Maps are the major tools by which spatial relationships and also geographic information are visualized. Maps therefore come to be essential documents. Tright here are numerous vital facets that need to be included each time a map is created in order to assist the viewer in knowledge the interactions of that map and also to record the source of the geographical information offered.

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What are the parts of a map?

Numbered below are descriptions of cartographic aspects that are generally found on a map layout. Some maps have actually all eight facets while other maps might only contain a few of them.

1. Documents Frame

The information framework is the portion of the map that displays the data layers. This area is the most crucial and also central emphasis of the map document. In the example displayed at the end of this write-up, the data framework consists of fire history for the community of Topanga.

A sample map showing the various facets in a map layout.

2. Legend

The legfinish serves as the decoder for the symbology in the data structure. As such, it is additionally frequently well-known as the essential. Descriptions detailing any color schemata, symbology or categorization is explained here. In the legend below, the fire background schemata has been categorized through a graduating shade plan. The legend details which colors refer to which years. Without the legend, the color plan on the map would certainly make no sense to the viewer. The legfinish tells the viewer that the lighter the color, the longer the last recorded date of fire has been.


3. Title

The title is crucial because it instantly offers the viewer a succinct summary of the subject issue of the map. The title “Fire History in Topanga, California” conveniently tells the viewer the topic matter and location of the data.

4. North Arrow

The function of the north arrow is for orientation. This allows the viewer to identify the direction of the map as it relates to due north. Most maps tfinish to be oriented so that due north encounters the top of the web page. There are exceptions to this and having actually the north arrow permits the viewer to understand which direction the information is oriented. To learn more around when to usage a North Arrow, review “To North Arrow or Not to North Arrow“.


5. Scale

The range explains the connection of the data framework extent to the real civilization. The summary is a ratio. This deserve to be shown either as a unit to unit or as one measurement to an additional measurement. Because of this a range reflecting a 1:10,000 range implies that eextremely one paper map unit represents 10,000 real people systems. For example 1:10,000 in inches suggests that a measurement of one inch on the map amounts to 10,000 inches in real life. The second method of showing range is a comparichild via various unit types. For instance, 1″:100′ suggests that every inch measure on the paper map represents 100 feet in the real people. This ratio is the same as 1:1200 (1 foot = 12 inches). In addition to text depiction as explained over, the proportion can be displayed graphically in the develop of a scale bar. Maps that are not to scale tend have actually have actually a “N.T.S” notation which represents “Not to range.”


6. Citation

The citation portion of a map constitutes the metadata of the map. This is the location wright here explanatory information around the information resources and currency, projection indevelopment and any kind of caveats are inserted. In the example listed below, the citation tells the source and also date of the data. Citations assist the viewer recognize the use of the map for their own objectives.


Other aspects such as a border (7) and incollection map (8) can be put on the map to further help the viewer.

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Watch: Parts of a map

Article first written: January 23, 2000. Last Updated: September 13, 2011.

For even more indevelopment about the area of map making visit thecartographic resources pageand also review the article, “Ten Things to Consider When Making a Map.”

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Tags Cartography, information frame, legend, map facets, map scale, metadata, north arrow, scalebar Enter your email to get the weekly GIS Lounge newsletter: