When creating maps they are always certain elements which are crucial which will help your audience understand the message that is contained within your map. These elements include:
- the Legend
- North Arrow
- A little text (if the map has too much data to display)
We are going to explain a bit of how best you can come up with content for these elements in order to fulfill your mission.
A map legend or key is a visual explanation of the symbols used on the map. It typically includes a sample of each symbol (point, line, or area), and a short description of what the symbol means. For example, a short segment of a blue sinuous line may be labeled ‘rivers’.
Its always great and best practice to give appropriate labels for your legend. A lot of people forget to edit their legend labels and end up having variable names as the legend labels. This is bad practice when mapping.
The scale of a map is the ratio of a distance on the map to the corresponding distance on the ground.
In some cases, scales might not be important for the audience since no-one would really be measuring anything. But when it comes to layout plans and maps, scale is a really important aspect and should be carefully considered. The good thing about GIS software is that all this is catered for you by default. All you have to do at times is just specify the coordinate system which you intent to use and you are good to go.
An element in a map layout that describes the theme or subject of a map. The title of the map should depict applicable information for the intended audience, depending on how well they know the subject before viewing the map.
The audience should not find it difficult to understand what your map is all about. The map title can also serve as a center of attraction. A poor title will not be of any interest to the audience.
A north arrow (sometimes also called a compass rose) is a figure displaying the main directions, North, South, East and West. On a map it is used to indicate the direction of North.
For example, in GIS this means that a house that is located north from a lake can be found on top of the lake on a map. The road in the east will then be to the right of the water body on the map, a river in the south will be below the water body and if you are searching for a train station to the west of the lake you will find it on the left side on the map.
Source: QGIS Documentation
In this course we have only covered the basics for the process. For more information and details, you can always refer to the QGIS Documentation to get more information on what is what and where to place and how to place it.
Now let’s jump straight into the final segment…