Lesson 2: Communication and Design

Nicolas MalloyAuthor: Nicolas R. Malloy 


2.1 Overview


Today everyone can be a mapmaker. However, not every mapmaker is a cartographer. Cartography is the art and science of making maps to communicate geospatial information effectively. The difference between a lay mapmaker and a cartographer comes from an understanding of geospatial data, cartographic conventions, and in recognizing that a map’s basic role is to communicate information visually.

Lesson 2 presents the fundamental principles for cartographic design and communication. Maps are a medium for communication with a unique set of methods and techniques. Understanding how maps communicate will allow you to view maps in a new light and with a critical eye. This begins by learning the basic map elements and the visual variables of graphic communication.

 Learning Outcomes


  • Explain how maps are a medium for communication
  • List basic guidelines for cartographic design and communication
  • Describe three primary types of maps
  • Demonstrate correct use of map elements
  • Discuss techniques for establishing visual hierarchy and visual balance
  • Identify the visual variables for graphic communication
  • Express a basic understanding of typography
  • Illustrate the visualization techniques for classification
  • Critique the communication and design aspects of a published map

 Navigating Lesson 2 Page Sections


The table of contents menu on the right outlines individual pages for this lesson. While reading, you may also navigate through pages using the numbered pagination links at the bottom of each page.