Initial Publication Date: April 3, 2010

Week 8: Monitoring Fires

Getting to Know Cartography in GIS

Cartography is the art and science of making maps. It has a long history, dating back thousands of years. Today, we can use modern technology such as geographic information systems to help us produce and analyze maps in ways that enable us to rapidly communicate our ideas with others.

Yet, some of the basic principles of map making and cartographic communication remain the same. Here are three key principles.

An effective map:

  1. Has a clear motive or goal
  2. Is directed toward an audience
  3. Uses appropriate design elements to clearly convey its message

One of the challenges map makers face is how best to symbolize the relationships represented on the map. Choices of the shape, style, and color of symbols as well as classification methods all ultimately affect the usefulness of the map in getting its message across. This week you have the opportunity to become a cartographer, creating a map that tells a story of interest to you and that is applicable to your teaching situation. One of the best ways to improve your map making skills is to look at the color choices used by professional map makers in published atlases.....Happy Mapping!