• Scott Close

Cartography Tips: Titleblock & Legends


Herein are some general tips regarding the placement and locations of legends and titleblocks in final map layouts. There are few concrete rules to cartography, however, experience has shown that attention toward certain map elements and their respective layouts can encourage a reader to view your map as a book- investigating and learning while they read your map- versus simply glancing and moving on. Or worse, being offended by bad layouts.

Legends and title blocks and other map elements are most appealing to the eye when their containing squares either 1) touch or 2) occupy different corners, and/or 3) together occupy and form one larger map 'element'.

Legends will look odd if they are close to the titleblock but don't touch it (leaving a small strip of map showing between the two --> and will always look strange if not evenly spaced or attached to two edges at a time.

Legends should be have a buffer of white space with black edging surrounding them with approximately the same width and style as the titleblock, or,Sometimes, titleblocks 'float' over the map by themselves, balanced near a corner... when that happens ok for legends to as well, so long as they occupy different corners and don't float near each other.

If a titleblock sits so that it 'overlaps' or 'chews out' a corner (has the white space buffer with black edging), legends can still float over the map so long as, again, they occupy different corners. When this happens, add white buffer to cover any utm coordinates that may be separated by the legend or titleblock from the map.

Maps elements should always be closed, meaning, the colour or information can't 'pour' out of them, because all edges should defined by a crisp, black, thin, line.

....and always remember one of the few concrete rules for map making: make sure your map can convey the same information if printed in black and white! Excessive use of colours can often obscure other, more important map details.

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