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New Jersey Railroads

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Here is the first cut. Show no pity.

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Hello Geee,

I'll just start with the basics. I'm glad that you put the title for your map in the thread or else I wouldn't know what I am looking at. Bound Brook to CP NK doesn't tell me a thing. Even after spending some time examining the map I still have no idea what CP NK is.

The entire map could use a better labeling strategy.

Why are the river on there? They are poorly executed, broken, and hinder the label reading.

The legend could be on of the worst I have seen in a long time. An offensive, alarming, fully-saturated red with an off centered title that reads 'Legend'. The scale bar is way out of scale. I'm not sure what the cyan dots are, as they are not on the legend.

Hope this helps to point you in a better direction.

"Ah, to see the world with the eyes of the gods is geography--to know cities and tribes, mountains and rivers, earth and sea, this is our gift."
Strabo 22AD




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The first feature that drew to my eyes was the legend, which isn't a good thing.
I agree that the bright red surrounding the Legend is offputting and distracting.

One of the more important questions to ask: what's the purpose of the map ? Who do you expect to view it ? This can really determine what features are to be mapped and how much do you want them to be emphasized.

For example: Are some of the stops more important or noteworthy than others ? If so, then you'd want to increase the font size of those cities.

Also important is that the title doesn't let me know what the map is about. the Even if your map is only geared towards experts or train buffs, you still would want a clear title.

Lastly the cyan, light blue dots are not explained in the legend.




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Hi Geeee,

I agree with some of kru's comments, although I am no cartography expert. I think you should reconsider the design of your map. For example, if the subject of your map is a certain RR line, then that subject line needs to be differentiated from all the rest, either by using a thicker line weight, or a different color. I'd perhaps show all RR lines in gray, except the subject line. Or, show all of them in a dark color and thinner line weight except the subject line.

Who is your intended map audience? I agree that the title needs more explanation. The place names mentioned in your map title might be emphasized using larger labels.

I'm not certain whether you should leave the streams on, or remove them, but I feel they could perhaps be thinner. I sort of like them; they add to an understanding of the topography, along with the hypsometry. However, the streams appear to be shown in multiple colors and multiple line weights, and should be consistent. I like that hypsometry. If you're not using hillshade, you should. Be careful, though, with the creamy yellow tinting. Studies have shown that if a graphic contains a lot of yellow, viewers are apt to look away more quickly than if other colors are used. I'm not saying yellow is evil; it's just something to consider. Definitely label the large waterway on the right side of the map, using conventional waterway labeling.

As for the rest of your labels, you'll want to make sure they are all legible and don't overlap any symbology. I see an italic folt used for some, while standard text is used for others. You should make it clear that the different type is intended to differentiate separate types of features. Enlarge the labels that pertain to your subject railroad lines. That subject railroad line is more important than the others in this map, and its features should stand out. So, while I think your different colored labeling of the RR lines works, it may not be appropriate in this map, since that type of labeling puts equal emphasis on each rail line. As is, your labeling of the rail lines would work well in a map titled "Rail Lines of XXX County" or something similar.

I think you should also consider adding an inset map showing the state or county that the main map is in. This would serve well to orient the viewer tp the general location of the subject map.

Take kru's advice and scale down your scale bar, and also your north arrow. On with the editing! Cheers,
raena demaris

Dennis McClendon

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This is an instance where I have to wonder if GIS is the right tool for the job. It seems like the software's insistence on precision is coming at the cost of readability, and a more traditional trackage diagram with significant displacement and generalization would have served you better. In many instances the symbols are piling up on top of each other when it's probably quite important to show a signal or interlocking adjacent to a station. The software is giving you a qualitative display of the different lines with all different colors when what you probably want is three more ordered categories: client's line, other routes, and industrial leads/sidings. Branches seem to have their own colors but sit strangely on a level above the main line. There are places with casings (Garwood Ind.) or overlap (Raritan Valley south of Dunellen) where it's not clear what's being symbolized. Trackage rights? Shared trackage? Side-by-side lines? There are other places such as the NEC where flyovers and grade separations would seem important things to show. The italics are too subtle a way to distinguish control point names from station names; perhaps precede all CPs with "CP."
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics

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