One of the most common questions a map producer is asked by customers is, “How often do you update your paper maps?” Those new to map production often wonder the same. With the ever-constant updating of software in today’s digital era, are they lagging behind the times? There is, unfortunately, no ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer…
The Frequency of Updating a Paper Map Should Vary Based on a Variety of Factors:
- The number of changes since the previous revision.
The number (and extent) of changes since the last revision is an obvious factor. A roadmap of an area with a recently added toll expressway would be a prime candidate, as would a mountain trail map following an avalanche… A rural area map with minimal additions, not so much.
- The popularity of the map.
A map of a popular area (such as Great Smoky Mountains National Park) should be updated more often than that of a less traversed one (such as the remote and cold North Cascades National Park in Washington). However this should also be affected by the addition of new footpaths, roads, or facilities.
- Stock depletion.
When a superseded edition is depleted, it’s obviously time for a new run. (The trick here is often anticipating the depletion and what changes/additions are necessary.)
- Financial and environmental considerations.
For those on a limited budget or those looking to minimize environmental waste, waiting on updating a map until previous editions have run out may be preferable, particularly if there are minimal map changes.
The occasional map printing mistake does unfortunately happen. Look at each instance individually. However barring something especially heinous (such as a Nigera Falls/Niagara Falls typo… or mislabeling I-75 as I-72…), simply logging the mistake until the next revision will typically suffice.
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