suggestions to improve map
I would appreciate your feedback on my map (i.e. symbols, colors, etc) and how I could make it look better. I am using a BING base map with several of our layers overlaid. I used cartographic representation for the ramps and the ramp toll locations so these features could be viewed at this scale. I also created a 1,000 foot buffer around our entire roadway to create a background that would allow our ramps and toll locations to stand out more. The attached PDF map does not looks that great but you should be able to get the idea of the map.
Mapping Center Answer:
The first thing to establish with any map is what is its purpose and function - and how rapidly can the map reader work this out. The title is crucial and I think you could provide a title that explains the map detail more suitably. So what is the map's message? What do you want it to show? This should allow you to phrase a title that focuses the user to the important message the map contains.
You may also want to consider the sheer quantity of detail you have on the map. For instance, are all the smaller roads necessary or is the map mostly about showing the major highways and intersections? Anything you can do to make the map less clutterred without detracting from the map's message will improve legibility and visibility. This also relates to road labels - again, do you need them all?
I would also encourage you to think more about the figure-ground and visual contrast in your map. These two go hand-in-hand. Firstly, does the important detail in your map stand out as figural against the background? Secondly, can you establish greater contrast between map layers to improve this? The more you can separate layers into figure and ground the easier it is for people to read the map and understand what it is that is most important. One way you could do this is do de-clutter the background (the previous point). Another way would be to apply some transparency to the background or use lighter colors.
I hope this helps. The important thing here is to think critically about your own map and to be able to evaluate your own work. We are in the process of putting together a range of resources to help people with this important part of map-making. Look out for blog posts on the Mapping Center web site, articles in ArcUser, a downloadable checklist and also sessions at this year's User Conference.
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