ABSTRACT

Legibility is exactly what it sounds like; the features on the map, particularly the important features, should be readable and easy to understand. Legibility traditionally refers to elements with text; if the text has too little contrast or is too small to read, there is little point in including it on the map. In mapping, legibility can also refer to any of the map elements, including the map symbols and the map itself. Visual contrast refers to how the map features, elements, and symbols contrast with their backgrounds, other elements, and the layout in general. Figure-ground is a notion that the figure, or foreground, is visually separated from the background. Cartographers can manipulate the visual hierarchy not only to attract attention to the key layout elements but also to keep other elements on the same “visual plane” so as not to draw attention to any single one among a class of features.