Mapping

Cartographic design: Legends

By Aileen Buckley, Mapping Center Lead

Example of items in a legend

We recently received a question about legends on Ask a Cartographer, so I thought we should post a blog describing some of the cartographic guidelines for legends that may help you make decisions about their design.  Here are some tips — first related to page titles and legend titles, then some that are more general, and finally related to grouping items in legends:

Page Titles

Legend Titles

Legend Design Guidelines

When it comes to grouping legend items, if you have a variety of feature types (as on topographic or other reference maps) there are a number of possible solutions:

Cartographic Design Legends - Figure 1

References:

About the author

Dr. Aileen Buckley is a cartographer who’s been at Esri since 2003. She finds and shares best practices for mapping and analysis with ArcGIS, which leads her to publish widely and present world-wide.

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