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Chapter 9: Cartographic Principles

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    From projections to data management to spatial analysis, we have up to now focused on the more technical points of a geographic information system (GIS). This chapter is concerned less with the computational options available to the GIS user and more with the artistic options. In essence, this chapter shifts the focus away from GIS tools and toward cartographic tools, although the two are becoming more and more inextricably bound. Unfortunately, many GIS users are never exposed to the field of cartography. In these cases, the hard work of creating, maintaining, aligning, and analyzing complex spatial datasets are not truly appreciated as the final mapping product may not adequately communicate this information to the consumer. In addition, maps, like statistics, can be used to distort information, as illustrated by Mark Monmonier’s (1996) book titled How to Lie with Maps. Indeed, a strong working knowledge of cartographic rules will not only assist in the avoidance of potential misrepresentation of spatial information but also enhance one’s ability to identify these indiscretions in other cartographers’ creations. The cartographic principles discussed herein are laid out to guide GIS users through the process of transforming accumulated bits of GIS data into attractive, useful maps for print and display. This discussion specifically addresses the intricacies of effective color usage, symbol selection, and map layout and design).

    • 9.1: Color
    • 9.2: Symbology
    • 9.3: Cartographic Design
      In addition to effective use of colors and symbols, a map that is well designed will greatly enhance its ability to relate pertinent spatial information to the viewer. Judicious use of map elements, typography/labels, and design principles will result in maps that minimize confusion and maximize interpretability. Furthermore, the use of these components must be guided by a keen understanding of the map’s purpose, intended audience, topic, scale, and production/reproduction method.

    This page titled Chapter 9: Cartographic Principles is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Anonymous via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.