Making Maps Easy to Read


Estimating the area of peripheral vision employed for map search. Cartography (the Australian Journal) 12 (2), 1981, 104-107. Full paper as pdf file (341KB).


Rawles, R. E. and Phillips, R. J. (1979). Shepard & Metzler Test Information. Unpublished report. (325K pdf file)

A note on colour area symbols for thematic maps: negative results from two experiments on legend design (325K pdf file)
The reader of a thematic map will often need to match an area of colour on the map with the same colour in the legend. If the colours in the legend are shown against a gray or black background, rather than the normal white background, this will alter their appearance. However, no evidence was found for any affect on the speed or accuracy of matching colours. (Included in 1981 final report.)

The effect of colour on perceived distance with special reference to layer tint maps (336K pdf file)
The perception of depth and distance are both affected by colours- The question arises whether certain line series may be more suitable than others for representing successive height on layer tint maps. A brief review of existing literature on a variety of colour affects shows that no clear conclusions on this topic can yet be drawn. (Included in 1981 final report.)

Distortions in perceived distance resulting from the placing of names on maps (819K pdf file)
The judgement of distance between two points on a map is distorted if the points are labelled with names. The positioning of a name can either increase or decrease the apparent distance according to where it is placed. Three experiments investigated the effect using a line bisection task on a computer generated display. The dimensions of the place name, its proximity to its location spot, and the size of the location spot have little effect on the illusion, but the error increases linearly with the distance between spots over the range investigated (20-90 mm). The presence of contour lines or a grid in the background decreases the illusion. The effect is too small to be a serious hindrance for the map reader. (Included in 1981 final report.)

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Updated 28 January 2008.