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Displaying the what3words grid on a Mapbox Map


The what3words API supports the ability to obtain a section of the 3m x 3m what3words grid in GeoJSON format, making it very simple to display on a map.

This tutorial will show you how to integrate the what3words grid with Mapbox. We also have tutorials demonstrating its use with both Google Maps and Leaflet.

You will also need to sign up for a Mapbox developer account and be able to view other Mapbox tutorials at



To load the JavaScript wrapper for the what3words API, use a script tag like the one in the following example. Replace YOUR-API-KEY with your what3words API key to get started.

Note: We prefer to use a fixed version for the Production version of your integrations. A specific version can also be specified within the script to ensure a predictable version of the component is loaded, for example@4.2.1. A log of versions can be found here.

<script src=""></script>

The URL contained in the script tag is the location of a JavaScript file that loads everything you need for using the JavaScript wrapper for the what3words API.

The key parameter contains your application’s API key.

You will also need to load the Mapbox API, for example:

<script src=""></script>

Map style

Within the head tag, we need to set style properties for the Mapbox Map. In this example, we’ll set the map to display full screen.

<link href="" rel="stylesheet" />
  #map {
    height: 100%;

  html, body {
    height: 100%;
    margin: 0;
    padding: 0;

Map initialisation

Within the body tag, we need to create a new div element to contain the map component, as well as initialise it using the Mapbox JavaScript API.

<div id="map"></div>
  // Create the MapBox
  mapboxgl.accessToken = YOUR_MAPBOX_ACCESS_TOKEN;
  let map = new mapboxgl.Map({
    container: "map", // container id
    style: "mapbox://styles/mapbox/streets-v9", // stylesheet location
    center: [-0.195499, 51.52086], // starting position [lng, lat]
    zoom: 18 // starting zoom
  map.addControl(new mapboxgl.NavigationControl());

Grid overlay

The what3words grid can be displayed as a Mapbox layer by creating a GeoJSON data source, and attaching it to a new layer.

Because only a segment of grid section can be requested, we need to obtain a new grid section each time the map is panned or zoomed.

  function drawGrid() {
    const zoom = map.getZoom();
    const loadFeatures = zoom > 17;

    if (loadFeatures) { // Zoom level is high enough
      var ne = map.getBounds().getNorthEast();
      var sw = map.getBounds().getSouthWest();

      // Call the what3words Grid API to obtain the grid squares within the current visble bounding box
          southwest: {
            lat:, lng: sw.lng
          northeast: {
            lat:, lng: ne.lng
        }).then(function(data) {
          // Get the grid source from the map (it won't exist initally)
          var grid = map.getSource('grid');

          if (typeof grid === 'undefined') {
            // Create a source of type 'geojson' which loads the GeoJSON returned from the what3words API
            map.addSource('grid', {
              type: 'geojson',
              data: data

            // Create a new layer, which loads data from the newly created data source
              id: 'grid_layer',
              type: "line",
              source: 'grid',
              layout: {
                "line-join": "round",
                "line-cap": "round"
              paint: {
                "line-color": '#777',
                "line-width": .5
          } else {
            // The source and map layer already exist, so just update the source data to be the new
            // GeoJSON returned from the what3words API

    // If we have reached the required zoom level, set the 'grid_layer' to be visible
    var grid_layer = map.getLayer('grid_layer');
    if (typeof grid_layer !== 'undefined') {
      map.setLayoutProperty('grid_layer', 'visibility', loadFeatures ? 'visible' : 'none');

  // When the map is either loaded or moved, check to see if the grid should be draw
  // if the appropriate zoom level has been met, and if so draw it on.
    .on('load', drawGrid)
    .on('move', drawGrid);
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