Thursday, August 7, 2008

Mapping Tips for Newspapers and the Black and White Map

Newsprint is not the most favorable medium for reproducing maps and the cartographic quality most often found lacks for a certain "understandability" as a result. As we head into this season of politics, here are some tips for newspapers just in case they haven't figured it out yet:

  1. If you have to use black and white for maps, limit the thematic categories to only three. While you think the human eye can differentiate more shades of gray, you would be hard pressed to convince an 70-year old lady of that fact.
  2. Even if you use three shades of gray, it might help to use a thicker black border on boundary or polygon data for that third category, just to make certain of the differentiation. (The Wall Street Journal used a map in today's edition (page A9) to show the Democrat's southern strategy and they were well advised to use this heavy black line when using just two themes.)
  3. Know your street classifications. Don't get carried away with too much detail on showing the finest details of residential streets. It just obscures other features especially if streets are only there for reference.

    That's it for now...more to come in future posts.

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