Exploring Cartographic Design Principles: An Analysis of Maps Published in Geography Journals, 1987-2017

Authors: Thomas Wikle*, Oklahoma State University, Jonathan Comer*, Oklahoma State University, Michael Larson, Oklahoma State University
Topics: Cartography
Keywords: cartography, journals, map design
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/7/2020
Start / End Time: 2:25 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: Centennial Ballroom, Hyatt Regency, Third Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Tools and techniques used in the construction of maps appearing in research journals have changed considerably over the last few decades. Among other factors, advances in computer hardware and software and the introduction of geographic information systems (GISs) have influenced how maps are created and disseminated. At the same time, many undergraduate and graduate programs in geography no longer require formal cartographic training as part of their curricula. Our project explores journal cartography over a thirty year period (1987-2017) by assessing the extent to which research maps conform to basic cartographic design principles. Our sample includes 650 maps selected from ten research journals in geography. Each map was separately evaluated by three researchers using a scoring rubric that examined the size and placement of text, success in establishing visual hierarchies involving map symbols, and the extent to which space was used effectively. Preliminary findings reveal trends in the adherence to cartographic design principles during a period of extraordinary change in tools and methods.

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