7. Blue is for Water

This may seem obvious. However, sometimes in the heat of a design binge, it’s easy to select blue as a nice, neutral color to use on your base map. Don’t do it! Brains don’t like it. Namely, your map users’ brains. Whether […]

5. Avoid Using 100% Black Text

Type and Text

Given their size, form, and distinct appearance from other map visuals, text demands attention by default. Text boxes in particular will command attention. Rarely do you want all of your text to stand out in the visual hierarchy. Thus, there […]

6. Your Map Projection Must Frame Your Message

Map Layout

Often, we cartographers think of selecting a projection as a boring task. And for good reason! Projection lectures were often the ones you immediately tuned out as an undergrad. Nothing like listening to a disinterested professor drone on about compromise versus […]

4. Map Copy Is All About YOU

Type and Text

My favorite book to read before bed is “Words That Sell.” The title says it all: it’s a book full of word lists to use in different contexts to elicit different feelings and emotions from readers. The idea, of course, is to use […]

3. Shape Your Text Boxes Like Funnels

Type and Text

It’s amazing how simple happenstance can change your thinking forever. One evening in the fall of 2000, I randomly pulled a graphic design book off the shelf at a Barnes & Noble Bookstore in State College, Pennsylvania. I flipped to a page in the […]

2. Don’t Center-Align Your Text

Type and Text

There’s no shame in it. We’ve all made this mistake at some point in our lives. Until someone actually points out that center-aligning more than one line of text  is a horrible design decision, almost everyone believes it’s a surefire method […]

1. Avoid Default Fonts

Type and Text

Though subtle, using unique fonts has a MASSIVE impact on map aesthetic. Imagine if National Geographic only used Arial and Times New Roman on their maps. Would you appreciate the maps differently? Would they be lacking some personality or uniqueness you’ve come […]