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#1
dvrpc

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Does anyone have an opinion about when to call a map a map or a figure? Or a chart a chart or a figure? Does it really matter?

I am responsible for reviewing all maps, figures, tables, charts, etc that end up in a report. I am trying to instill some consistency in our process. I have always thought that if you are creating a visual representation of the earth's surface, you call it a map. But what about schematic diagrams? Or depicting turning movements at an intersection. There seems to be alot of grey areas.

#2
BioGeoMan

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I have always been under the assumption that in reports or publications, whether technical, scientific, or non-technical, there are two types of visual representations; Tables and Figures. Charts, Maps, and Graphs would be considered Figures and Tabular Data would be considered a Table...as far as defining the difference between a figure, map, or chart; there is some definite ambiguity there.

Michael Scisco

BioGeoCreations
Albuquerque, NM

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biogeocreations.com


#3
Esther Mandeno

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I have always been under the assumption that in reports or publications, whether technical, scientific, or non-technical, there are two types of visual representations; Tables and Figures. Charts, Maps, and Graphs would be considered Figures and Tabular Data would be considered a Table...as far as defining the difference between a figure, map, or chart; there is some definite ambiguity there.


I have to agree with BioGeoMan. But that stumped me for a while too. I am providing up to 20 "figures" (maps) per report for 17 fire risk assessments in the State of Nevada. According to our editor, it's as BioGeoMan stated: if it's tabular - then it's a table, otherwise, everything else is pretty much a figure.
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Esther Mandeno
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. - Albert Einstein

#4
François Goulet

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I work for an environmental consultants firm and in our report, we have tables, figures and maps! Well, a map is a map... 95% of the time. A map can be a figure if not all the required elements are on it (North, scale, legend, ...), like when we have to re-illustrate a certain part of the project (already shown on another map) or take out a portion of a map and there's not need to put everything on it again.

We are more often asked to do things like that than doing it because we want it but that's how we call it.

#5
pfyfield

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I work on a lot of government planning documents, or RMPs (Resource Management Plans). We sort of figure it out as we go along, but the rule of thumb is that a map is based on some sort of formal template with all the marginalia- north arrow, scale bar, location map etc. A figure can contain geographic information but is does not conform to the stricter definition of a map.
Paul Fyfield
Cartographer, Bureau of Land Management
Oregon State Office
Portland, Oregon
pfyfield@blm.gov

#6
mike

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It all depends on your house style. so you can define it in which ever way you want.

At ESRI Press, we consider most things as figures - which may include maps, diagrams, drawings, illustrations, photographs, etc. However, sometimes we do stray from our house style and consider maps as maps... especially when a book is very heavy on mapping, but this is only for special cases. We normally stick to our house style to be consistent. We do list tables as they are.

#7
MapMedia

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Some clients like the Figure or Table rule, classic style, while others like to split maps aside esp. if there is a series of maps.
My pref is to use figures and tables only, and use maps only in an appendix (map 1, map 2, etc.).

K.I.S.S. baby!

#8
natcase

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My understanding (and this is from something I read a long time ago) is that the distinction has to do with ancient printing issues: tables could be composed using movable lead type, while figures had to be cut separately (woodcut or later a steel cut), but could still be printed in the same pass as text. A third type of illustration, plates, had to be tipped in or printed in a separate signature. Given modern techniques, the distinctions are pretty irrelevant. I'd call em all figures.

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#9
geo_will

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I will have to disagree with several people here and say that I agree with a previous poster who mentioned that a map is something with a distinguishable north arrow, scale bar and other required elements of a map. I would define a figure as an illustration not drawn to scale and without a north arrow. Autocad drawings I would term as schematics or maps depending on their accuracy level. Bottom line, I feel a map is more connotative with accuracy and precision and a figure is connotative of a drawing or illustration of some sort. :D
Will
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http://gisnode.com

#10
David Medeiros

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I think the figure and table designations sound right to me in terms of separating the rough groups of illustrative and tabular information. If you need to distinguish within the figure group between types of figures I think you may have to make some of that up as you go since what in one context may be see as a map may be more of a graphic or illustration in another.

Of the idea that a true map must contain a north arrow or other marginalia to be considered a map I would disagree. And maybe I'm misinterpreting those responses, but to me a N arrow is not a required element when the geographic extent is familiar enough that most readers will automatically understand where north is.

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

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#11
DaveB

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Of the idea that a true map must contain a north arrow or other marginalia to be considered a map I would disagree. And maybe I'm misinterpreting those responses, but to me a N arrow is not a required element when the geographic extent is familiar enough that most readers will automatically understand where north is.


Or if north isn't in the same direction all over the map (such as a world map in almost anything but a rectangular projection). Scale bars or verbal scales aren't always appropriate either. So saying something is not a map because it doesn't have these elements leads too many people to include them when they would be better off finding other solutions or just leaving them off. :)
Dave Barnes
Esri
Product Engineer
Map Geek

#12
Dennis McClendon

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For Geodweeb Geopardy! this year I planned to have a category where contestants would identify the north arrows used by various commercial and governmental publishers. When I started digging through my European and Asian maps, I discovered that north arrows are actually quite rare on printed maps.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com

#13
François Goulet

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For Geodweeb Geopardy! this year I planned to have a category where contestants would identify the north arrows used by various commercial and governmental publishers. When I started digging through my European and Asian maps, I discovered that north arrows are actually quite rare on printed maps.


I've often been told at school that when the map orientation is north on the top, the north arrow is facultative... That's a nice feature to add, but it's no obligation.

#14
pghardy

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Does anyone have an opinion about when to call a map a map or a figure? Or a chart a chart or a figure? Does it really matter?


It's a perennial problem with nomenclature. There is no right answer. A figure is something graphical, particularly when included in a mainly textual document. Map has a multitude of meanings, but in our industry is a generic term for a visual abstraction of something geographic.

Sub-parts of the industry use more specific terms:
  • a chart is a map designed specifically for navigation (hydrographic chart, aeronautical chart)
  • a plan is a larger scale map, often covering just a few land parcels and buildings (cadastral plan, architects plan)
Of course all these words are overloaded - a chart can also be a visualisation of a numeric value or series (pie chart, bar chart) also!

Then we get onto what is 'the map' as opposed to 'a map', such as the naming of 'things on a map that are not the map'. Imagine we have a 'map' (the tangible large sheet of printed paper) on which is 'the map' (the main visualization of geography), and a set of 'furniture' or 'marginalia' (titles, legends, logos, pie charts, etc), which can also include one or more 'ancilliary maps', such as an 'overview map', 'location map', 'adjacent sheet map', etc.

It would be nice to have a uniform and agreed nomenclature but I fear we are several hundred years too late to enforce it!
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Paul Hardy
ESRI Europe (phardy@esri.com)

#15
MapMedia

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figure, map - they are interchangeable terms for reports, so its a personal or professional choice.

if there are a lot of maps, you can have a section just for maps, but if a report has 1-5 maps, I call them figures just like the graphs and charts.




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