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Experiments with line symbology II - Multiplicity

In Part I of this four-part blog post I looked at some basic principles of symbolising coincident lines on a map. In this second part I’ll tackle the issue of disentangling the lines to reveal more. I’m calling this ‘multiplicity’ which really is just a way of expressing the way we might use maps and data visualisations to show multiple pieces of information at the same time.

The short video continues from the previous one and uses the tracklog data from a year of walking our dog, Wisley. In it, I’ll explore how small multiples, and polar area charts (aka coxcombs) can be used to present multiple dimensions at once.

In Part III I’ll be exploring ways to symbolise the intensity of lines across space, and also some more advanced symbolisation techniques to illustrate direction and movement along lines. Part IV deals with animation and movie-making.

In the meantime, happy mapping!

About the author

Ken is an academic cartographer and geographer from the UK, and since 2011 he teaches, talks and writes about cartography, and makes maps to demonstrate map design at Esri. He considers himself a professional 'cartonerd', educated with a Bachelors in cartography and a PhD in GIS and health geography, and over 30 years experience designing curricula, and teaching map design and GIS. He has presented and published an awful lot and is in demand as a panelist and keynote. He blogs (, tweets (@kennethfield), is past Editor of The Cartographic Journal (2005–2014), and past Chair of the ICA Map Design Commission ( 2010-2018). He’s won a few awards for maps, pedagogy and kitchen tile designs. He is author of the best-selling books 'Cartography.' and 'Thematic Mapping' and leads the Esri MOOC on cartography which has been taken by over 200,000 students interested in making better maps. He snowboards, plays drums, builds Lego and supports Nottingham Forest.


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