ABSTRACT

This chapter provides an introduction of the basic “grammar” of maps— how to put elements together to tell a cartographic story. A good story has a cohesive and understandable structure. A legend or key of some sort is nearly always critical for an effective map. Most of the maps in the gallery that could be considered “thematic maps” have a legend of some kind. The scale becomes an even more critical element if the map is intended for navigation, for which calculating distances to travel could be a key part of the map’s use. A verbal scale uses text to report the distance, such as “one centimeter on the map represents one kilometer” or “one inch to four miles.” Population, health, political boundaries, hazards, the built environment, biological features such as forests, and even climate can change dramatically over the course of decades or years, and so including the date becomes a matter of accurate reporting.