Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Diagrams and maps

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The following are [draft] Wikipedia guidelines for the use of diagrams and maps in articles.

Diagrams (including charts) and maps are valuable additions to Wikipedia pages when they fulfil these criteria:

  • They give an explicit presentation that is directly relevant to the subject of the article(s) in which they appear[clarification needed]
  • They are fully consistent with, and support, the surrounding text[clarification needed]
  • Their style and density of information are chosen to appeal to a general reader[clarification needed]

Other qualities such as being entertaining, "eye-candy", startling or artistically rendered do not compensate for lacks in the above criteria. Avoid chartjunk.


Such images must adhere to Wikipedia:Image use policy, like any other. In particular, do not violate copyright by using all or portions of a diagram or map published in another source. Instead create a new one, presenting the information germane to the Wikipedia article(s) the image is intended for.

For diagrams of chemical structures, see Wikipedia:WikiProject Chemistry/Structure drawing for guidance. [There are probably others that could be pointed to here.]

For maps, where possible use the blank map images available at Wikipedia:Blank maps when producing new maps. See also the WikiMedia Commons Project Mapmaking Standards and its talk page.

File formats and uploading[edit]

It is preferable that diagrams and maps be saved in the SVG file format. This is an open standard for vector image files. If saving the image as a raster graphic, the PNG file format is generally preferred, though JPEG is acceptable. Very simple animations can be saved in the GIF file format. Other formats are strongly deprecated.

Upload your finished image to WikiMedia Commons, giving the image an appropriate, descripive filename that can be understood at a glance. Categorize it appropriately (it may be helpful to look at the pages of other, similar diagram or map images in Commons to see how they are categorized).


When possible, use tables rather than diagrams to present simple tabular data, and use mathematical markup to produce formulas.

Avoid making a diagram or map so dense that it reduces readability or comprehensibility. On the other hand, diagrams should avoid the inclusion of big areas of empty, non-informative space inside the image.

Maps should present necessary geographic details, not every possible detail. The level of detail on a map should be selected so as to make the map useful to experts familiar with the subject, and also to users who are not at all familiar with it. Some information that an expert may not deem necessary might be necessary to others. For example, those with a geographical knowledge of Europe may not need to have neighbouring countries marked on a map of France, although this feature could be useful to those unfamiliar with the continent.

Maps showing a small geographic area should also have an inset locator map, locating that small geographic area in the context of a larger area, such as a continent or island chain. For example, see this map.

Avoid blank space in the image around its main content to give the illusion of a margin around the image. Wikipedia's image displaying code already handles spacing of images in relation to text and other images. A thin black border may be desirable as an element of the image itself, however, especially if the image is predominantly white or near-white.


The Wikimedia renderer only knows specific, free fonts, a list of which can be found here. Other, non-free fonts such as Arial, Verdana, Helvetica etc. are replaced by a similar one.


Diagrams and maps should not include the image title (e.g. "Map of Azerbaijan", "Timeline of Events", etc.) in the image itself. The title is given in the article with the image caption feature and in the image filename, so having the title inside the image is redundant.

In general, labels of items within the diagram or map should use headline style, in which most words are capitalized. To quote the Chicago Manual of Style, 14th Edition:

In regular title capitalization, also known as headline style, the first and last words and all nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and subordinating conjunctions (if, because, as, that, etc.) are capitalized. Articles (a, an, the), coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, for, nor), and prepositions, regardless of length, are lowercased unless they are the first or last word of the title...

In maps, bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, and oceans should be labeled in italics. Many map makers use a dark blue for the font. [More recommendations are needed. Should capital cities be bold? Regions in Small Caps? What about use of letter and word spacing? Serif font? Etc.]

When inserting an image into an article, consider using the {{legend}} template to include a legend in the image caption.


When considering what colors to use in diagrams and maps, try to use colors that are subtle and pleasant rather than bold and garish. Also, try to avoid using colors in a way that would cause difficulty for those with color blindness or black-and-white monitors. Try viewing your image in greyscale to see if neighboring or overlapping colors could be indistinguishable to some.

Colors in maps[edit]

The following colors are recommended for use in creating basic maps.

Convention for locator maps (see more).
Subject Colorimetry (RGB/hex)
Toponymes (names)
R:0 V:0 B:0
Major political borders. Country, state, and province borders.
R:160 V:128 B:112
Other minor political borders.
R:208 V:192 B:160
Territory of interest.
R:255 V:255 B:208
Surrounding territories.
R:247 V:211 B:170
Bodies of water, oceans or lakes.
R:158 V:199 B:243
Lake or ocean's coasts, rivers, if necessary.
R:24 V:33 B:222

Naming (upload):

  • File:{Subject name in English} locator map (blank).svg (for template map)
Convention for Area maps (see more).
Subject Colorimetry (RGB/hex)
Point of interest (cities especially).
R:176 V:0 B:0
Area of interest (species range, etc).
R:240 V:117 B:104
Border colour for areas of interest.
R:224 V:88 B:78
Parks or natural preservation areas.
R:160 V:240 B:144
Maps with opposite groups[1]
Color n⁰1, opacity 100 or 40%:
R:228 V:26 B:28
Color n⁰2, opacity 100 or 40%:
R:77 V:175 B:74
Color n⁰3, opacity 100 or 40%:
R:152 V:78 B:163
Color n⁰4, opacity 100 or 40%:
R:255 V:127 B:0
Color n⁰5, opacity 100 or 40% (/!\ may conflict with water bodies):
R:55 V:126 B:184
Color n⁰6, opacity 100 or 40%:
R:255 V:255 B:51
Color n⁰7, opacity 100 or 40%:
R:166 V:86 B:40

Naming (upload):

  • File:{Subject name in English} locator map.svg (or png, for locator maps)
  • File:{Subject name in English} map.svg (or png)

For species, use the binominal name. For others, use the English wiki article title. If needed, add just after the subject name the section's name, the year, etc.

Colours: A maximum of four colours is required for complex multi-color area maps (see Four color theorem).


  1. ^ Source: > Qualitative scale > Set 1

References, projection and scale[edit]

Like articles, all maps and diagrams should include a complete set of references (see Wikipedia:Verifiability). For maps, the image page should also include information on the map projection.

Except for the largest maps, maps should include a scale.

See also[edit]