Ask A Cartographer

Number of fonts used in a map

March 25 2009 | 1 comment
Categories: Cartographic Design

Is there a rule of thumb limiting the number of different fonts one should use in a single map? In "Designing Better Maps", Cynthia Brewer suggests two; one serif and a complimentary sans serif. This seems a bit limited but I thought I would ask.

Thanks!

Mapping Center Answer:

Definitely yes--follow Dr. Brewer's suggestion.  You might also find TypeBrewer (not a direct relative of Dr. Brewer's) useful as well.  There's an old saying, that roughly goes: excellence in style cannot be taught, i.e., either you've got it, or you don't.  In the end most people don't.  So definitely follow the lead of people, like Dr. Brewer who clearly do.

Learn to design posted by Aileen Buckley on Mar 31 2009 3:12PM
I like to think that people can learn to design well -- to "develop their eye" for design. It takes a lot of practice and experience, and it requires discerning what does "look right". The best way to start is to "copy the masters" -- that is, follow the examples or guidelines of others who either "have" the eye or have developed it -- like Dr. Brewer.

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