By Karen A. Vagts
[ Glossaries & Definitions ] [ General Sources ] [ Mathematical & Geodesic Aspects ] [ Map Projections ] [ Map Scales ] [ Toponomy ] [ Map Design ] [ Software & Data Sets ] [ Books ] [ Organizations ] [ Inspirations ]
Cartography is the science and art of map making. With the introduction of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and mapping websites, people other than professionally-trained cartographers now can produce maps easily. To ensure that a map is appropriately designed for its intended purpose requires knowledge of cartographic tools and options. The sources provided here offer a basic introduction to the technical and mathematical aspects of map making.
Google. Compendium of Sites for Cartographic Definitions and Glossaries.
Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection. Glossary
of Cartographic Terms.
University of California at Berkeley. Dictionary of Abbreviations and Acronyms in Geography Information Systems, Cartography, and Remote Sensing.
ESRI Mapping Center.
The Geographer’s Craft: Cartographic Communication.
Mapping involves geodesy, the science and mathematics of measuring the earth. Consequently, underlying maps and globes lurks much mathematics, especially geometry and trigonometry – grids and graticules, scales, and conversions. The following sites provide formulas, explanations, and examples.
Dana, Peter H. Coordinate Systems
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Geodesy
Smits, Jan. Mathematical data
for bibliographic descriptions of cartographic materials
and spatial data.
U.S. National Geospatial Intelligence Agency website.
Presenting the earth – a globe – on a two-dimensional surface involves distorting the earth’s surface to a certain degree. Such distortions are called map projections. In selecting a projection, cartographers make trade-offs in the accurate presentation of surface area, distance, scale, and direction. These websites explain the major types of map projections with recommendations for their suitable uses.
Dana, Peter H. Map Projection Overview.
Mathworld Map Projections.
Snyder, John P. Map Projections: A Working Manual (1988).
United States Geological Survey (USGS). Map
Map scales determine the relationship of the distance or area on a cartographic object with the actual size of the earth. The following sites show standard map scales and appropriate uses.
United States Geological Survey (USGS). Map
Scales Fact Sheet.
Map Scales: What are they really….?
Map Scale Calculator.
Place names are essential aspects of most maps but their selection can be complex. Name place authorities and gazetteers are good sources for determining appropriate (and non-controversial) toponyms.
Arizona State University Libraries. Place Name
National Geospatial Data Agency (NGA) GEOnet Names Server (GNS).
U.S. Board on Geographic Names.
A well-designed, functional map displays a tight relationship between appearance and function. All design elements -- overall layout, symbols, typography, and color schemes -- should be selected with a view to how they help map users understand the content. The following sites offer design guidelines as well as some handy tools to facilitate design decision making.
Atlas of Canada. Map Content and Design for the Web.
United States Geological Survey (USGS). Topographic Map Symbols.
Map Symbol Brewer.
Nearly all maps professionally produced today rely on software, typically "intelligent" geographic information systems (GIS) tools, which combine mathematical modeling with tabular data sets, vector graphics, images, and other "layers" of information to generate 2D and 3D maps. As these links show, available tools range from complex, proprietary software to "free" or open source packages. In addition to GIS software, cartographers can access an ever expanding amount of data for every map theme from census information to epidemiological events to transportation networks.
Scaleable Vector Graphics (SVG)Applications.
Wikipedia. List of GIS Software.
ESRI Geography Network.
Global Spatial Data Infrastructure Association (GSDI) Spatial Data Infrastructure Links.
U.S. Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) Data Clearinghouse Nodes.
U.S. First Data National Atlas Map Maker Raw Data Downloads.
UNESCO Index of National Mapping Agencies.
ESRI (Environmental Systems Research Institute,
Inc) Press: books, manuals, and training guides.
Slocum, Terry A. et al. Thematic Cartography and Geographic Visualization.
Professional associations provide information on techniques, resources, and educational opportunities. The list here consists of major English-language organizations.
American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM)
British Cartographic Society (BCS)
Canadian Cartographic Association (CCA)
Cartography Specialty Group, Association of American
International Cartographic Association
North American Cartographic Information Society
Society of Cartographers
Examples of notable and unusual applications of cartography to inspire and delight.
David Ramsey Map Collection.
Library of Congress Map Collections.
Making Maps: DIY Cartography.
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