Why we love it

Mapping categorical data can be tricky. With 12 overlapping conservation zones in the Arctic, the map, Pinpointing Vulnerabilities: Protecting Regions of the Arctic, posed a serious design challenge. We love the use of a matrix legend to identify important marine areas. We also love how the map author combined color and a hash pattern to define conservation regions and priorities. As a bonus, the map uses a polar projection to show the Arctic as a shared resource surrounded by many countries rather than an isolated place at the tip of the globe. 

Why it works

The Pinpointing Vulnerabilities map works because it exhibits professionally executed cartography. Note the subdued colors and clear presentation of overlapping categories. The author displays an effective and economical use of curved labels—an especially difficult feat on a map that has no single direction pointing upward. Although a story about protecting the Arctic can be complex, the map uses supporting text to unpack the elements of who, what, and where. The fact that this map was created by university students makes it all the more impressive.

Important steps


Tips and tricks

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