Tag: Page Layout

Map orientation: When true north is NOT at the top

By Aileen Buckley, Mapping Center Lead

Map Orientation - thumb

We got an excellent comment from a reader this week about maps that are not drawn with true north at the top. Referring to the San Diego Convention Center (SDCC) maps that are included in Esri User Conference agendas and other publications, Stephen wrote:

The map of the San Diego Convention Center is upside down, in my opinion. Flipping it and putting north toward the top would make the map much more intuitive to read and interpret. I always orient myself with north up on the map…

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Making a large-scale 3D map: Part 3

By Kenneth Field, Esri Research Cartographer

Making a Large Scale 3D Map Part 3 thumbnail

1. Introduction

In part 1 and part 2 of this blog entry, you learned about some of the design considerations for creating a large-scale 3D map, prepared your 2D building data in ArcMap, used ArcScene to create 3D representations of your building data, and transferred your data to Google SketchUp to render your models and then brought your models back into ArcScene. In this final part, you will use the models to create a 3D isometric map and add a range of additional symbols to create a rich large-scale 3D landscape for your static map. Continue reading

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Figure-ground: Feathering

By Aileen Buckley, Mapping Center Lead

Feathering - Results 2

In a previous blog entry, I discussed some of the major design principles used in cartography, including figure-ground organization, which is the spontaneous separation of the figure in the foreground from an “amorphous” background. Cartographers use this design principle to help their map readers find the area of the map or page to focus on. One way to promote figure-ground organization is to use a “feathering” effect in which the edges of the map are softened and appear to blend into the background. The way this is done in ArcMap is to use a buffered vignette and the advanced drawing setting for transparency. Note that, as described, this method requires an ArcEditor or ArcInfo level license; however, a user comment to this blog post describes how you can achieve this effect with an ArcView level license as well. Continue reading

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Creating radial flow maps with ArcGIS

By Mamata Akella, Esri Design Cartographer

Flow Map blog thumbnail

Flow maps show the movement of some phenomenon, normally goods or people, from one place to another. Lines are used to symbolize the flow, typically varied in width to represent differences in the quantity of the flow. In broad terms there are three main types of flow map: radial, network and distributive. Radial flow maps have a spoke-like pattern because the features and places are mapped in nodal form with one place being a common origin or destination. Network flow maps are used to show interconnectivity between places and are usually based on transportation or communication linkages. Distributive flow maps typically show the distribution of commodities or some other flow that diffuses from origins to multiple destinations. Continue reading

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Designing the Irish Surnames map

By Ken Field, Esri Research Cartographer

Geogenealogy - thumbnail

Back in 2009, I (and my co-author Dr. Linda Beale) created a map showing the historical and numeric importance of Irish surnames. It won a few awards and featured briefly in a previous Mapping Center blog entry to recognize St. Patrick’s Day in 2010. A paper I wrote about this map has recently been published in the Society of Cartographers Bulletin that details the design philosophy and construction of the map in ArcGIS. Rather than repeating a description of the mapping techniques I used here, the paper itself is available to download from the Publications page of Mapping Center (courtesy of Society of Cartographers). But here is a brief review of the map.

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Graphic design principles for mapping: Figure-ground Organization

By Aileen Buckley, Mapping Center Lead

Figure-ground thumbnail

There are a number of design principles that are very useful to map makers. These can help your map readers to recognize the symbols on your map and understand what they mean — the very basis for map use. One of these is called figure-ground organization. Your mind and eye work together to organize what you see into two contrasting perceptual impressions: the figure on which your eye settles, and the amorphous ground below or behind it. This spontaneous separation of a visual array is one of the things you can promote to add visual hierarchy to the various features on your map and elements on your page. In fact, Dent et al. (1999, p. 215) state:

“There is probably no perceptual tendency more important to cartography design than figure and ground organization.”

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Historical map effects: Torn and creased parchment

By Wes Jones, Esri Design Cartographer


In my last blog entry I wrote about how to achieve a particular waterway look that you might find on a historical map. In this entry, I want to show you how you can make your map look like it has a torn parchment edge.

Inevitably old paper maps become torn… or at least we like to think so. Therefore, having a map look a bit torn is a nice way to imply its agedness. Continue reading

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Using tables in an ArcMap layout

By Aileen Buckley, Mapping Center Lead

Tables thumb

We recently received a request for some help on tables on Ask a Cartographer. We thought we could pass along some of the tips in a blog entry as well, especially as there is currently limited info in our online help about tables (but we are working on changing that!) Here are a dozen elementary but critical “how to’s” for working with tables in a page layout.

1. What are the basic concepts that relate to tables in a layout view?

A table is a display of attribute information in a tabular format. The information displayed in a table comes directly from the attribute information stored with your geographic data. The table contents will update if you make a change to the attribute table. Continue reading

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How do you put a north arrow on a map with the UPS grid coordinate system?

By Aileen Buckley, Mapping Center Lead

UPS North thumb

We received this very interesting question the other day on Ask a Cartographer: “What is common practice for map orientation and the use of north arrows for maps using the UPS projection? Do you keep grid north up and turn the north arrow accordingly, or do you rotate the map so true north is up and so the UPS grid is tilted like with the UTM projection? With UPS the rotation could be very large, up to 180 degrees.”

For those of you not quite familiar with the terms, “grid north” is the positive northing direction of a grid coordinate system used on a map. Continue reading

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Location of Alaska on USA maps

By Andrew Skinner, Esri Design Cartographer

Alaska thumb

At the recent Northwest GIS User Conference, Dorothy Mortenson commented on the location of Alaska on U.S. maps. Dorothy works for the Oregon Water Resources Department and is often tasked with mapping the Pacific Northwest, including Alaska. She made some very good points about why we should try to change the standard practice of placing the state of Alaska in the lower left corner of the page. Continue reading

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