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Map page size and dimensions

July 04 2007 | 0 comments

Hi! Is there some rule or tradition about the size or dimension for printed maps? Is it
recommended to follow some standart, like A# ? I was thinkg about making a panel map with 150cm
heigh and 84cm width. But I'm afraid to cause some discomfort to the user...

Mapping Center Answer:

First, from an economic standpoint: paper is produced in standard sizes, but the standards differ from country to country (in the U.S., ANSI A, B, C, D, E & legal are most common; in Europe, A1, A2, B1, B2, etc.; and I don’t honestly know about Brazil). So, first look at what is locally available.

From the cartographic standpoint cartographic design should play a dominant role; after all, the map has to work, i.e., fulfill its intended purpose. Most people paying for maps will want the smallest possible size of map that works. It’s up to the mapmaker to figure out how to design a cartographically viable and economically feasible map.

As for tradition, well, this varies locally, like paper size. Notice that many country’s standard topographic maps are not produced using standard paper sizes. This used to work well because the governments were printing huge quantities and in doing so, they effectively realized the same cost savings as using standard paper sizes. Today, nearly anybody can make a map, but very few people are mass producing maps to the point where costs related to paper size are a non-factor.

That said, the readers of your map will have expectations, if you’re doing a map that looks, to a large degree, like a traditional map product then using the traditional paper size is likely to be a good idea as it lends a sense of authority to your map. That can backfire too—if your map design is not nearly as refined or well done as the original product, yours will look like a cheap knock off. Get the opinions of others, particularly those who don’t a vested interest in your ongoing happiness, i.e., unafraid to tell you the truth if it’s needed. Depending on your printer or whoever is printing the map, you might set the map up to use the next larger standard page size and just have the sheets cut to final dimension rather than trying to make a sheet-feeder work consistently—you’ll have to ask or try it yourself.

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