GIS eBook: GIS Cartography: A Guide to Effective Map Design

Many of us enter the GIS profession without so much as one hour of design instruction in our formal educations. This book seeks to fill that void by providing a reference that can be thumbed through time and again as you create your maps. Included are plenty of illustrations and novel concepts to kick-start your pursuit of mapping excellence. 

The writer said that she had no cartography training when she got started in the GIS field and felt completely thrown into the deep end with no life preserver to help me out. There were very few books on the subject, and those were either outdated or too deep in theory for someone who wanted real‑life examples and lots of pictures. Without a guide, the maps she made were probably mediocre at best. At that time it wasn’t as much of a professional faux pas for me, as a GIS analyst, to be so uninformed about formal mapmaking technique. 

People were usually impressed with the mere fact that a regular analyst could trot out a map at all, and they had next to no preconceived ideas as to how the map should look (except the ever‑present and often misplaced concern about color that everyone seemed to have an opinion on). But even without outside pressure to make the maps look better, we still knew something wasn’t quite right — the maps we made were not doing their best to communicate. 

Today, there is a lot more pressure on us. We are expected to be able to create effective maps at the outsets of our careers, probably due to everyone’s growing comfort with map‑at‑your‑fingertips technology like Google Earth, Microsoft Virtual Earth, MapQuest, Yahoo! Maps, and so on. The field of GIS has matured to a point where it is not only being used more and more but is also challenged more and more. An influx of new GISers in recent years has provided our profession with a lot of able minds that are spurring us to new heights in all realms, including cartographic excellence. The bar has been raised.

This book’s purpose is to help you meet and surpass the new standards. In previous  years, people with an interest in furthering their cartography skills could try to build them through years of slogging through books that were outdated, not in‑depth enough, or that focused on an entirely different software platform from the one they were using. Then, over more years, they could apply these concepts gathered from disparate sources to their work and eventually achieve a certain level  of competence. And that’s only for the GISers who tried. Think about those who couldn’t have cared less about their map designs and how they communicated their analytical results. 

Within this book, though, you will find a great amount of information on not only the tried‑and‑true traditional techniques, but also on the latest design skills that can really enhance your map products. You will learn that it is up to you to decide whether a particular accepted standard is right for your map or whether you should try a unique approach. You will learn how to cultivate your inner creative genius so that you are able to innovate. And where you need additional detail, inspiration, and instruction, there are some helpful references through which you can further your study.

Author: Gretchen N. Peterson.  Publisher: 2009.
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