A Simple Guide To Map Reading

A map is also known as a detailed representation of a specific place, location or area. Maps are meant to help people navigate through a place without getting lost. They are the most basic tools of geography and while they may not entirely be as accurate as what people perceive them to be, they do help people in many different ways.

However, when it comes to maps, as useful as they are, their usefulness is limited to the bearer’s ability to read them. So basically, if a person can’t read the map, then what use does it have? Luckily, maps nowadays were made easier to understand. Through the conventions used in cartography, they would allow the map to be easily readable and understandable.

A legend or key allows the bearer to understand what the different symbols found on the map mean. Every good map will have a legend or key. Through this, the map will be easier to understand. For example, if you have a map with a symbol of combinations of lines, those lines would refer to roads. If you see a square with a flag on top that means a school is located in that place. Dashed lines represent a border. However, you should know that the meaning of symbols can vary depending on the location or the country so it is important to refer to the legend first before anything else.

There will also be a north arrow that would help detect the north direction. The north arrow helps the reader detect the orientation of the map. A neatline, on the other hand is defined as the border of the map. Its main purpose is to define the borders of the map and make the map look cleaner or ‘neat.’ You should know that before anything else, every map, no matter what type it is (illustrated maps, climate maps, physical maps) are all inherently inaccurate. However, that doesn’t diminish the usefulness of the map as they are also close to being accurate.

Always refer to the map’s title as it offers important clues about what the map is all about or what the cartographer’s intentions are.

Color is a rather complex aspect of the map. Some maps are designed to be colorful like illustrated maps, which are easier to understand. Note that maps use many different color schemes and these colors may greatly affect how the map is read. That is why it is always important to refer to the legend so that you’d be able to understand the map better.