Maps are the major tools through which spatial relationships and geographic data space visualized. Maps as such become important documents. There room several an essential elements that must be consisted of each time a map is created in stimulate to aid the viewer in understanding the communications of the map and to document the source of the geographic information used.

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What are the parts of a map?

Numbered listed below are explanation of cartographic elements that are commonly found ~ above a map layout. Some maps have actually all eight facets while other maps may only contain a couple of of them.


1. Data Frame

The data structure is the part of the map that displays the data layers. This ar is the most vital and main focus of the map document. In the example displayed at the finish of this article, the data frame consists of fire history for the neighborhood of Topanga.


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A sample map showing the different facets in a map layout.

2. Legend

The legend serves as the decoder because that the symbology in the data frame. Therefore, it is additionally commonly recognized as the key. Explanation detailing any kind of color schemata, symbology or categorization is described here. In the legend below, the fire background schemata has been categorized v a graduating color scheme. The legend details i m sorry colors describe which years. There is no the legend, the color scheme ~ above the map would certainly make no feeling to the viewer. The legend tells the viewer that the lighter the color, the longer the last recorded date of fire has been.


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3. Title

The location is important because it instantly gives the viewer a succinct description of the subject matter of the map. The title “Fire history in Topanga, California” easily tells the viewer the topic matter and location of the data.

4. Phibìc Arrow

The objective of the north arrow is for orientation. This permits the viewer to recognize the direction that the map as it relates to due north. Many maps tend to be oriented so the due north deals with the top of the page. There are exceptions to this and having the north arrow permits the viewer to know which direction the data is oriented. Come learn an ext about once to use a north Arrow, read “To North arrowhead or not to phibìc Arrow“.


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5. Scale

The scale describes the partnership of the data frame degree to the genuine world. The description is a ratio. This can be shown either as a unit to unit or as one measure to an additional measurement. As such a scale reflecting a 1:10,000 scale way that every one document map unit to represent 10,000 real people units. For example 1:10,000 in inches way that a measurement of one inch on the map equals 10,000 inch in actual life. The second technique of portraying scale is a to compare with different unit types. Because that example, 1″:100′ method that every inch measure on the document map represents 100 feet in the genuine world. This ratio is the exact same as 1:1200 (1 foot = 12 inches). In addition to text depiction as explained above, the ratio can be shown graphically in the form of a scale bar. Maps that space not to scale tend have have a “N.T.S” notation which means “Not to scale.”


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6. Citation

The citation section of a map constitutes the metadata that the map. This is the area where explanatory data around the data sources and also currency, forecast information and any caveats are placed. In the instance below, the citation tells the source and day of the data. Citations assist the viewer identify the usage of the map because that their own purposes.


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Other facets such together a border (7) and also inset map (8) deserve to be put on the map to further aid the viewer.

See more: What Is The Difference Between Internal And External Fertilization


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Article very first written: January 23, 2000. Critical Updated: September 13, 2011.

For an ext information around the ar of map do visit thecartographic resources pageand review the article, “Ten things to consider When do a Map.”

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