Because Halos

Mostly, halos around labels on maps look bad. Especially when they are large and in high-contrast with the background. For example:

Halo Example Mega Size



We typically prefer what has been referred to recently as masking halos. These are fairly thin and match the background color. For example:




Any questions?


  1. #1 by randy horner on December 19, 2014 - 6:07 am

    Always enjoy your insights and love your books. Your example works well on black and white but we are having a hard time with labels on aerials. Any suggestions?

  2. #2 by G.P. on December 19, 2014 - 10:43 am

    Aerial photos are so hard to work with in cartography due to the highly varied, pixel-by-pixel changes in hue. I typically recommend trying to lighten the saturation of the aerial. Alternatively, semiopaque boxes underneath the labels could work but are not ideal.

  3. #3 by Matthew Miles on December 19, 2014 - 8:45 pm

    Generally when I need an ‘all-purpose’ halo I use about a 10% grey, 1px halo, because it’s much more subtle than pure white, while still calling attention to the fact that there’s text there, and it usually works on any background. Sort of the reverse of this concept:

    I have to make alternate maps a lot for different groups, with usually the same content on both maps but a light topo on one map and an aerial photo for the other, and this tends to work well without having to adjust everything for each map. YMMV, though.

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