The Nature of Geographic Information

7. Scale as a Verb


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."

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