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Lesson Navigation IconThematic Cartography

Unit Navigation IconIntroduction to thematic cartography

Unit Navigation IconDesign of thematic maps

LO Navigation IconBasic principles

LO Navigation IconBuilding blocks of a thematic map

LO Navigation IconThematic content

LO Navigation IconBase map

LO Navigation IconSummary

Unit Navigation IconPreliminary decisions and questions for the creation of a thematic map

Unit Navigation IconTransformation of statistical data into thematic maps

Unit Navigation IconMapping techniques for thematic maps

LO Navigation IconThematic map using point symbols

LO Navigation IconNetwork maps

LO Navigation IconArea-class maps

LO Navigation IconChoroplethic maps

LO Navigation IconDiagram maps (cartograms referring to a specific point or area)

LO Navigation IconLine and vector related diagram maps

LO Navigation IconIsoline maps

LO Navigation IconDot maps

LO Navigation IconSummary

LO Navigation IconSelf Assessment

Unit Navigation IconSelf Assessment

Unit Navigation IconRecommended Reading

Unit Navigation IconGlossary

Unit Navigation IconBibliography

Unit Navigation IconMetadata

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Thematic map using point symbols


In this type of maps, phenomena are represented by point symbols which are located as accurate as possible regarding their topographic position. Strictly designed maps of this type only show qualitative differences. However, quantitative aspects are often represented by the size of the symbols. The following figure shows an example.

Source: Source: (Spiess 2004)

Point symbols

There is a countless number of different point symbols. Nevertheless, three different types can be distinguished:

  • Geometric symbols
  • Pictographs
  • Letters and numbers

Explanations and examples of thematic maps using point symbols are shown in the following interaction.

Selection of the symbol form

The aim is to design the symbols as small as possible in order to avoid overloading of the map and to allow a highly accurate placement of the symbol. On the other hand the symbol must be large enough in order to provide a good readability which allows the user to recognize symbol variations in its colour and form. The choice of the symbols is closely linked to the purpose, scale and content of the map. The four following rules provide support in the selection process.

Combination of different symbol types

Often different symbol types are used together. The following figure shows an example of a thematic map in which all three symbol types are used. Click on each type to show the corresponding legend.

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