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Street Names Labeled for Top Down Reading

February 09 2009 | 0 comments

My lessons in cartography suggested that street names should be placed for reading from top to bottom, i.e., the street should be labeled like the text of a book spine sitting on a shelf. Is this rule accurate (it appears in Brewer's Designing Better Maps)? Does this rule hold true for interactive design (.MXDs with rapid zooming in and out)? How is this accomplished in Maplex when annotation is not an option?

Here is what I have tried:
A) A labeling solution using Maplex using "Street Placement". The Orientation option is voided.
B) A labeling solution using Maplex using "Regular Placement". The Orientation Using Regular Placement allows for the label alignment to "align label to direction of line". However, all line directions for the street database are stored so that the flow direction for all roads is south to north. How can all of the lines be flipped in batch? This batch flipping introduces new questions of changing the addressing left and right values. But, if all of the roads are stored opposite of the direction wanted, can there be an option selected to say "Align label to *opposite* direction of line"?
C) Perhaps a solution is none of the above and relates to calculating the geodesic angle to provide parameters for the directionality of the label? This seems necessary if the dataset needs scrubbing to place direction of the line to a given angle.

Where can you help me to begin? Much appreciation.

Mapping Center Answer:

The correct cartographic convention according to Eduard Imhof (Positioning Names on Maps, The American Cartographer, 1975, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 128-144. ) is to place names so that they can be read in the ordinary writing direction from left to right in a clockwise direction around the map. That means that if there is a word that is vertical, on the left side of the map it will be read from bottom to top, but if it is on the rigth side of the map, it will be read from top to bottom -- see the attachment to get a sense of what I mean. So you are right about the reading direction if the label is on the left side of the print map. For online maps that do not have a "left side", all vertical labels should be read from bottom to top, until the label is located near a feature to the east (e.g., a coastline.)

If the feature slopes from the lower left to the upper right, the type should be placed so that it reads bottom to top. If the feature slopes from the upper left to the lower right, the type should be placed so that it reads from the top to the bottom.

For the most part, Maplex follows Imhof's rules so you should not have to do much to force this type placement. Usually it is not a good option to label in the direction of the line - even for rivers - as there are enough instances where doing so would result in type that is upside down that major editing would be required.

So, really, you shouldn't have to do much of anything, especially if you are using Maplex, because this logic is built into the labeling engine for you!

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