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Topographic maps: methodological approaches for analyzing cartographic style

Kent, Alexander (2009) Topographic maps: methodological approaches for analyzing cartographic style Journal of Map and Geography Libraries, 6, (2), pp. 131-156. (doi:10.1080/15420350903001187).

Record type: Article


Despite their status and ubiquity, modern state topographic maps are seldom the topic of cartographic research. There is a notable deficiency in the number of empirical studies that investigate their design, or, given their heritage, examine their symbology with a view to identifying the ingredients of style. The issue of stylistic similarities and differences raises important questions for the history and development of map symbology and the wider relationship between maps and society. The absence of critical interpretations of topographic map symbology—which lay beyond a discussion of the problems of cartographic representation—has also meant that the cultural rationale for stylistic diversity has been neglected. This paper describes a strategy for identifying and explaining similarities and differences in the cartographic style of topographic maps, with a view toward developing a methodology for classifying and analyzing their symbology. It provides a review of existing approaches for investigating style in thematic cartography (such as transport maps and national atlases) before proposing that a future method should be based on that of Piket (1972), and offer direct application. A systematic analysis of topographic map symbology would be particularly useful for identifying supranational styles and for exploring the extent to which national conditions—specific variables such as population density and cars in use, together with wider ideological changes such as the achievement of political independence—are intrinsically expressed through topographic map symbology.

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Published date: July 2009
Keywords: topographic maps, map symbols, map design


Local EPrints ID: 69809
ISSN: 1542-0353
PURE UUID: 584e8353-5f53-4fab-9e71-410abc22ba32

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Date deposited: 04 Dec 2009
Last modified: 19 Jul 2017 00:06

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Author: Alexander Kent

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