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Color in Map Design

  • By: Judd Michael Curran
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

One of the principal methods of communicating geographic information is visually on a map. For both two-dimensional paper maps and digital maps displayed on a computer screen, color is often an essential component. The use of color in map design is a method of symbolization where hues, sometimes with varying amounts of saturation and intensity, are employed to symbolize features and differentiate between values for quantitative and qualitative spatial data. A hue is a distinct wavelength of visible light. The purest hues include blue, green, and red. Saturation refers to the amount of color, or hue, displayed on a surface area, and the intensity of color is associated with the brightness of hues. When applied properly, the use of color in maps enables more effective ...

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