GEOG 486
Cartography and Visualization



A. Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Recognize the visual variables that are better for nominal data, and those better for ordinal data.
  • Identify visual cues that contribute to the creation of a visual hierarchy.
  • Symbolize point, line, and polygon features using visual variables that fit the logic of the data.
  • Create an appropriate visual hierarchy among the symbols using placement, color scheme, size, and other visual variables.

B. Project Overview

This is a two-week project (Lessons 2 and 3). This week you will gain hands-on experience in symbolizing data, manipulating graphics and developing a map layout. In the second half of this project (Lesson 3) you will work with typography and manipulate multiple frame layouts to produce an effective large-scale reference map.

Because of the experience and knowledge you have gained in the previous Certificate Program courses, this lesson has been written differently than what you may be accustomed to. Rather than lead you through explicit steps on the way to a predefined result, there is room in the instruction for your own design choices and decisions. My goal is to have you read and consider the concept gallery items and then apply those topics to the task at hand. I hope this will encourage you to think about the different design possibilities and then choose those that you feel are most effective.

For this project we will assume a scenario. You are a cartographer tasked with creating a large-scale reference map for the Centre County commissioners. As part of a Homeland Security initiative, they have sponsored a study of emergency response and management readiness. The pilot study is limited to Bellefonte, the county seat. The map should include data layers such as roads, hydrography, hospitals, airports, and other facilities at risk. Also included are the locations of emergency responders.

Week 1

  • Create an initial reference map that includes all relevant data layers
  • Symbolize data layers to create an appropriate visual hierarchy
  • Create custom symbols for spatial features
  • Specify custom colors (mindful of constraints)

Week 2

  • Label features dynamically
  • Create logical label hierarchy
  • Create custom text effects
  • Convert dynamic labels to annotation and customize placement
  • Include and organize multiple map frames at varying scales

C. Lesson Checklist

Lesson 2 is one week in length. (See the Calendar in Canvas for specific due dates.) To finish this lesson, you must complete the activities listed below. You may find it useful to print this page so that you can follow along with the directions.

Step Activity Access/Directions
1 Read the concepts introduced for this lesson. See the Concept Gallery page to begin.
2 Work through the Lesson 2 portion of the Project. See the Part I: Getting Started page to begin.
3 Submit the Lesson 2 portion of the Project.

Detailed instructions located on the Lesson Project Tasks page.

4 Take Lesson 2 Quiz. Take Lesson 2 Quiz in Canvas.


If you have any questions now or at any point during this week, please feel free to post them to the Lesson 2 Discussion Forum. While you are there, feel free to post your own responses if you, too, are able to help a classmate.