you send the URL to the app we can have a look. In general, when it comes to embedding story maps within story maps, less is often more, simpler is often better.

      If you uncheck Unload, the content for that section remains in memory until the app is dismissed. Zooming should have no affect on access to the apps – clearing your browser cache regularly is a good housekeeping measure.

  3. Jackie says:

    Thanks for the detailed instructions! I’m currently struggling with getting my pop-ups to function after my map is embedded.

    I’m embedding a Story Map Swipe into a Story Map Journal, and have used the process described above. When I load the &embed URL as a new web page, everything functions as it should, but once it’s embedded into the Map Journal, my pop-ups no longer work. Any insight on this?

    • Bern Szukalski says:

      I just tried this again myself, using with and without &embed, and the web map pop-ups in the Story Map Swipe embedded in the Story Map Journal work just fine, with no issues. If you like, send me a link to your Swipe, and I can take a closer look. Email to bszukalski@esri.com

  4. sfagan says:

    I embedded map tours into a map series, and although the map series displays perfectly while I’m logged in, if I’m not logged in (or the public tries to see it) it comes up with the error: “Sorry, Map Tour loading failed” (the header and tabs load fine though). The individual map tours load fine on their own, but the embedded ones don’t. Also, in My Story Maps, the map series lists the links to the map tours with an orange exclamation point that reads: “Webpages are not checked for issues”. However, I don’t see how to check them for issues in case this is why they won’t load in the series. Any idea how to fix this?

    • sfagan says:

      I remade the map series, and it’s now working fine. Wish there was an easier way to identify what the issues are when things go wrong.

      • Bern Szukalski says:

        Sorry you had issues, but glad that rebuilding it solved them. Checking your app in My Stories (from the storymaps.arcgis.com website) is a good way to check for issues, though you need to check for issues separately in any embedded story maps. If they all check out there, then you need to start checking the sources used in the maps.

  5. gahill says:

    The UI minimise is handy but can you disable all map panning, zooming etc… so basically you end up with a non interactive map image? I have embedded various map apps (as an embedded website) within the story map app and these work well but having more control on how the user can interact with the map would be nice.

    • Bern Szukalski says:

      You can configure different tools and capabilities of the web map using the Embed capabilities, and can get rid of all tools and disable scrolling and use the embed code in your story map. However you will still have a live web map that a user can interact with – pan, zoom, etc. If you really want a map the user cannot interact with, capture a screenshot of the map and display it, or make a PDF and display it, etc.

  6. TESchmidt says:

    Thanks for this post. It’s nice to have this capability right out of the box. When embedding a story map swipe application into a story map series I am losing the arrows that appear along the swipe line on the swipe application. Any reason why the arrows are not appearing? They really help when folks unfamiliar with mapping applications see arrows on the slider.

    • Bern Szukalski says:

      Thanks for the feedback. I was able to repro what you describe, it’s the use of &embed that removes the arrows on the vertical slider. I’ve logged this as an issue for the dev team to look at for the next update.

  7. karissamoffett says:


    Maybe someone has an answer to my question, or in the future this can be met with a solution. The Issue: When I embed a cascading story map into my tabbed story map it turns out great…on my desktop. However, when I load it on my iPhone 5 my cascading story map is no longer viewable. I have tried embedding a smaller size but this still does not load. Any ideas is greatly appreciated.


    • Bern Szukalski says:

      I took a closer look at your Story Map Series and the Cascade you embedded in it. The standalone Cascade is nicely responsive in a browser, and adjusts as well as it can to fit any form factor. I also ran a test case where I embedded a Story Map Cascade in a Story Map Series, and it worked just fine responsively. There does seem to be an issue with embedding a Cascade in a Story Map Series in iOS (I’ve not checked any other mobile OS). That’s been logged as an issue (and Cascade is still in Beta).

      All that said, Cascade is designed to be an immersive experience, so it’s not a great choice to embed in another Story Map. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should, or that the results are beneficial or desirable when it comes to telling your story.

      I also noticed that you’ve not used Fill as the Position option for the Cascade within your Series. That would be the best option if you still want to embed a Cascade, noted issues aside. Because you’ve not used Fill the embedded Cascade does not work well in my browser, using Fill it does work well.

      Again, I would not recommend embedding a Cascade in any story map, especially if you’re looking to use it on a small form factor device.

  8. neiden says:

    Can a WebApp Builder app be embedded into a tabbed story map?

  9. kndeccan says:

    Thanks for the instructions! In my Story Map, I have embedded a Swipe inside a Series and was wondering if there was a way to get rid of the text/title of the swipe Story Map so that way I do not have two titles and two gray headings up above?

    • Bern Szukalski says:

      Yes there is. See the top part of this post… Use &embed when adding your Story Map Swipe/Spyglass to any other story map to remove the title, subtitle, etc. Just try it in a browser/tab and you’ll see, or just click the links at the top of this post.

  10. johnsonj says:

    I have a “Compare” web map app embedded in a Story Map Series and it works fine on PC, but I have problems on Android smartphone. The basemap draws, but the feature layers from my REST services are not drawing AND I only see one of the two comparison panes unless I turn the phone to landscape. Could you take a look? It is the fourth panel — “Compare Day vs. Night” in this Story Map Series:


    • Bern Szukalski says:

      I took a quick look and can’t get a map (or app) to appear in Compare Day vs. Night panel. The next panel – Day vs, Night Swipe Comparison works just fine (though I would recommend using &embed to add the Story Map Swipe & Spyglass to get rid of the unneeded header when embedding).

      The embedded app causing the problem is this one:

      There are numerous errors I can see in the Inspector related to mixed http / https content. I am thinking that is what is the crux of the issue. Your main story map seems to be http, but it seems you are loading apps that are https with mixed content (like the one above), which is likely the culprit.

      I finally did see the basemap, once all the requests with errors timed out.

  11. jlsimms86 says:

    I’ve just started creating a Story Map and I’d like to embed a Map Journal into a Map Series. Do you recommend building both Story Maps first as individual stories before embedding? Or can I embed a blank Map Journal into a blank Map Series and build the Story from there?

    Thank you!

    • Bern Szukalski says:

      Frankly I never thought about doing it that way. I would typically get everything my main story needs together – photos, videos, maps, apps – and then do the final assembly. But you can certainly place an “unfinished” story map inside of another, and complete it later. I’ve changed and even replaced story maps I use within others as things evolve. One thing to consider is that when placing an app or story map inside another story map that you will want to minimize the header, and remove other unneeded elements. So I find that I make special apps and story maps specifically to be used when placing insider another.

  12. elizabeth.brown@dc.gov says:

    Hi Ben,
    I’m having trouble embedding a StoryMap Tour within my StoryMap Cascade. I’ve followed the direction by copying and pasting the storymap tour link and adding &embed. I confirm this, but then the area turns orange, indicating that the storymap tour link isn’t compatible with mobile devices. I go back in and upload a photo for the mobile option, but that doesn’t seem to help the story map tour show up. Any ideas?

    Thank you!

    • Bern Szukalski says:

      I just tried this, opening up the Cascade with embedded Map Tour in Safari on my iPhone V. It works (kind of), but it isn’t a great experience because of the constrained real estate. hence the orange warning. Switching out to an image for smaller devices works just fine, and the behavior you see is as expected – you see the image, and not the Story Map Tour when using your device.

      Personally I think that embedding a Map Tour in a Cascade is not a good pattern, so I’d be looking at a different approach to telling your story.

  13. preston.welker says:

    Is there a way to embed a story map into the side panel of a Journal so that I can be used for navigation to different sections? For example, clicking a point on the embedded story map navigates the user to the section of the side panel assigned to that point. Here is an example of what I’m hoping for: