An expertly designed map can really boost a design portfolio. Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet for creating one, as each depends entirely on end-user needs. There are, however, common steps you can take to ensure a professional, high-quality map. Looking for a roadmap to remarkable results?
Use this Pre-Map-Printing Checklist to Ensure an Epic Map:
Have you contacted your map printer?
This may sound premature, but you should always contact your printer before beginning to create your digital file. They can help you avoid later, time-consuming edits due to paper color, folding idiosyncrasies and more, saving you precious time and money.
Does your map have a title?
A map shouldn’t leave readers speculating over its purpose. Choose a title that is obvious and direct. (For instance: ‘Smoky Mountain Trail Map’ or ‘Voters Over 55 by State’.)
Does your map have a clear purpose?
If your map didn’t have a title, someone should be able to look at it and interpret its intention quickly (trail maps, census data, etc.).
Have you sourced an appropriate map template?
High resolution map data is integral to high quality printed results. If you’re not lucky enough to have access to such data via your organization, be sure to source your own from trusted resources, such as the National Geospatial Program of the U.S. or USGS historical mapping data, and note sources.
Is your map scale appropriate?
Understanding the scale of your map is essential to successful map design. Carefully consider extent and coverage (large or small scale), placing the main feature front-and-center, and adding other important features for reference.
Have you glossed-over projection?
Map projections flatten the curved surface of the earth. Defining this projection – and listing it in your map’s metadata – is essential to revealing distortion.
Is your orientation appropriate?
For example, linear features like pipelines and highways running east-to-west work best with a horizontal orientation. Landscape and portrait orientation are available for a variety of map sizes.
Are your labels legible?
Place them with purpose, left-right and south-north, carefully considering typeface, size and color. Busy, hard-to-read maps land in the trash.
Did you use standard symbology and coloring?
Confusing symbols, landmark and map coloring will cost you in reader confidence.
Are water features correctly formatted?
They should be blue, italicized and curve with features (like rivers).
Is your legend conclusive and concise?
Legends should be left-justified, featuring all necessary data, with unnecessary items removed for easy interpretation. This essential, functional element can make or break your map. Be sure to cross-check essential signs/symbols.
Have you included a scale bar and north arrow?
These allow for the easy/practical measurement of distance and direction.
Have you overwhelmed the reader?
Avoid over-informing (read: overcomplicating) your map. Don’t be afraid to remove unnecessary information.
Where’s the date?
You’d be surprised how often this essential information is overlooked.
Did the client ask to put their logo on the map?
If a logo is being used, is it the correct/current version? (The creator’s name should also be there to help identify the author/producer of the project.)
Did you spell check?
Misspellings will quickly cost you in credibility.
Are your layers ordered by importance?
The proper hierarchy will prevent buried/disappearing data.
Have you triple-checked files?
After multiple revisions, ensure correct digital file linkage before turning in your map for printing to protect content accuracy.
Keep your map out of the garbage can. Contact MapPrinter to ensure the trouble-free navigation of your map printing journey today.