Wikipedia:WikiProject Maps/Conventions/US locations

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Example of a currently published locator map (for Phoenix, Arizona) that follows the conventions of WikiProjects Maps and the standards outlined here.

This WikiProject exists to formally update and standardize locator maps in the infoboxes of the various wiki articles for cities, towns and other inhabited places in the United States of America. The function of these locator maps is to give a geophysical context of the bounds of these areas as defined by defined city limits in the case of incorporated polities or by given U.S. Census data in the case of populated areas with no local government.


In a given Wikipedia article for a city, town or other form of population center, there will usually be included an infobox containing relevant information about the area; population statistics, government representation, et al. There will sometimes also be a photograph of the skyline of the area, but almost always there will be a map showing the location of the area in a larger context (County, province, administrative division, state, et cetera.)

Traditionally, such articles for cities and towns in the United States featured a simple dot locator map (Example here [1].) Starting in the mid to late 2000s, more detailed maps began to appear, however the maps were usually only consistent within one state or region. Issues arose with representations of locator maps based on certain regional contexts that did not fit in other regions of the nation due to legal and historical differences, so the discrepancies were never adequately resolved. Criticisms of the new maps also began to be pointed out, necessitating resolution of the issues raised. Still today, it is easy to find articles for cities linked geographically that have locator maps that are quite different (Examples here: Texarkana, TX vs Texarkana, AR, Gary, IN vs Chicago, IL, Baton Rouge, LA vs New Orleans, LA.)

Discussion of appropriate solutions has taken place on other WikiProject talk pages, but the most recent as of the creation of this WikiProject page can be found here [2].


This project was set up to develop and agree upon a unified standard for locator maps on articles for all cities, towns and localities in the United States and also to facilitate the creation, standardization and publication of such maps into the appropriate city articles. A further goal is to develop a method for updating such maps based on new data, particularly from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Map Standards[edit]

Sample map generated by Shereth's automated script, showing Maricopa County, Arizona.

The current tentative standards are as follows. Locator maps will be scalable vector graphic (.svg) files displaying the county/parish/county-equivalent in which the area is primarily located, along with a smaller inset map outlining the county's location in the state. The specific area of interest in the article will be highlighted or encircled to outline location information within the county. Incorporated areas will be shown as gray areas with black boundaries to indicate territory incorporated and unincorporated areas will be shown as black boundaries only. Among current issues to discuss will be what areas are defined as "incorporated" versus "unincorporated", as these definitions vary from state to state.

The locator maps should fit within the defined mapping conventions outlined by WikiProject Maps. As such, the majority of current maps are inadequate. A Wikipedia contributor, Shereth has devised a method to parse freely available U.S. Census data and generate nearly complete locator maps for every city, town, CDP and other locality as defined by the Census that conform to the mapping standards and only require a small bit of manual editing work to create fully publishable files. An additional goal of this project is to standardize this manual editing process so as to generate consistent location maps for all U.S. city articles across the various Wikipedia sites.

A technical description of the layout of the map files being used for this project is available here.


A set of conventions for US Location maps is proposed, using the conventions for other location maps as specified here. The goal in using a similar convention is to increase the amount of standardization in all maps across Wikimedia sites.

US location maps guidelines
Subject Colorimetry (RGB/hex) Line thickness
State and national borders
R:0 V:0 B:0
3 pixels
County borders
R:0 V:0 B:0
2 pixels
Place (city/town/village/CDP)
R:100 V:100 B:100
2 pixels
Area of subject county
R:254 V:254 B:233
Area of neighboring counties
R:246 V:225 B:185
Outside area (international)
R:224 V:224 B:224
Area of incorporated places
R:228 V:228 B:209
Area of unincorporated places transparent
Border of highlighted place
R:224 V:88 B:78
1 pixel
Area of highlighted place
R:176 V:0 B:0
Locator circle
R:176 V:0 B:0
2 pixels
Border of water features
R:9 V:120 B:171
1 pixel
Area of water features
R:198 V:236 B:255
Primary roads
R:255 V:228 B:0
1.5 pixels
Primary roads border
R:197 V:146 B:102
0.75 pixels
Secondary roads
R:197 V:146 B:102
1.2 pixels
Secondary roads border
R:0 V:0 B:0
0.2 pixels

Naming (upload):

  • File:{County name} County {State name} incorporated and unincorporated places.svg for base county maps
  • File:{County name} County {State name} incorporated and unincorporated places {Place name} highlighted.svg for place highlight maps


This WikiProject page is brand new and thus incomplete. Be bold, edit and add to it, and discuss relevant issues on the talk page. Thanks for your interest!



Main tool page:
  • Reflinks - Edits bare references - adds title/dates etc. to bare references
  • Checklinks - Edit and repair external links
  • Dab solver - Quickly resolve ambiguous links.
  • Peer reviewer - Provides hints and suggestion to improving articles.

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