Cartographer's Toolkit

Map Making Tips, Tricks, and Inspiration

Handing Over a Map: Be Proactive

August 15th, 2012

Whenever you present a product to your client–whether it’s a series of mock-ups, an intermediate-stage product, or a finished map–be proactive by letting the client know what decisions were made and why those decisions were made with reference to the design. You want to essentially “announce” what you’ve done. There are two reasons for this:

(1) To thwart questions and negative comments. When the client understands upfront the rational basis for color choices, font choices, and overall design choices, they are more likely to agree with what you’ve done.

(2) Really good design is easy to ignore. People do like to say that no feedback is good feedback, but you want to get credit for those good decisions. Go ahead and explain how the map was made and your client will have a whole new understanding of your capabilities.

Remember, a great map (or any project for that matter) will come from one of three situations: a receptive client, a noble cause, or great subject matter. Seek these.

Upcoming Appearance on Google Hangout with James Fee

August 13th, 2012

[Edited to add: The hangout with James Fee did not go as well as I’d hoped. My answers were pretty bad, and my microphone wasn’t working well. Hey, nerves are to be expected talking to one of the biggest names in the industry, right?!]

I’ll be chatting with James Fee about cartography and the new book on Wednesday at 11:00 AM MDT. Please join in. If you can’t make it, it’ll probably be available via James’ blog Spatially Adjusted soon after. This is a weekly series that James/WeoGeo is putting on.

It looks like WeoGeo is going to give away two free books!

Some chatter on the subject today:

Masking Text in ArcGIS

August 11th, 2012

When certain features interfere with your labels like in this example, where the graticule line goes through the map title, the map appears unpolished:

If you are using ArcGIS to make the map, you can fix this by masking the text. Use the exact same background color that is underneath whatever feature you are “interrupting” and it’ll look like you purposely started and stopped the feature–in this example, the graticule line–before and after the text.

To do this: double-click the text feature, edit symbol, mask, halo, symbol, change color to the map’s background color, then click OK about five times. You can play around with the mask width to get just the right amount of spacing between the text and the surrounding feature(s).

The polished end-product:

Cartographer's Toolkit

Map Making Tips, Tricks, and Inspiration