Learn basic principles of cartography and map design.
Do the tutorial exercises to learn the basics of ArcMap.
Design and construct a map using provided data.
Submit your assignment to course website.
This assignment is worth 5 points (10% of your
grade), awarded according to the scoring rubric. Your map should adhere
to design principles, contain all appropriate design elements, and
present data accurately.
Task 1: Principles of cartography and map design
Creating maps is one of the most common applications of GIS. A
well-designed map is a powerful communication tool, but it takes
practice and experience to master. You do not need any spatial
analysis techniques for this assignment, but you do need to
understand the core concepts and design principles behind mapmaking
(i.e., cartography). We will discuss these principles in lecture and
lab, and we've posted some readings on the course website. Read
the article from O'Looney, and
focus on key principles—such as map layers, map
elements, visual variables, symbology,and
commonly used map types such as choropleth and cartograms.
Task 2: Tutorials
You will learn the basics of ArcMap to navigate and create maps via
hands-on tutorials in the Law & Collins book. On your own, work
through the exercises in these Law & Collins chapters:
Chapter 3: Interacting with maps
Chapter 7: Symbolizing features (skip 7d—we will do this
during Week 5)
Chapter 8: Classifying features
Chapter 9: Labeling features
Chapter 10: Making maps for presentation
The tutorial files are organized by chapter. Before using a
tutorial chapter folder, copy it from the GTKArcgis
folder in your Windows Explorer Favorites (see ArcGIS setup, part
1) to your H:\ESM263\ folder.
Task 3: Design a map
Design a map of the world that shows demographic information for
Setup: Download the data
file HW1.7z from
the course website.
Extract HW1.7z file into your H:\ESM263
folder. You should have the following structure now:
H:\ESM263: This is your course folder.
H:\ESM263\HW1: This is your assignment
This is the ArcMap layer for the CountryWatch data.
H:\ESM263\HW1\CountryWatch.htm: This is the
This is an ArcGIS database that stores the data.
Create a new ArcMap
document: H:\ESM263\HW1\HW1.mxd (see ArcGIS Setup
Part 2). Open the new map document.
to your map using File → Add Data....
is the metadata for the CountryWatch data—skim the
section titled How does the data set describe geographic
Choose a variable to use for your map from
the variables documented in the metadata. Examples include
energy consumption ENGCONPC97, population density POPDENS00
or greenhouse gas emissions GGAS_EMS98. You may choose
any variable (except for Electricity Consumption!) Use the Attribute
Table of the Countries layer to view the data
in tabular form.
Here is an example map with Title, Legend,
and Acknowledgement elements.
Design a map for your
data while considering these questions:
What is the source(s) for your data?
Who collected the data for your variable? And how?
What are the units of your variable?
If your variable has a value of -99, what does that mean?
What is an appropriate symbology to communicate your data
How will you describe your data in supporting map
elements, such as a legend?
Layout your map to include Title,
Legend, and Acknowledgement elements.
Remember to include your name and your data sources. For your
page layout, use letter paper in landscape mode (11" × 8.5").
Export your map as a PNG
image by using the File → Export map... menu item
and selecting PNG as the file type and HW1.png
as the file name. Use the Options to set your image
resolution to 300 dpi (dots per inch) in the General tab, and
use an 8-bit color palette in the Format tab.
Verify that your PNG file is no larger than
3300 × 2550 pixels (i.e., 11" × 8.5" @ 300 dpi) and no larger
than 10MB in size. Your map image should be clear and readable.
Task 4: Turn-in your assignment
Rename your map image file to include your
full name with proper capitalization and no spaces or
punctuation—e.g., from HW1.png to HW1JamesFrew.png.
Create a submission by uploading your map
image file to the assignment page on the course website
Things to look out for
Design and layout
"No data" symbology should be distinct (and subdued).
When converting to quantile scale, your units change to
Use sequential or divergent color ramps for intervals.
Limit unused layout space—zoom your data and arrange your
Data sources and accuracy
All information on your map should be self-consistent.
Assume (for this course) that your audience is technical and
that your map is going into a technical report, so err on the
side of more detail than less.
Incorrect or missing units—be precise, and adjust your units
Lack of citation detail—be precise, and answer who, what, and
Lack of attention to detail—poor or terse descriptions,
typos, and spelling errors (ArcGIS does not
have a spell checker)
Follow the instructions closely for submitting your
assignment, and name your files accordingly.