ArcGIS Online

Choose similar colors to map similar things

Choosing colors might be the hardest part of mapmaking. At least I find it challenging. A trick I often use to make this part of cartography easier is to choose similar colors to represent similar things and different colors to represent different things. People naturally assume that things that look similar are similar, and you can use this assumption to your advantage to make a more intuitive map.

I thought I’d make a video about this technique, but I had too many examples of how helpful it can be, so I ended up with three videos instead! In them, I use both ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Online to demonstrate the power of color matching in maps.

All of the data in these videos is from Halifax Open Data:

Follow along with the map:

Follow along with the map:

Follow along with the map in ArcGIS Online:

Follow along with the map in ArcGIS Pro:

Learn more

You can find more map-making skills on the Quick Cartography playlist, and on the Introduction to Cartography site.

Cartography resources

About the author

Heather is a cartographer and artist. She creates resources for the tutorial gallery.

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