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Geog 353 Lecture Outline: Type on Maps
Update: 10/5/16

We will review chapter 11 (Type on Maps) from the Making Maps book. Additional information and examples can be gleaned from the material below.


The role of typography in cartographic design

Type plays a large role in shaping the look and communicative abilities of a map

Four major issues

1. Functions of Map Lettering

1. Type on maps used for naming and labeling

2. Type on maps used to organize

3. Type on a map used to explain

4. Type on a map used to impart "visual atmosphere"

Project WWW Pages: effective use of type for naming, organizing, explaining, visual atmosphere

Consider typography to be another map symbol: it can be used to represent more than what the word means

The use of typography on a map has two broad facets

2. The Elements of Type

Typeface Characteristics

Type face or font: complete set of all characters of one size and design of a typeface

Type family: variations on a single typeface

Letterform Components:

The serif: finishing strokes added to the end of the main letter strokes

Key concern about type in cartography: the individual letters (and words) should be easily identifiable

Look at some of the ways we can manipulate type to make it work on maps...

3. Typographic Variables and Cartographic Design

Four typographic variables and associated design issues

Typography on maps can be effectively used to differentiate

1. qualitative (nominal) data

2. quantitative (ordinal, interval/ratio) data

1. Type Style and Cartographic Design

The history of type design and type style

Prior to printing presses most letters and words were created by hand

Black Letter or Gothic: 1400s: movable type designed to look like hand lettering

Oldstyle or Oldface: late 1400s to 1700s: designed to help with printing

Transitional: 1700s: bridge between oldstyle and modern type

Modern: late 1700s: modification of transitional

Sans Serif Styles

Type style implies qualitative (nominal) differences


Consider two basic type styles

1. serif type: type with those little thingamabobs (serifs):

2. sans serif type: type without those little thingamabobs (san serif):

Type style is best used to symbolize qualitative information:

Type style may also be used to symbolize the "look and feel" of the map:

Details on design considerations of type style...

2. Type Size and Cartographic Design

The way type size is determined is based on the way type was originally produced

Type size determined by height of the foundry block

Type size variations imply ordered (quantitative) relationships


Details on design considerations of type size...

3. Type Weight and Cartographic Design

The use of light (not always available), regular, and bold type weights implies quantitative (ordinal, interval/ratio) differences


Details on Design considerations of type weight...

4. Type Form and Cartographic Design

Type form can imply qualitative (nominal) and quantitative (ordinal, interval/ratio) differences.


Case: UPPER CASE vs. lower case

Tint: black vs. grey vs. red

Italics vs plain type forms

Spacing: condensed vs. e x t e n d e d

Details on design considerations of type forms...

...on Case

...on Tint

...on Italics vs. Plain (Roman)

...on Spacing

Arcview Demo: Type Style, Size, Weight, Form

4. Explanatory Text and Type Placement on Maps

4a. Explanatory Text

Explanatory text explains the content and purpose of a map:

Explanatory Text on a Map

4b. Type Placement

Effective type placement clarifies the relationship between a label and the symbol (point, line, area) to which it refers.

Labeling Point Features

When labeling point symbols on a map, start at the center of the map and work outward.

Type placement should reflect characteristics of the location being labeled:

B. Labeling Linear Features

When labeling lines, curve or slant the type to follow the symbol

Since there are fewer type descenders than ascenders, place labels for linear symbols above the symbol; fit the descenders into the symbol

Horizontal type is easiest to locate and read. Never place type upside down. If vertical, place first letter of label towards bottom of map

Repeat, rather than space out label along a linear symbol

C. Labeling Areal Features

When labeling areas on maps, curve and space the type to fit the areas to ensure that the area and the label are clearly associated.

Poor and Good Type Placement when Labeling Areas

Overlapping areas can be distinguished by varying type variables such as size, weight, and form.

Linear areas should be labeled like line symbols.


Technological change in typography

Extremely easy to manipulate typography on maps given computer technologies

Ten years ago: type set on typesetter

Bitmapped or screen type (raster)

Scalable or outline (vector) type

Digital Type: Much easier to use the guidelines outlined above

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