What Does a Map Legend Mean?

The symbols, forms, and colours used on a map are explained in a side table or box called a map legend. The map key is another name for the map legend. A scale is frequently included in the map legend to aid in measuring distances.

Historically, map legends have been static parts on printed maps, but dynamic map legends are now a common feature of interactive digital maps.

What Does a Map Legend Show?

A map’s characteristics are denoted by colours, forms, and symbols in the map legend. If you look closely at a physical location map, you might see lakes, rivers, and mountain ranges highlighted in the map legend.

Areas of influence for a political party or specific leader can be found on a political map. A map legend will display the colours and forms for the dominant political forces, such as parties, in a given state or region.

The Use of Map Legends

Map legends, which include a colour or symbol and a description of what they imply, are sometimes found near the top or bottom of a map. To get a clearer understanding of the area of the map you’re seeing, first check your map area and then review the map key.

The map legend’s goal is to display connections between various objects. If you’re in a big city, you can decide to use the subway map instead of a bus or a car. The map’s legend can be used to show the complexity or simplicity of your trip using the public transit system in addition to the route’s distance. A printed map legend’s ability to illustrate spatial relationships is a major strength.

Map Types and Legends

Since there are numerous various kinds of maps, the map legend differs depending on the map’s intended use. The shapes and symbols on physical geographic region maps probably represent the locations of towns and cities, rivers and lakes, governmental structures, county borders, and highways. The legend for more specialised maps will be different. For instance, the map legend for a large building or complex will emphasise things like doors, windows, exits, stairwells, fences, and property lines.

Maps in Print: Types

Mapmakers and cartographers have produced maps for use by travellers ever since the dawn of time. Early maps were first created on parchment paper, then onto clay-based tablets, and lastly on printed maps and book atlases.

There are many different sorts of maps and legends available today. Both huge road maps in bound atlases and popular foldable printed road maps are available. As a meteorologist, you would consult climate and weather maps. Reference maps, political maps, population maps, gender maps, and other types of maps are available.

Advantages of Printing Maps

Due to the widespread use of mobile devices with satellite-assisted GPS during the past 20 years, printed maps have fallen out of favour. Few of us today could survive without the invention of voice navigation on mobile devices in cars. On the other hand, paper maps and their legends can frequently better direct us on our trips than little screens.

One way to help passengers get a sense of what’s nearby and not only on the way to the destination is to glance at a broader map. You can estimate the distance between your start and your turnaround loop using a printed map if you are holding one while hiking.


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