Chapter 4: Representing Earth

Maps and map-making are essential components of any geographic information system (GIS). For instance, maps constitute both the input and output of a GIS. Hence a GIS utilizes many concepts and themes from cartography, the formal study of maps, and mapping. Therefore, for us to become proficient with GIS, we need to learn more about cartography, maps, and map-making. The first part of this chapter defines what a map is and describes a few key map types. Next, cartographic or mapping conventions are discussed with particular emphasis placed upon map scale, coordinate systems, and map projections. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the process of map abstraction as it relates to GISs. This chapter provides the foundations for working with, integrating, and making maps with GIS.

Learning Outcomes

  • Define what a map is and to describe reference, thematic, and dynamic maps.
  • Describe the concepts of map scale, coordinate systems, and map projections and how they are central to map-making.
  • Explain the decision-making process behind maps and to underscore the need to be explicit and consistent when creating maps.

Chapter Sections


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Introduction to Geographic Information Systems by R. Adam Dastrup, MA, GISP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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