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Introduction to Cartography GEOG 2016 E. Lecture-5 Map Compilation Techniques. Map Design Element. The process of designing a map essentially consists of: Choosing elements to be included on the map Choosing the shapes and colors of the elements Arrangement of the elements. TALDOGS.

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Introduction to cartography geog 2016 e

Introduction to CartographyGEOG 2016 E


Map Compilation Techniques

Map design element
Map Design Element

  • The process of designing a map essentially consists of:

    • Choosing elements to be included on the map

    • Choosing the shapes and colors of the elements

    • Arrangement of the elements


  • It’s a great way to remember what to include in a map

    • T : Title

    • A : Author

    • L : Legend

    • D : Date

    • O : Orientation

    • G : Grid

    • S : Scale

Map title
Map Title

  • Title depends on the type of map.

  • On a road map, it is generally the name of the county or area.

    • Example: Sudbury

  • On a thematic map, such as house values, it should include the name of the area and the main subject of the map.

    • Example: Lively

      2011 Commercial Land Values


  • The name of the person or the organization who made the map should appear as Author on the map.

  • If the data has been obtained from a different source, it should be stated with Author.

  • Examples:

    • Prepared by:

      City of Greater Sudbury

      --- phone, email ---

    • Prepared by:

      City of Greater Sudbury

      --- phone, email ---

      Data compiled by the Ministry of Natural Resources


  • Legend explains the symbols used on the map.

  • It should be clear and easily readable.

  • If possible, symbols should be the same size as they are on the map.

    • This is not always practical

Introduction to cartography geog 2016 e

  • Every map must contain the date when it was created or the date of original data acquisition.

  • It is also a good idea to include both dates.

  • Example:

    Printed: November 01, 2011

    Digital Orthophotography flown on June 1, 2009


  • In general, maps are oriented such that the north points upward and south downward.

  • For localized maps, such as those of shopping malls, the maps are oriented around the main point of entry.

  • It is very important to include an arrow showing the north direction. All other directions can be deduced from that.


  • Scale is a ratio relating a unit of measure on a map to some number on the same units of measure on the earth’s surface.

  • The larger the number, the smaller the scale.


  • Even though it is not a general practice, but it definitely is a good idea to add a disclaimer to the map.

  • Example:

    • The Data is provided “as is” without warranty or any representation of accuracy, timeliness or completeness. The burden for determining accuracy, completeness, timeliness , merchantability and fitness for or the appropriateness for use rests solely on the requester. Harrison County makes nor warranties, express or implied, as to the use of the Data. There are no implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. The requester acknowledges and accepts the limitations of the Data, including the fact that the Data is dynamic and is in a constant state of maintenance, correction and update.

Principles of map design
Principles of Map Design

  • Concept

    • One must have a clear idea of the requirements before compilation is started

  • Harmony

    • Harmony is of utmost importance in map compilation. The important features in a map should also look important.

  • Simplicity

    • Complicating the map does not serve any purpose. Keeping it simple by taking out all unnecessary features and details is the key to a great map design.

  • Information

    • The map must contain all the required information.

Simplified or detailed
Simplified or Detailed?

  • The choice depends on the scale.

Design considerations
Design Considerations

  • Use the natural shape of the region you wish to show on the map.

  • Organize the visual field of the map into

    • Figures: important objects

    • Grounds: less important objects

  • Then use contrast to distinguish important from less important parts.


  • Contrast can be created in different ways.

  • Lines

    • Type (solid, dashed,….)

    • Weight (thickness)

    • Color

  • Texture or pattern for areas

  • Color

  • Size of symbols and text

Text contrast
Text Contrast

  • Masking texts and symbols can be used to give importance and clarity.


  • The shading for water along the coastline provides nice contrast to the land.

  • Also, the text label for water is in italics.


  • Hierarchy means giving relative importance to features.

  • Hierarchy can be created by shading, color and text masking.

  • It should be done in such a way that the most important feature becomes most prominent.

Map symbols
Map Symbols

  • Take time to research commonly-used symbols and conventions.

  • Use line weights and colors to make your symbols stand out.

Color balance
Color Balance

  • Use color balance so that dominant colors occupying large areas do not overpower the remainder of the map.

  • Since areas are fixed in geography, only choice of color is possible when planning balance.

  • Remember – what is pleasant to one map reader may not be pleasant to another.

Text style
Text Style

  • When considering text styles, keep the following points in mind:

    • Legibility of individual letters (don’t want to confuse c and e or i and j).

    • Avoid extremely bold forms.

    • Don’t use decorative typefaces – too difficult to read.

Point label placement
Point Label Placement

  • Chart at the right shows the preferred order of text placement around a point.

  • Text should be horizontal if possible.

  • Town names should be located on the side of the river on which the town is located.

Linear feature label placement
Linear Feature Label Placement

  • Linear features: rivers, streams, roads, railroads, paths, airlines, etc.

  • Repeat as often as necessary to facilitate its identification.

  • Ideal location is along a horizontal stretch.

  • Prefer italicized labels for hydrology features.

Label placement
Label Placement

  • Ideally, put the label entirely inside the polygon feature.

  • Don’t hyphenate names.

  • If lettering is not horizontal, make sure it deviates significantly, so that its placement won’t look like a mistake.

  • Never position text so that parts are upside down.

Title and legend text
Title and Legend Text

  • Titles are generally most important – largest type size.

  • May position title or title boxes overlapping other features.

  • Legend materials medium – reflect their position in the hierarchy.

  • Map sources, notes, etc. in the smallest type size.