Can I create an inset map, or magnify a portion of my map in Surfer?

Our Grapher software has a really great feature called the graph magnifier, which can magnify a portion of the graph and call it out.  Surfer does not have an equivalent feature, however, you can emulate this behavior by following the steps below.

If you have a complex map and you’d like to expand a portion of it, you can simply duplicate the map, then adjust the limits and scale of the second map to the desired area. This does create a full second map though, so if the files you used to create the map were large, the resulting SRF file will be much larger than it was originally.


For example:

  1. Open the SRF file that contains the map.
  2. In the Contents window, select the Map object and click Home | Clipboard | DuplicateNote: if you have any map scales, color scales, or legends created from any layer in the map, you will get a warning that you can’t save a linked object by itself. In this case, delete the scale bars or legends and then copy the map.
  3. Rename the new map in the Contents window by right clicking over Map and clicking Rename Object. Enter a new name and click OK. This helps to identify it from the original map.
  4. Then, with the inset map object selected, click Map Tools | Map Tools | Set Limits to set the new limits.
  5. Move the yellow handles to select the desired area, or hold CTRL and draw a rectangle over the desired are to make the new selection.
  6. Press ENTER when done.
  7. In the Properties window, click on the Scale tab and set the size for the inset map.
  8. Turn off the tick marks, titles and labels for all four axes for the inset map.
  9. Draw or add a base layer to the original map showing the outline of the inset box.
  10. Use Draw | Polyline to connect the inset box on the map to the inset map. Please see attached SRF file for example.
  11. Recreate any scale bars or legends for the original map that may have existed.

Inset Map

Copy and paste the original map and adjust the limits and scale to create an inset map.


To add your vote to our suggestion file for a map magnifier, please email


Updated October 19, 2018

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