Assignment 1: Cartography
ESM 263 (Frew), Winter 2018
Due at 8:00 am on Monday, 29 January
- 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
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
folder in your Windows Explorer Favorites (see ArcGIS
setup, part 1) to your
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.
HW1.7z file into your
folder. You should have the following structure now:
H:\ESM263: This is your course folder.
H:\ESM263\HW1: This is your assignment
H:\ESM263\HW1\CountryWatch.lyr: This is the
ArcMap layer for the CountryWatch data.
H:\ESM263\HW1\CountryWatch.htm: This is the
H:\ESM263\HW1\HW1.gdb: This is an ArcGIS
database that stores the data.
- Create a new ArcMap document:
Setup Part 2). Open the new map document.
CountryWatch.lyr to your
map using File → Add Data....
CountryWatch.htm. This 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
- 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
- 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
- Follow the instructions closely for submitting your
assignment, and name your files accordingly.
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