Category: Mapping

Cartographic design: Inset maps

By Aileen Buckley, Mapping Center Lead

Recently we were asked if there are any cartographic standards for inset maps. Here are a few guidelines:

Purpose

First, consider why the inset map is needed. Inset maps are sometimes used to show related themes of data at smaller scales, for example: Continue reading

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Map viewing altitude

By Dr. A Jon Kimerling, Professor Emeritus, Oregon State University

Have you ever wondered how you can figure out how far the viewing distance is from the center point of any map?  For example, in my office I have a large map of the world on my wall. It has a scale of 1:9,000,000.  How can you tell the viewing altitude for the map?  This is a very good question that I was asked recently.

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A quick, clean method for insetting polygon outlines

By Charlie Frye, Esri Chief Cartographer

Example of inset boundary lines

Quite some time ago we posted a blog entry on creating tint bands, which are bands of color either interior or exterior to polygons along their borders.  You will see this cartographic effect on world atlases, for example, using different colors to distinguish the various counties. The solution we presented was involved and complex, but it did preserve essential characteristics of the polygons better than any other method we tried. Continue reading

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Esri Press presents Designed Maps: A sourcebook for GIS users by Cynthia Brewer

By Michael Law, Esri Product Engineer

Link to Esri Press webpage for Design Maps

Cynthia Brewer’s new book titled Designed Maps: A Sourcebook for GIS Users is a companion piece designed to compliment the highly successful Designing Better Maps: A Guide for GIS Users published by Esri Press in 2005. The goal of the book is to offer a graphics-intensive presentation of published maps, providing cartographic details that will prompt GIS users to think about their own maps and how to improve them. Continue reading

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Integrating markers and dashes on cartographic representation line symbols

By Charlie Frye, Esri Chief Cartographer

Example of a thrust fault line symbol where the teeth are aligned to the dashes of the line

Using cartographic representations to make line symbols like those in the image to the right, where markers are displayed in conjunction with a dash pattern, requires more than just casual knowledge of the geometric effects. In fact, to make a line symbol like the one shown to the right, the default settings won’t work. Continue reading

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Customizing multi-layer symbols

By Charlie Frye, Esri Chief Cartographer

Example of a multi-layer line symbol

One issue we hear about from the folks who teach cartography with ArcGIS is that users who are new to ArcGIS have some frustration in learning how to make minor customizations to symbols in the style files that come with ArcGIS.  For example, removing a layer from a multi-layer symbol, changing the color of part of a multi-layer symbol, or other minor edits that (in theory) ought to be easy to figure out how to do. Continue reading

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Creating picture lines for graphically pleasing arrangements of picture markers

By Charlie Frye, Esri Chief Cartographer

Excerpt from Thomas Hyde Page's map of Boston in 1775/1776, it was published in London in 1777

For the past few years, when time allowed, I’ve been reconstructing a map of colonial Boston in ArcGIS, using source maps from 1775 to 1784.  The image on the left is an excerpt of one of these maps.  I like a number of the effects that 18th century cartographers had drawn on their maps, including little pictographs for trees (today cartographers call these mimetic symbols).  Anyway, I wanted to add some of these effects to my map.  This posting explains how I showed trees on my map. Continue reading

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Tip for creating annotation for complex maps

By Charlie Frye, Esri Chief Cartographer

Right-click menu for a data frame showing convert labels to annotation

Complex maps such as topographic maps present several significant challenges for setting up labeling rules and creating annotation.  The first challenge is that these maps typically have many layers and types of features, requiring map authors to create and manage numerous label classes. Second, these layers may have a high density of features, which means that automated labeling for these maps requires loading all the data into the labeling engine and making your computer to work fairly hard. Third, some labels on the map are very important and should be placed optimally (e.g., labels for cities or very important landmarks); some labels can be placed with some flexibility (e.g., placing river or stream names along lines; there are many candidate positions along a given line); and some labels are just less important (e.g., labels for contours, which must yield to the other information on the map). Continue reading

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The new face of “Ask a Cartographer”

By Charlie Frye, Esri Chief Cartographer

Something we didn’t exactly predict when we originally designed Mapping Center was how useful you would find the Ask a Cartographer page. It wasn’t long before we realized that, in response to your questions, we were answering with lots of tips and tricks, ideas for workflows, and a some FAQs that we thought would be helpful to share. Continue reading

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Set legend colors to match feature layer transparency

By Aileen Buckley, Mapping Center Lead

Transparent layer over aerial photo

This question comes in fairly regularly at Ask A Cartographer, so I felt it was time to add a brief blog to use for future queries.  This issue is a common one, and is the topic of a Knowledge Base article that describes the basic steps needed to solve the problem.  The value added here is a bit more discussion as to why this is a necessary workflow. Continue reading

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