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edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for Cartography:

It has been suggested[edit]

that Map design be merged into this article or section. (Discuss)

Map design is the most important part of cartography. It is a set of methods that help cartographic designers to convey the info to the map user.



where can i find more scans of old maps 03:19, 21 September 2005 (UTC)

What we've got here, as of 28th October 2002, is a section on map projections. So here are a few things we need:

  • A history of cartography
  • A clear explanation of what a map projection is
  • Images would be useful

Can we edit this to either use AD/BC throughout or CE/BCE throughout? I don't know which would be best here EddEdmondson 15:00 Feb 1, 2003 (UTC)

I believe the Wikipedia standard is BC/AD; AD is usually omitted (and is not included in year links). Jorge Stolfi 09:18, 17 Jun 2004 (UTC)

There is a lot missing here. Much needs to be added on trends in the explosion of cartography in the 20th century. I've added a section on "general" vs. "thematic" maps, but a nice treatment of thematic cartography is needed. The cartographers section was limited to Germans - I've added some of the great American names. CCampbell-- 22:44, 16 Jun 2004 (UTC)

BCE as Before Christ Era and AD as Anno Domini are widely used and correct.


B.C. stands for before christ, whereas B.C.E. is a secular twist on that which means before the common era.

J Borkowski 22:24, 24 August 2007 (UTC)

no maps?[edit]

I am astounded that there isn't a photo or .png with this article. Mabye an early nautical map? Cacophony 04:28, Oct 23, 2004 (UTC)

  • I added some. Feydey 21:31, 11 May 2005 (UTC)

History of Cartography[edit]

Do we need a new separate article about the (history/timeline) of (cartography/cartographers/maps/maps of explorers)? Feydey 21:31, 11 May 2005 (UTC)

Map projections?[edit]

So apparently this article used to be just a list of map projections and then the present content was added. That's fine; it's good content; but what if you do want to know about map projections? Shouldn't there at least be a link to that info? – 11 Jul 2005

Added Map Projection to see Also. It seemed to me that it should be there. -- 19:43, 30 August 2005 (UTC)

Map symbols[edit]

Is there a list of common map symbols anywhere on Wikipedia? There's a list of Japanese map symbols, so a more general list might be a good thing to have. AnonMoos 05:52, 26 October 2005 (UTC)

I guess there should also be some information on mapping standards, labeling, etc. that should go along the the legend (symbols). --Ant 20:52, 26 October 2005 (UTC)

History additions[edit]

The recent additions to the history section contain obvious clues to a possible cut -n- paste copyvio. I have asked the anon for reference/source info. - Vsmith 15:52, 11 December 2005 (UTC)


"It is unclear if he ever produced a map of the world according to his specifications, but if he did we have yet to find it."
(next to the picture of Muhammad al-Idrisi's world map)
I am not entirely familiar with Wikipedia guidelines on this, but shouldn't it be "It has yet to be found" instead of "we have yet to find it" as saying "we" would be none neutral? --illumi 18:09, 5 January 2006 (UTC)
Go ahead and rephrase then. Better yet, change "but if he did" to "since" or "because" for simplicity. =] //Big Adamsky 18:29, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

New Histoy[edit]

The most recent history section has obvious signs of plagiarism. Such as "in this chapter" and many other numerous signs. Also the page has lost some content such as Stabo and Geogrophika.

This was a part of the honours paper for my BA.

And yes, the page has lost some content about Stabo and Geogrophika because it was a BS.


Extend, kind of[edit]

1. Fishy sounding sentence: Extend of the current maps are always kind of...

2. Fishy also:

For example the 1:24,000 scale topographic maps of the United
States Geological Survey (USGS) are a standard as compared to the 1:50,000 scale
Canadian maps.

3. part of this article should be split out into a seperate place names article.

4. mention about maps being seen as top secret even up till today in many countries. Or yes you can have a map, but no coordinates allowed on the edges.


Western bias?[edit]

Information about historically significant map-making in the greater Persian, Indian, and Chinese regions of influence is completely missing from this article. It would seem reasonable to add some of this material between the Greek and European sub-sections. Thoughts?
Thanks, – Argon233TC @  00:38, 11 May 2006 (UTC)

I have added some Chinese and Islamic content to the new History of Cartography page but more views are needed. HMAccount

Objective Reality?[edit]

I eliminated the term "object reality" from the opening of the article because maps do not necessarily derive from objective reality. The statement, "Spatial data is acquired from measurement and can be stored in a database, from which it can be extracted for a variety of purposes," perfectly describes the map-making process without appealing to objective reality. The measurements that cartographers use aren't necessarily "objective". Objective reality is a philosophical interpretation of the end product, not a premise necessary to derive that product.


The verbiage you removed doesn't claim that reality is objective. It only claims that cartographic theory sets objective reality as an axiom and develops from there. I reverted the edit.

Strebe 08:27, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

Then you need a citation that shows that all cartographers must use "objective reality" as an axiom. Otherwise such a strong philosophical claim needs to be qualified with "Some cartographers believe ..." or something to that extent. This would also need a citation. However, I stick by my original assertion that the only axioms necessary for cartography are that the world is measurable and those measurements may be represented symbolically for the purposes of storage, retrieval, and interpretation.

Dhskep 23:33, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

I have given you over a week to provide a direct citation, which you have not. I removed the sentence.

Dhskep 19:20, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

You have given me. Well, isn't that magnanimous of you. What exactly does a week have to do with anything? The only reason I reverted your edit is because your comment was fallacious. You're wandering around demanding citations without bothering to supply any of your own, you're setting deadlines, and now you've completely removed the (very long) sentence that you originally only slightly modified. Well, good riddance, I say; that sentence was out of context anyway and the philosophical nuances were unrelated to the topic.

Strebe 23:51, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

Hmm... I like the world is measurable... and have added that bit. Please note that there are no references given specifically for anything in the intro - although many of the refs listed likely apply. Is that a reason to simply delete the whole intro? Vsmith 00:29, 8 June 2006 (UTC)

Strebe - Sorry if that came off a bit arrogant, but the fact is I could have just removed it on the spot. I didn't wan to start an edit war. So I gave you over a week because I felt that was an appropriate amount of time to allow you to find whatever source you felt justified the sentence. Furthermore, my original point is that it is NOT a self-evident axiom. In that case, it is either an uncited opinion or original research, neither of which are tolerable. Also, how can I supply a citation to a challenge of a word? If you are going to assert a point, then you have the burden of proof. If, however, I wrote in the article that "objective reality" was in dispute, then and only then would I have the burden of proof. Finally, my first modification was minimal to be polite. My second modification was complete removal because the sentence was unnecessary and out of place in addition to being unsupported.

Vsmith - Of course, I don't think that all uncited sentences should be removed ... yet. The point is, we need to be striving to cite everything. The best articles on Wikipedia do. I, personally, found the sentence in question to be the most egregious because it mentions fundamental axioms. I think the new sentence is much more appropriate. However, since it is an axiom, we should try and cite it.

Dhskep 04:07, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

I don't think it is an axiom - if I drew a map of the world far enough back in history and wrote 'here be dragons' I would not be trying to provide objective reality, or if I tried to make my country look more important and imposing to intimidate rivals or impress the king, that would not be striving for objective reality. But the map itself would still fit with this description 'Spatial data is acquired from measurement and can be stored in a database, from which it can be extracted for a variety of purposes'. The variety of purpose in this case being to impress the king and to hide my ignorance. EdwardLane (talk) 12:54, 22 June 2011 (UTC)

The statement was not that maps are objective or that they portray reality objectively; the statement was that the enterprise of mapping assumes there is an objective reality to map. Strebe (talk) 17:16, 22 June 2011 (UTC)

Map date incorrect[edit]

There is no way that the map "Mercator world map Nova et Aucta Orbis Terrae Descriptio ad Usum Navigatium Emendate", shown in the Europe section, is from 1569. North America was just being discovered, and this kind of detail would not be possible. Also, note that the Baja California is considered a peninsula. Many cartographers believed this to be an island for much of the 16th century and beyond. Also, note that Antartica is displayed in near-perfection in the bottom left corner. Yes, they did believe there was an antarctica, but nobody actually even SAW Antarctica until the 19th century, so how could any cartographer in the 16th century have such a good idea of what it looks like?

The source page's detailed picture [1] gives the datum as 1569. Antarctica is just a guess by the cartographers of that era (and not even a good one). See Francisco de Ulloa for the discovery of Baja California peninsula in 1539. See also [2] for a simpler version of the mercator map from the same year with the date also clearly visible. Hope this validates the year. feydey 19:36, 16 June 2006 (UTC)

There is no controversy over the date of the map. There are dozens of world maps from the period with similar detail. North America had been undergoing European exploration for 75 years by that time with very competitive motivations. Coastlines are the first to get explored. The myth of the island of California did not gain currency until later – about 1650; before that it was invariably shown as a peninsula. Antarctica's shape is nowhere near "perfection", but even more importantly, it's shown many times larger than reality. The Terra Australis myth derives from medieval cosmology requiring the hemispheres to be balanced in land extent. Since no Europeans (or much of anyone, for that matter) had ever visited the area, it was easy to draw what "must" logically be there. Strebe 23:45, 16 June 2006 (UTC)

New History of Cartography page[edit]

I've created a new page called History of Cartography and moved the history section from this page over there. HMAccount 23:49, 20 June 2006 (UTC)

Lambert cylindrical equal-area projection[edit]

The article linked to in the header sure could use more content. Any offers :) Stefán Ingi 21:07, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

Pictorial maps[edit]

I added a link in "See Also" to a new page I just created on the subject of pictorial maps.

Magnetic storage[edit]

It's not just magnetic storage anymore. Electronic data used to be stored only on magnetic media - like hard disks - but the range of storage devices now includes a lot of non-magnetic media.

Naming conventions[edit]

This section was not really about cartography but rather on placename etymology and toponymy. The anecdotes about explorers asking natives "in a loud voice" about a placename are not about making maps. The fact that places on the coast of Brazil are often named after saints also seems to have little to do with making maps. Those things are better suited for the toponymy page. I wanted to keep the story about Nome, Alaska, except correcting it to being a map reading error – was "Name?" on a survey chart for a cape with no name, which was misread as Nome and labeled as Cape Nome on later maps – I even have a reference for that! But alas, it too doesn't really belong on this page but perhaps over on toponymy or placename etymology. So I kept little or none of the original text – sorry to whoever wrote it! Instead I tried to write a bit about the issues of labeling places on maps that cartographers actually face. Although most of what I wrote is (or should be) common knowledge, I still added a reference, since I used it as a guide for writing this bit. Its an appendix in one of Rand NcNally's better atlases. The atlas is one of my favorites but seems to be out of print. I tried to add an ISBN number to the citation, but the atlas only has an "SBN" number, which didn't take. I will try to find its real ISBN and add it. I particularly like this atlas because it labels places in both English and in the local language (transcribed into the Latin alphabet). Like, on the map of North Africa, the Mediterranean Sea is also labeled Al Bahr al-Mutawassit, while the France map page has it "Mer Méditerranée". That's why there is an appendix section on this topic. ..anyway, just wanted to explain my wholesale deletion and rewriting of a section! Pfly 20:31, 9 February 2007 (UTC)


An editor keeps trying to add the following text:

From before the Age of Exploration when the Moors dominated European knowledge, the famous Muhammad al-Idrisi (Arabic: أبو عبد الله محمد الإدريسي; b.1100-d.1165 or 1166) was the prime cartographer that transformed the maps that were to be used between the 15th century to the 17th century...

This edit is tendentious, controversial, hyperbolic, and poorly structured. It's impossible to claim something like "Moors dominated European knowledge" without expecting serious rebuttals. It's also not allowed without citations. "Famous" is an expletive here. It's not clear what the editor intended with "...who tranformed the maps that were to be used between the 15th century to the 17th century". What does that mean? Does it mean al-Idrisi's cartography influenced maps of those periods? If so, again, it needs a citation and probably a description of how, since it's not at all apparent. The citation supplied by the editor (a link to the al-Idrisi page) does not support the edit except in the vaguest sense of al-Idrisi having been important in cartography during the European Middle Ages.

al-Idrisi's important contributions do need to be acknowledged in the text. I'm not qualified to do that, so I'm not going to try to fix the edit. Strebe 21:04, 11 May 2007 (UTC)

About additions to the history section on the contributions of al Idrisi[edit]

Editing the history of Cartography were good and varifiable they were coherent and varifiable source to the Cartography heading on internal links were provided to other wikipedia articles varifying his contributions. About the Moors intellectual dominance? if they weren't then who was in the Christian dark ages i thought that was the meaning of the dark ages when the rest of Europe was in the dark. Was there a need to re-edit this addition:

From before the Age of Exploration when the Moors dominated European knowledge, the famous Muhammad al-Idrisi (Arabic: أبو عبد الله محمد الإدريسي; b.1100-d.1165 or 1166) was the prime cartographer that transformed the maps that were to be used between the 15th century to the 17th century...

indeed it added more value to the article. References for the information on contributions on European transformation can be found in many books such as "the Ornament of the World" by Maria Rosa Menocal this information can also be varified by many other sources. I would have thought Wikipedia as a resource for an up to date encyclopeadia rather than an out of date one. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 12:18, 16 May 2007 (UTC).

symbolization vs. symbology[edit]

symbology is a more accurate word with relation to cartography, which describes the way in which symbols are chosen and used to create effective maps. though certainly not exclusive to this area, it is a common word in cartographic vocabulary, and furthermore connotes logic, knowing, and thought. on the other hand, symbolization does not necessarily relate to cartography and could be misleading by referring to other cognitive processes. see symbol. —Preceding unsigned comment added by J Borkowski (talkcontribs) 22:42, August 24, 2007 (UTC)


Orienteering is a Good Article nominee, here, and awaiting review. Please consider reviewing the article. --Una Smith (talk) 21:41, 13 May 2008 (UTC)

Wider meaning?[edit]

Hi from Germany. I was of the opinion that in English language, the term Cartography comprises more than just "drawing maps" (sorry for this simplification), namely the whole process which leads to a map, thus encompassing geodesy or surveying as well. Is this so, or has it ever been? Where can I find more about this? Thanks, Wschroedter (talk) 10:17, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

"Cartography" in modern North American English refers both to the practice of mapmaking and to the academic study of mapmaking. While there are no sharp boundaries in the definition, it generally does not include geodesy, surveying, or even "geographical information science" (GIS). This restrictive meaning is evident in the curricula of cartography departments in universities as well as in the purviews of the cartographic societies: North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS:, Cartographic and Geographic Information Society (CaGIS:, and the Canadian Cartographic Association (CCA: None of those organizations or university departments embraces geodesy or photogrammetry, and all of them specifically distinguishes between "cartography" and "Geographic Information Science".

"Cartography" is a fairly young word, coming into use in the late 1800s. Hence the term has no long history to talk about. The histories of cartography and surveying generally have been treated quite distinctly. Sorry; I can't provide references at the moment, but if you refer to cartographic texts spanning the 20th century, you will find only passing references to geodesy. Strebe (talk) 22:18, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

Mapping political boundary lines[edit]

It must be bewildering for world atlas publishers to clearly define and draw borders between countries, particulatly in the part of Africa along the Red Sea. May I cite the area that includes Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, and Djibouti. This area has had so many border wars and civil wars that the map publishers can't keep up with the changes. This situation has political, military, humanitarian, and religious connections. Other factors are poverty, famine, lack of education, crime, and sometimes mass slaughter of the indigent.

Yes, you can by a nice, colorful world atlas at a book store but there's no guarantee that international border lines will be accurate henceforth.

Musicwriter (talk) 17:38, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

No mention for Analytical or Mathematical Cartography[edit]

I am surprised that there is not a single sentence regarding Analytical (or mathematical) cartography which is considered as the application of mathematical theories in cartography ( the father of AC is by many considered to be Professor Waldo Tobler in the 1960s). In the last 50 years or so, analytical cartography has included topics such as map projections, generalization algorithms, digital terrain modelling and hillshading, automatic placement of placenames and labels, geometric transformations, cartometry, etc. Some may say that all these topics are now part of the Geographic information science (I personally disagree), although the Wikipedia article mentions Cartography as a general topic...So is AC left out on purpose, or is it just lack of references and related info? Any thoughts or ideas?VRChriss (talk) 16:29, 23 October 2011 (UTC)

Analytical and mathematical cartography certainly are not left out on purpose. The article is not in very good shape. This being Wikipedia, please improve it! Strebe (talk) 18:53, 23 October 2011 (UTC)
  • You are right, the section on map projections is quite modest and the expressions you mention are not even referred to . Anyway, there is a whole article on Map Projections, where the general concepts of the discipline are addressed. I wouldn't say that Tobler is the father of mathematical cartography, he only proposed the expression AC as a replacement for MC. I wonder if he still uses it himself? Like Strebe says the article can be improved by anyone and I know a couple of users perfectly capable of doing it. Alvesgaspar (talk) 19:24, 23 October 2011 (UTC)
OK, I thought as much, thank you both. FYI I can write the entry for Mathematical /Analytical Cartography.VRChriss (talk) 10:36, 24 October 2011 (UTC)