GEOG 482
The Nature of Geographic Information

8. Scale as a Verb

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The term "scale" is sometimes used as a verb. To scale a map is to reproduce it at a different size. For instance, if you photographically reduce a 1:100,000-scale map to 50 percent of its original width and height, the result would be one-quarter the area of the original. Obviously, the map scale of the reduction would be smaller too: 1/2 x 1/100,000 = 1/200,000.

Because of the inaccuracies inherent in all geographic data, particularly in small scale maps, scrupulous geographic information specialists avoid enlarging source maps. To do so is to exaggerate generalizations and errors. The original map used to illustrate areas in Pennsylvania disqualified from consideration for low-level radioactive waste storage shown on an earlier page, for instance, was printed with the statement "Because of map scale and printing considerations, it is not appropriate to enlarge or otherwise enhance the features on this map."

Practice Quiz

Registered Penn State students should return now to the Chapter 2 section of the Modules page in Canvas to take a self-assessment quiz about Map Scale.

You may take practice quizzes as many times as you wish. They are not scored and do not affect your grade in any way.

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Students who register for this Penn State course gain access to assignments and instructor feedback, and earn academic credit. Information about Penn State's Online Geospatial Education programs is available at the Geospatial Education Program Office.