Maps space the major tools by which spatial relationships and geographic data space visualized. Maps thus become crucial documents. There space several vital elements that should be had each time a map is developed in order to help the viewer in knowledge the communications of that map and to file the source of the geographical information used.

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What room the parts of a map?

Numbered listed below are descriptions of cartographic elements that are commonly found ~ above a map layout. Part maps have actually all eight facets while various other maps may only contain a few of them.

1. Data Frame

The data framework is the portion of the map that displays the data layers. This ar is the most crucial and central focus the the map document. In the example displayed at the finish of this article, the data frame contains fire history for the neighborhood of Topanga.

A sample map showing the different elements in a map layout.

2. Legend

The legend serves together the decoder for the symbology in the data frame. Therefore, it is additionally commonly known as the key. Explanation detailing any type of color schemata, symbology or categorization is defined here. In the legend below, the fire history schemata has been categorized v a graduating color scheme. The legend details which colors refer to which years. Without the legend, the color scheme on the map would make no feeling to the viewer. The legend tells the viewer that the lighter the color, the much longer the critical recorded day of fire has been.


3. Title

The location is important since it instantly provides the viewer a succinct summary of the subject issue of the map. The title “Fire history in Topanga, California” quickly tells the viewer the topic matter and also location that the data.

4. North Arrow

The objective of the north arrowhead is for orientation. This allows the viewer to determine the direction the the map together it relates come due north. Many maps tend to be oriented so that due north faces the top of the page. There space exceptions to this and having the north arrow permits the viewer to know which direction the data is oriented. To learn more about once to use a phibìc Arrow, check out “To North arrow or not to phibìc Arrow“.


5. Scale

The scale explains the relationship of the data frame extent to the actual world. The description is a ratio. This deserve to be shown either as a unit come unit or together one measure to an additional measurement. Thus a scale reflecting a 1:10,000 scale method that every one document map unit to represent 10,000 real civilization units. For instance 1:10,000 in inches method that a measure of one customs on the map equals 10,000 inch in genuine life. The second method of portraying scale is a to compare with various unit types. For example, 1″:100′ means that every inch measure ~ above the paper map represents 100 feet in the actual world. This ratio is the exact same as 1:1200 (1 foot = 12 inches). In enhancement to text depiction as defined above, the ratio deserve to be displayed graphically in the form of a range bar. Maps that are not to scale tend have have a “N.T.S” notation which represents “Not come scale.”


6. Citation

The citation part of a map constitutes the metadata of the map. This is the area where explanatory data around the data sources and currency, projection information and also any caveats are placed. In the instance below, the citation speak the source and date of the data. Citations aid the viewer recognize the usage of the map for their own purposes.


Other aspects such as a border (7) and also inset map (8) can be placed on the map come further aid the viewer.

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Watch: components of a map

Article an initial written: January 23, 2000. Critical Updated: September 13, 2011.

For an ext information around the ar of map making visit thecartographic resources pageand review the article, “Ten things to take into consideration When do a Map.”

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