Building Better Balloons

Have you seen some amazing content in Google Earth, but you're not sure where to start? Eye-catching description balloons are essential for the success of your organisation's KMLs. You can jump-start your project with one of the starter templates below.


  • Absolutely no programming skills needed!
  • You will need Google Earth installed on your computer. Download the latest version here. (It's free!)

Select a Template

Below are some basic HTML templates inspired by KML from the "Featured Content" and "Global Awareness" layers.

  1. Click the links to the left of the image to see each example.
  2. When you find a template you like, click Download this template below the image.
  3. In Google Earth, open the KMZ file (compressed KML) that you downloaded.

Download this template

(Inspired by the American Institute of Architects layer)

Download this template

(Inspired by the UNEP: Atlas of Our Changing Environment layer)

Download this template

(Inspired by Jane Goodall's Gombe Chimpanzee Blog layer)


Make a Copy of the Balloon Template

Click each of the two placemarks in your starter KML. The sample placemark contains sample text and images, and the template placemark contains placeholders for you to customise.

Before customising the template, make a copy to work on and maintain the original to use again:

  1. Under Temporary Places in the Places panel, right-click the template placemark.
  2. Select Copy from the context menu.
  3. Right-click My Places in the Places panel.
  4. Select Paste from the context menu.
    A copy of template appears under My Places.

Customise Your Balloon

Add your own text and images to the placemark:

  1. Right-click the new template placemark, and select Properties from the context menu.
    A highlight flashes on the placemark's icon on the map and the Edit Placemark dialogue appears.
  2. In the name field, enter a new name for this placemark.
    The Description tab contains the HTML for the placemark. In the comment section at the top, each placeholder appears (all caps in curly brackets, such as {LOGO_URL}) followed by its description. Don't worry, this comment section won't appear in the actual balloon.
  3. In the HTML section below the comments, find and replace each of the placeholders with your own text or links to images. Be sure to replace the entire placeholder, including the curly brackets.
  4. Move the placemark to the desired location by dragging the highlighted icon on the map or simply edit the Latitude and Longitude fields.
  5. Click OK.

Working with HTML:


Using Templates to Create Content in Google Earth (Video)

This video shows the steps from the previous two sections: Make a Copy of the Balloon Template and Customise Your Balloon.


Create More Custom Placemarks

Since parts of the description will be the same for all your placemarks (like the logo), to create another placemark, simply copy and paste your new custom placemark and repeat the steps above.

Lost Your BalloonStyle?

These KML templates use BalloonStyle to remove the driving direction links (To Here - From Here) from the balloon and to specify the background colour. Unfortunately, you cannot alter the BalloonStyle from within Google Earth. You must edit the KML directly.

If you create a new placemark instead of copying the template, as described above, and then paste in the required HTML, you'll lose the connection to the BalloonStyle. So be sure to use the template, or learn about editing BalloonStyle here.


Have questions about this tutorial? Want to give us some feedback? Visit the Google Earth Outreach Discussion Group to discuss it with others.

What's Next?