Asked 1st Oct, 2020 in the project Advancing Education in Mapping and Cartography

How can we make cartographic design theory more relevant?

Maps are seemingly produced in ever-increasing numbers without principles of sound cartographic design. For example, despite the publication of successive cartographic texts and blogs that advise against the use of absolute numbers for choropleth maps, the practice is widespread in mapping cases of COVID-19. How can we ensure that cartographic design theory is implemented more widely?

Most recent answer

13th Oct, 2020
Kleomenis Kalogeropoulos
University of West Attica
I think that each time you have to take a better look of your data. For example, like Cédric Aurelien Nguimdo Matsaguim said about highlighting differences at small scale like in the covid19 pandemic case. Nevertheless, each case of data must be addressed in a way that thematic maps would not lie or hide the truth...unless this is the goal!

All Answers (5)

2nd Oct, 2020
Salah Hamad
University of Omar Al-Mukhtar
Unifed map style
Hi @Kent
I think that is a matter of how well the design used for mapping help the final reader to better differenciate between relatively closed situations at the scale at which the map is presented.
It's particularly true for count data when you have to highlighted differences at small scale like in the covid19 pandemic case
Map designer have to deal with spatial features with different area and statistics, the goal to present the situation at the global scale and the necessity to produce a map for the general public. The latter imply readers with different technical level and aesthetic preferences
Best Regards
5th Oct, 2020
Tom Koch
University of British Columbia - Vancouver
The simple answer is ... you cannot.
An increasing number of maps based on big data--for example many of the COVID-19 maps of global incidence--are not drawn by cartographers but by automated programs attached to the syndromic systems. Similarly, data from US census generates automatic maps of data selected.
There are as well a number of programs these days that transform raw data into maps. The problems are useful but few have the degree of control of programs like Esri's ArcGIS or QGIS.
The real and final answer is that those of us who make maps need to make the best maps we can while critiquing those that seem to fall short of this or that standard. The better the maps we produce, the greater the likelihood those making other maps will seek to emulate our work's standard.
Tom Koch
P.s. To see my work on maps, mapping and data go to
10th Oct, 2020
Michael John Patrick
University of Washington Seattle
Not much to be done. Web mapping applications like Google Maps / Bing, along with the huge number of business applications which offer already pre-defined templates dwarf any attempt to educate. With perhaps one exception, the D3 JavaScript library. But really even geographers map things which really would be better expressed as a chart of graph.

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