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Study Area Reference Map

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#1
AaronP

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I could use some advice on the attached reference map. The target location for this map is a journal such as Forest Ecology and Management or Remote Sensing. Its main purpose is to show the scope and range of study area locations.

It appears that most reference maps do not include typical components of a cartographically correct map (e.g. title, projection, source, author/s). Is this lack of information standard practice when including reference maps for scientific publications, or just sloppy map design? Thanks in advance for any comments on how to improve this map.

Attached File  OverviewMapBasic3.pdf   883.06KB   189 downloads

#2
loximuthal

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What elements go on a map are more a function of what elements are needed by the map rather than a simple check-list. On a map embedded in a larger publication, such as a scientific paper, some things normally needed for a stand-alone map are not needed. If the author of the paper is also the author of the map, then you could reasonably leave that off the map. Presumably the source of your map data is yourself, as you ran the study.

I would suggest that you could even strip down your map a bit more. Your audience should be sufficiently familiar with the US that they would not need the locator inset (which should only highlight the actual map if you do include it), nor the scalebar and north arrow. If your paper discusses the distance between sites then the scalebar becomes more relevant.

One other thing you may want to check is how the map looks when printed at the likely final size. The label size may be a bit small if printed less than letter size.

Otherwise I like the clean, spare design. Very clear and direct.
Andy McIntire
US Census Bureau

#3
Dennis McClendon

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For something like this, no need for projection info. Title/source/author can all be handled in a caption rather than in the map itself, though if this is to occupy a page by itself I would probably integrate those into the map.

My big objection is to having a line bounding the grouse areas. This implies a false precision to natural ranges. It suggests that no sage grouse or juniper has ever ventured beyond those lines. Much better to have the stippling only. Even better for the state lines to show through the stippling rather than be hidden.

Minor points: no need for the word Legend, and the state names seem a bit puny in comparison to the areas. You might use letterspaced all caps for those to help "occupy" the territory.

The coastlines seem much too fussy. No need for those coastal sloughs to be shown along the Pacific coastline.

Finally, something seems a little compressed (east-west) about the US locator map. That also could be much simpler, without the uninhabited Channel Islands, every inlet of Chesapeake Bay, or the state boundaries down the center of Lake Michigan.

One last pedantic point: For this map I wouldn't worry too much, but one could also ask what the locator map actually shows. If it's a map of the US, then Alaska and Hawaii are missing. If it's a portion of North America then it needs some additional coastlines showing the parts of Canada and Mexico within the box.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com

#4
razornole

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I would assume that this map/article will be read by an international audience so a reference/locator map is helpful. However, only show the area that is shown on the larger map, i.e. don't highlight the entire state. Only time I will use a north arrow is if the map isn't oriented north up (which is rarely). I can't imagine someone actually using the scale bar as they read your article. You could always put a simple lat/long in there, this is just better scientific practice then cartographic and it will cover you spatial range. Give a shade of grey to your water bodies it will help with the VH.

Agree with most the of the other comments, but be careful with the state names, drop them low in the VH by using a light grey. You don't want them competing with your study areas.

Would like to see something more then a big black star for the study area. Is it study area A or study area 1 etc. If they are in fact point data then a simple leader would be best, if areal then show the area.

kru
"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

#5
AaronP

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Thanks everyone for the great advice on how to improve my study area reference map. I have included a second draft with the following improvements, based on your comments:

  • Removed the border around the juniper-sage grouse areas
  • Added more detail to the legend
  • Added graticule
  • Removed the USA inset map
  • Changed the study site symbols
  • Softened the state names
  • Added coastal vignettes to add water detail

This map is designed to show accuracy assessment sites within existing study areas, so I tried to better represent this in the legend. Any further ideas for improvements or comments most welcome. Thanks again.

Attached Files



#6
razornole

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I think that it is looking better. My main problem with this map is that it has an overall cramped feeling. I think that it could use some breathing space. Idaho label, legend, and scale bar all feel forced to me. Give yourself a little more room, it won't affect the readability of the map.

I had trouble recognizing that it was a legend at first glance. I hate to say it, but I think it needs to be delineated more, but not with the word LEGEND or KEY.

With the graticule, I would put it at a scale where there are at least two parallels. One lat and long really doesn't tell me a whole lot. There needs to be a better distinction between your borders and graticule.

Do you see a problem with the north arrow? Hint, your longitude is north, not the arrow.

kru
"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

#7
DaveB

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Also, I would remove the lines from your coastal vignette. (and maybe even lighten the darkest end a bit)
Dave Barnes
Esri
Product Engineer
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#8
Dennis McClendon

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It's interesting that this is a completely different map than we saw before. Now there are two independent phenomena being mapped. I think the stippling in conjunction with the gray tone is the best solution to this problem in grayscale.

The coastal vignette is distracting. The north arrow bothers me, too, though if the publication requires one, I suppose you've treated it the best way you could. The school symbol has too much meaning to most readers to suddenly be used to represent something else. Just a black dot or square would do fine.

Any way to get in a little more of Idaho? The state names would look nicer in all caps, letterspaced to occupy more space.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com

#9
skorasaurus

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I agree with Dennis' suggestion on making the legend to be more delineated. Perhaps move it into the lower left hand corner or at the least, put a dashed lines -- - - - around it.

Also, I'm not really a fan of the lines along the coast (are those vignette lines ?) I don't know what their purporse is to the map.

Good improvements otherwise.

#10
AaronP

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I believe the attached map is a final draft--thanks for the many constructive comments. Although, there is still time to fix issues if needed. Thanks again!

Attached Files



#11
cristen

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Really nice progress! I do agree with the person who said before to use all-caps spaced lettering for the states (it also helps differentiate it since it's in the same font for everything else), bit it's a minor thing anyhow. The legend could use more whitespace around it, or possibly its own light-grey thin border (leaving enough padding space so the letters aren't crammed by the bounding box's edge of course). Oh! And I'd say exclude the 0'0" from your lats/longs... surely 128deg would be suitable without minutes and seconds? Seems like a case of too many significant figures to me.

Also, I do find it problematic that the coastline is so visually striking, since it is not supposed to be the focus. It would probably draw my eye less if it didn't hold so much contrast - maybe just color the ocean a uniform or cross-hatched light gray?

Still, a very pleasing final draft!

#12
Dennis McClendon

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Seems odd to have every detail along the coastline but not show Lake Tahoe at all.
Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com




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