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]

An Austro-Hungarian Mapmaking Guide

Schlüssel und vorlageblatter für den situations zeichnungs unterricht, 1882. K.K Militar-Geografischen Institute. C1:5 b.3. Bodleian Library.

The Bodleian Map Room Blog posts some excerpts from an 1882 Austro-Hungarian guide to mapmaking. “The Schlüssel und vorlageblatter für den situations zeichnungs unterricht (which translates roughly as ‘Key and template for drawing lessons’) is a teaching aid created by the Institute of Military Geography in the Austro-Hungarian Ministry of War in 1882 for the drawing of maps. Inside there are a number of different terrain examples and sheets showing scales, text, topographical features and legends.” As the blog post points out, the purpose of the guide was to ensure uniformity in military mapmaking. [Benjamin Hennig]

Tissot’s Indicatrix

Tissot’s indicatrices superimposed on the Robinson projection. Map by Eric Gaba. Wikimedia Commons.

Geo Lounge’s Elizabeth Borneman has a piece on Tissot’s indicatrix, which tends to turn up in discussions of map projections. (See, for example, this piece from Vox’s Johnny Harris, and the accompanying video.) And for good reason: it’s a useful visualization tool. All maps distort—representing a curved surface on a flat plane, et cetera, et cetera—but a grid of Tissot’s indicatrices superimposed on a world map will measure the distortion—linear, angular, by area—produced by that map’s projection. On the Mercator projection, the indicatrices remain perfect circles, but grow larger toward the poles; on equal-area equatorial projections, they maintain their size but squish into ellipses; on other projections they also angle left or right depending on how close they are to the edge. On compromise projections like the Robinson (see above), they do all three.

New Map Books for September 2017

Map books coming out this month:

The Art of Cartographics (Goodman) is available now in the U.K. but won’t come out in North America until March 2018. The publisher describes it as “a stunning collection of maps designed in a unique way. […] This carefully curated book selects the most creative and interesting map design projects from around the world, and offers inspiration for designers and map-lovers alike. Covering themes including power, gentrification, literature, animals, plants and food, and showcasing handrawn, painted, digital, 3D sculpted and folded maps, Cartographics offers a slice of social history that is as beautiful as it is fascinating.” Buy at Amazon U.K. | Pre-order at Amazon

In a similar vein, while the British edition of Where the Animals Go, a compendium of spectacular maps of animal paths, came out last November, U.S. readers have had to wait until now: W. W. Norton is publishing the U.S. edition, and it comes out next week. Buy at Amazon

Also out next week: the National Geographic Atlas of Beer (National Geographic). I have no information about the quantity or quality of the maps therein, but according to the publisher the book does have some: “The most visually stunning and comprehensive beer atlas available, this richly illustrated book includes more beers and more countries than any other book of its kind. Including beer recommendations from Garrett Oliver, the famed brewmaster of Brooklyn Brewery, and written by ‘beer geographers’ Nancy Hoalst-Pullen and Mark Patterson, this indispensable guide features more than 100 illuminating maps and over 200 beautiful color photos.” Buy at Amazon

Related: Map Books of 2017.

Women and Cartography in the Progressive Era

Christina E. Dando’s Women and Cartography in the Progressive Era (Routledge) came out earlier this month. From the publisher: “As women became more mobile (physically, socially, politically), they used and created geographic knowledge and maps. […] Long overlooked, this women’s work represents maps and mapping that today we would term community or participatory mapping, critical cartography and public geography. These historic examples of women-generated mapping represent the adoption of cartography and geography as part of women’s work. […] This study explores the implications of women’s use of this technology in creating and presenting information and knowledge and wielding it to their own ends.” [WMS]

Amazon | iBooks

Related: Map Books of 2017.

The Penguin Projection

“A world map tells a lot about the person who has made it, or about the market it is made for,” says Frans Blok. The edges of equatorial projections are determined so as to put the map’s audience at the centre of the map: European maps put the Bering Strait at the edges, Australian and Asian maps the Atlantic, American maps break Asia in two. If, however, only the polar regions were habitable—or if you were making a map for penguins—you might use a polar projection centred on Antarctica.

Frans Blok

“And no, for European use this map is less suitable. But there aren’t that many penguins living here,” says Blok. [ICA]

When Users Don’t Interact with Interactive Maps

Brian Timoney responds to the argument that few users actually interact with interactive infographics with some thoughts on how that might apply to online maps, with their sometimes-complicated, GIS-derived user interfaces. His suggestions? Static maps, small multiples, animated GIFs, text-based search—simpler, more user-friendly, more familiar UIs and ways to present mapped data.

The 74 on Boston Schools and the Peters Map

Education news website The 74 has its own coverage of the Boston schools/Peters map controversy (is it safe to call it a controversy?), with extensive quotes from Matthew Edney, who does not mince words. (Comparing both projections to Comic Sans? Ouch.) [Caitlin Dempsey]

Previously: More on Boston Schools and the Peters MapThe Peters Map Is Fighting the Last WarThe Peters Projection Comes to Boston’s Public SchoolsIn Defence of the Mercator ProjectionHow the Mercator Projection Won the Internet.

William Rankin Profiled

Over at the Toynbee Prize Foundation’s Global History Forum, Timothy Nunan has a long article about Yale history of science professor William Rankin, author of last year’s After the Map: Cartography, Navigation, and the Transformation of Territory in the Twentieth Century (book website, publisher, Amazon, iBooks) and the themes—the shifting relationship between map and territory, for example—addressed by that book. [WMS]

Previously: After the MapWilliam Rankin, Author of ‘After the Map,’ Interviewed.

Deadline Extended for Corlis Benefideo Award Nominations

The nomination deadline for the Corlis Benefideo Award has been extended to April 15. The Award, given by the North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS), “recognizes imaginative cartography,” which is defined in part as “the potential … to transform our ways of seeing and understanding our world, and to trigger imaginative reaction from its audience.” It’s named for a character in “The Mappist,” a short story by Barry Lopez, and if you’ve read the story you’ll understand how appropriate the name is. (The story can be found in two of Lopez’s collections: Light Action in the Caribbean and Vintage Lopez.)

Nominations for this award are accepted from anyone, not just NACIS members.

Flex Projector

With all this recent talk about map projections, it might be worth pointing out the existence of Flex Projector, a cross-platform Java application for creating map projections, now at version 1.0.6. Yes, creating: if you want to invent your own map projection and slap your own name on it, you can do that with this app; others certainly have. (You will need to have Java installed on your computer.) Heck, Tom Patterson’s Natural Earth projection was built with it. [GIS Lounge]

Previously: Shaded Relief World Map and Flex Projector.

More on Boston Schools and the Peters Map

Atlas Obscura’s Cara Giaimo has an in-depth look at the reaction to the decision by Boston public schools to adopt the Peters projection in teaching materials. It’s well worth taking the time to read; the general gist from several cartographers and commentators is that swapping the Mercator for the Peters isn’t that much of an improvement. Though it includes comments from yours truly (I was in touch for this article), Giaimo talks to people who actually do know what they’re talking about, including Mark Monmonier (who, again, literally wrote the book on the Mercator projection) and Matthew Edney (who spoke to WZON 3 about this topic earlier).

Joshua Stevens, NASA’s data visualization and cartography lead:

Also on Twitter, and to emphasize how long this has been going on, Jeremy Crampton notes his 1994 paper, “Cartography’s Defining Moment: The Peters Projection Controversy, 1974–1990.” A sequel may be required.

Previously: The Peters Map Is Fighting the Last WarThe Peters Projection Comes to Boston’s Public SchoolsIn Defence of the Mercator ProjectionHow the Mercator Projection Won the Internet.