9.1 Introduction

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 is not truly appreciated as the final mapping product may not adequately communicate this information to the consumer. In addition, maps, like statistics, can 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 assist in avoiding the potential misrepresentation of spatial information and 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 transforming accumulated bits of GIS data into attractive, useful maps for print and display. This discussion explicitly addresses the intricacies of practical color usage (Section 9.1 “Color”), symbol selection (Section 9.2 “Symbology”), and map layout and design (Section 9.3 “Cartographic Design”).

Learning Objectives

  • Describe the properties of color and how best to utilize them in your cartographic projects.
  • Explain how best to utilize point, line, and polygon symbols to assist in interpreting your map and its features.
  • Familiarize yourself with the properties of cartographic principles that contribute to effective map design.

GTCM Alignment

Chapter Sections

  • 9.1 Introduction
  • 9.2 Color Theory
  • 9.3 Symbology
  • 9.4 Cartographic Design
  • 9.5 References


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