History of Cartography Project’s Sixth Volume Now Available Online

The History of Cartography Project’s sixth volume, covering the twentieth century, came out three years ago. Edited by Mark Monmonier, it comprised two physical books and nearly two thousand pages and had a list price of $500. That physical edition is still available (e.g. on Amazon), but as of this month it’s available online for free in PDF form, like the first three volumes in the series. (Volumes four and five are still being prepared; volume four, covering the European Enlightenment, is slated to arrive in 2019.) [NLS]

New Books for June 2018


The big book coming out this month, in all senses of the word, is Cartography. by our friend Kenneth Field (Esri Press, 28 June). “This sage compendium for contemporary mapmakers distills the essence of cartography into useful topics, organized for convenience in finding the specific idea or method you need. Unlike books targeted to deep scholarly discourse of cartographic theory, this book provides sound, visually compelling information that translates into practical and useful tools for modern mapmaking. At the intersection of science and art, this book serves as a guidepost for designing an accurate and effective map.” A hardcover edition is also available.

Borders, Trade and Diplomacy

June saw the publication of a new paperback edition of Jerry Brotton’s Trading Territories: Mapping the Early Modern World (Reaktion, 18 June), in which the author “shows that trade and diplomacy defined the development of maps and globes in this period, far more than the disinterested pursuit of scientific accuracy and objectivity, and challenges our preconceptions about not just maps, but also the history and geography of what we call East and West.” Amazon

Carving Up the Globe: An Atlas of Diplomacy, edited by Malise Ruthven (Belknap/Harvard University Press, 18 June), “illustrates treaties that have determined the political fates of millions. In rich detail, it chronicles everything from ancient Egyptian and Hittite accords to the first Sino–Tibetan peace in 783 CE, the Sykes–Picot Agreement of 1916, and the 2014 Minsk Protocol looming over the war in Ukraine. But there is more here than shifting territorial frontiers. Throughout history, diplomats have also drawn boundaries around valuable resources and used treaties to empower, liberate, and constrain. Carving Up the Globe encompasses these agreements, too, across land, sea, and air. Missile and nuclear pacts, environmental treaties, chemical weapons conventions, and economic deals are all carefully rendered.” Amazon

Steven Seegel’s Map Men: Transnational Lives and Deaths of Geographers in the Making of East Central Europe (University of Chicago Press, 29 June) “takes us through some of these historical dramas with a detailed look at the maps that made and unmade the world of East Central Europe through a long continuum of world war and revolution. As a collective biography of five prominent geographers between 1870 and 1950—Albrecht Penck, Eugeniusz Romer, Stepan Rudnyts’kyi, Isaiah Bowman, and Count Pál Teleki—Map Men reexamines the deep emotions, textures of friendship, and multigenerational sagas behind these influential maps.” Amazon, iBooks

The U.S. Navy and Cartography

To Master the Boundless Sea: The U.S. Navy, the Marine Environment, and the Cartography of Empire by Jason W. Smith (University of North Carolina Press, 8 June). “By recasting and deepening our understanding of the U.S. Navy and the United States at sea, Smith brings to the fore the overlooked work of naval hydrographers, surveyors, and cartographers. In the nautical chart’s soundings, names, symbols, and embedded narratives, Smith recounts the largely untold story of a young nation looking to extend its power over the boundless sea.” (The ebook version was out in April.) Amazon

Multispectral Martellus

Henricus Martellus’s World Map at Yale (c. 1491): Multispectral Imaging, Sources, and Influence by Chet Van Duzer (Springer, 25 June) reports on the results of multispectral imaging of a map previously thought illegible due to faded text. “This volume provides transcriptions, translations, and commentary on the Latin texts on the map, particularly their sources, as well as the place names in several regions. This leads to a demonstration of a very close relationship between the Martellus map and Martin Waldseemüller’s famous map of 1507. One of the most exciting discoveries on the map is in the hinterlands of southern Africa. The information there comes from African sources; the map is thus a unique and supremely important document regarding African cartography in the fifteenth century. This book is essential reading for digital humanitarians and historians of cartography.” Amazon

Map Books of 2018 Updated

The Map Books of 2018 page has been updated to include several new forthcoming books and to reflect changes to previously announced publication dates (which happens quite a lot, it seems).

New and Reissued Books for April 2018

New Editions

The third edition of Mark Monmonier’s classic How to Lie with Maps (University of Chicago Press, 1o April) “includes significant updates throughout as well as new chapters on image maps, prohibitive cartography, and online maps. It also includes an expanded section of color images and an updated list of sources for further reading.” I reviewed the second edition back in May 2006. Amazon, iBooks

The Phantom AtlasThe Phantom Atlas, Edward Brooke-Hitching’s book about fictitious places that were once presented as real places, came out in the U.K. in November 2016. Though North American buyers could get a copy via online sellers, a proper U.S. edition (Chronicle, 3 April) is now available. The Wall Street Journal, of all places, has a review. Previously: The Phantom AtlasMore on Two Books About Nonexistent Places. Amazon, iBooks (U.K. edition, U.S. edition)

New in April

Zayde Antrim’s Mapping the Middle East (Reaktion, 1 April) “explores the many perspectives from which people have visualized the vast area lying between the Atlantic Ocean and the Oxus and Indus river valleys over the past millennium. By analysing maps produced from the eleventh century on, Zayde Antrim emphasizes the deep roots of mapping in a world region too often considered unexamined and unchanging before the modern period. Indeed, maps from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, coinciding with the eras of European colonialism and the rise of the nation-state, have obscured this deeper past and constrained future possibilities.” Amazon

Jeremy Black’s Mapping Shakespeare: An Exploration of Shakespeare’s Worlds Through Maps (Conway, 10 April) “looks at the England, Europe, and wider world in which Shakespeare worked through maps and illustrations that reveal the way that he and his contemporaries saw their land and their place in the world. It also explores the locations of his plays and looks at the possible inspirations for these and why Shakespeare would have chosen to set his stories there.” Amazon, iBooks

The Art of Map Illustration: A Step-by-Step Artistic Exploration of Contemporary Cartography and Mapmaking (Walter Foster, 3 April), an illustrated guide featuring the work and method of four map illustrators (James Gulliver Hancock, Hennie Haworth, Stuart Hill and Sarah King), was reviewed on The Map Room earlier this month. Amazon

Related: Map Books of 2018.

Advice on Choropleth Maps

Last month Lisa Charlotte Rost published a post on Datawrapper’s blog full of tips about choropleth maps: when to use them (and when not to), how to make them better (lots about colour use), along with some examples of good ones. Worth bookmarking.

She followed that up with another post focusing on one particular factor: the size of the geographic unit. Choropleth maps that shows data by municipality, county, region, state or country will look quite different, even if they show the same data. Averages tend to cancel out extremes. She gives the following examples:

In Praise of Inset Maps

The kerfuffle about Shetland being relegated to inset maps (Ed Parsons has taken to calling this “Insetgate”) is not quite done. Kenneth Field shares his thoughts in a post titled “In Praise of Insets,” in which he calls Scottish politician Tavish Scott’s proposal to ban the use of inset maps to portray Shetland as “utter nonsense” and goes on to defend their use more generally.

Insets are not just used to move geographically awkward places. They are commonly used to create larger scale versions of the map for smaller, yet more densely populated places. Often they are positioned over sparsely populated land to use space wisely. I’m guessing Scott would have an objection to an inset that, to his mind, would exaggerate the geographical importance of Glasgow compared to Shetland. Yet … in population terms it’s a place of massively greater importance so one could argue it deserves greater relative visual prominence on the map. Many maps are about people, not geography.

Previously: Don’t Put Shetland in a BoxBruce Gittings on the Shetland Controversy.

The Unrecognized Women of Cartography

The Future Mapping Company looks at the unrecognized women of cartography. They point out that there are only two women (Marie Tharp and Jessamine Shumate) among the 200-plus names on Wikipedia’s list of cartographers, and come up with 10 names, some of which you might have heard of (Tharp, Phyllis Pearsall), others maybe you haven’t, but should have—and now you have. [NLS]

Coming Soon: Kenneth Field’s Open Online Course on Cartography

Esri will be hosting a free, six-week massive open online course (MOOC) on cartography later this year. Called Cartography., it’s taught by Kenneth Field and coincides with the release of Field’s textbook of the same name.

Each weekly lesson in the Cartography. MOOC focuses on the creation of one exemplary map that draws together key cartographic ideas. Lessons consist of about two hours of content, including video discussions, guided and self-guided exercises using ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Online, quizzes, interactions between students and instructors, and supplemental resources. Participants who engage with all the course content will receive a certificate of completion and a discount code to purchase Cartography., the book, should they wish to continue their learning.

Registration opens on 18 April and continues until 2 May. It is, as I mentioned, free; Esri expects more than 10,000 people to sign up.

Cartography., the book, is currently scheduled to come out in June.


Yesterday I told you about Mapzen’s announcement that it would be closing down at the end of the month. So it’s bittersweet that I find, in my to-do list of links to post here, a Mapzen project. Morphology is a tool that abstracts the map into an unlabelled set of lines, patterns and forms. The default view combines several different features, but you can isolate single features: airports, roads, parks, bodies of water, and more. The work of Mapzen cartographer Geraldine Sarmiento, it was first presented as a NACIS talk last October. [Atlas Obscura]

A Digital Cartographer Tries Drawing by Hand

John M. Nelson

Fresh from trying to replicate hand-drawn effects (or even papercut effects) digitally, John M. Nelson has crossed over and begun attempting actual hand-drawn maps. Here he documents how he created a hand-drawn map as a Christmas present; here he gives hillshading by hand a try.

Previously: Five Years of DroughtCartographers’ StoriesThe Earth at Night, Updated.

Canadian Geographic’s (and Chris Brackley’s) Best Maps

Canadian Geographic

Canadian Geographic looks at the best maps it published in 2017. It did the same in 2016 and in 2015. The funny thing about the maps in these year’s-best posts is that they’re all by CG’s in-house cartographer, Chris Brackley, who the RCGS is clearly glad to have on board—and based on what I can see of his work, they should be.

Examples of Multivariate Maps

Jim Vallandingham looks at multivariate maps:

There are many types of maps that are used to display data. Choropleths and Cartograms provide two great examples. I gave a talk, long long ago, about some of these map varieties.

Most of these more common map types focus on a particular variable that is displayed. But what if you have multiple variables that you would like to present on a map at the same time?

Here is my attempt to collect examples of multivariate maps I’ve found and organize them into a loose categorization. Follow along, or dive into the references, to spur on your own investigations and inspirations!

Jim’s examples of maps that display more than one variable include 3D maps, multicolour choropleth maps, multiple small maps, and embedded charts and symbols. Useful and enlightening.

Map Fonts

Siyu Cao

Lakeside, released in May 2013, is a font inspired by topographical maps. The brainchild of Siyu Cao, Lakeside “is a typeface inspired by natural forms and topography. Letter forms are defined by positive and negative space, which could be compared to mountains (positive) and lakes (negative) in nature. The design is based on the language of cartography and the 3D visualization of the typeface follows the contours of each letter. The typeface could be further integrated with architecture, creating green public space that can be read from high above.” It’s not available for download—was this a proof of concept?—and it’s rather hard to see how it could be used in the real world. [A Map a Day]

OldFonts.com has a number of fonts inspired by the lettering on old maps whose licenses are relatively affordable; they remind me a bit of the IM Fell series of fonts (one of which I use for The Map Room’s wordmark).

But the font you use on your map should almost certainly not be so obviously mappy. There’s at least one font designed for maps. Back in 2005 I told you about Cisalpin, a humanist lineal font designed by Felix Arnold for use in cartography. It’s available for licensing on Linotype.

But that’s not to say that other fonts shouldn’t be used; here’s a Cartotalk thread from 2005 and another from 2011 that talk about the best fonts to use on maps.

More font-related links. Writing on the ArcGIS Blog in 2008, Aileen Buckley offered minimum size guidelines for text and symbols on maps, based on viewing distance and whether the map is printed or on a screen. Gretchen Peterson’s blog has a typography categoryTypeBrewer, a tool to explore typography in a mapmaking context that I told you about in 2008, is temporarily offline, unfortunately.

A Book Roundup

The Routledge Handbook

Out last month, the expensive, 600-page Routledge Handbook of Mapping and Cartography (Routledge). Edited by Alexander J. Kent (who co-wrote The Red Atlas) and Peter Vujakovic, the book “draws on the wealth of new scholarship and practice in this emerging field, from the latest conceptual developments in mapping and advances in map-making technology to reflections on the role of maps in society. It brings together 43 engaging chapters on a diverse range of topics, including the history of cartography, map use and user issues, cartographic design, remote sensing, volunteered geographic information (VGI), and map art.” [The History of Cartography Project]

New Academic Books

New academic books on maps and cartography published over the past couple of months include:

More on Books We’ve Heard of Before

National Geographic interviews Malachy Tallack, the author of The Un-Discovered Islands, and The Guardian shares seven maps from James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti’s Where the Animals Go.

Related: Map Books of 2017.

Andrew Douglas-Clifford’s Maps of New Zealand

New Zealand cartographer Andrew Douglas-Clifford (“The Map Kiwi”) recently got profiled by The Press, a Christchurch-based newspaper. I’ve been aware of his work for a while; it includes some interesting items, like a map of state highways in the form of a metro map, a series of circle-shaped city maps (so-called “map dots”), and, most recently, a map of New Zealand’s uninhabited places. Prints available via his website. [WMS]

Fake Maps! (Very Dishonest)

Here’s a video of Steven Feldman’s informative and entertaining talk at FOSS4G in Boston last August: “Fake Maps, Very Dishonest” looks at the ways in which maps, through ignorance, incompetence or deliberate intent, can mislead, misinform, misfire and miss the point. Very much in the vein of Monmonier’s How to Lie with Maps, or Andrew Wiseman’s “When Maps Lie,” but very much aimed at working mapmakers. Slides of Steven’s presentation are available here (there are some that didn’t make it into the actual talk). Slides and videos of other FOSS4G presentations are also available online. [Benjamin Hennig]