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View Full Version : How to display place names for a map?



guyanonymous
03-18-2009, 02:01 PM
I'm trying to decide how best to display the names of countries and capitals on my map.

Being a world map with lots of locales, it would be both a tight fit and unreadable at less than full resolution if I labeled things directly on the map.

I'm thinking of orienting things like so:


_________________________________
| ______________________________ |
| | | |
| | | |
| | | |
| | map itself | |
| | (w coord) | |
| | | |
| | | |
| | | |
| |____________________________| |
| |
| xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx |
| xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx |
| xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx |
| xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx |
| xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx |
| xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx |
|________________________________|

Where xxxxxxxx is something like "a-b City of Country" (a-b is the coordinates).

Any thoughts? Alternate suggestions? There are ~ 100 countries on the map.

guyanonymous
03-18-2009, 02:04 PM
well, I'm giving up trying to get hte spacing to work....silly editor removes/adds spaces...argh.

Think a map at the top of a vertical/square page, with columns below showing the cities/coordinates.

RobA
03-18-2009, 02:36 PM
well, I'm giving up trying to get hte spacing to work....silly editor removes/adds spaces...argh.

Fixed your ascii diagram.

-Rob A>

Chaosorcerer
03-18-2009, 02:45 PM
Would it be an idea to give every city a number, an then naming those outside the map?
I would find it very irritating to constantly have to look at the x- and y-axis...


Like: (see attachment)

jfrazierjr
03-18-2009, 03:48 PM
Another option is to have pointer indexed grids the way many city maps do. So.. you have an index that has information pertaining to the stuff in cell B10 for example. Only good for certain types of maps IMHO, but I wanted to post it as an option.

RobA
03-18-2009, 04:03 PM
...or print out a whole series of transparency sheets that you can overlay to show the locations... kind of a map "secret decoder ring"...

(Sorry, had some silly pills this morning...)

-Rob A>

guyanonymous
03-18-2009, 06:51 PM
Thanks for the quick responses... (and for fixing my diagram!)

I thought about numbering as well as the coordinate system (think a fold up map that you keep in your car as, I believe jfrazierjr is suggesting) and settled on the second method for how I like to look at maps...but that's not how all people do.

I was thinking that most of the time I might be looking for a specific place on the map by name, as opposed to looking at a point on the map and trying to figure out the name. The coordinate system vs. the numbers on the map system....sigh :D Trade-offs.

Not quite perfect though is it....I'd have to have two lists below one sorted alphabetically, the other by coordinate....or continent.ooor...[/head exploding]

Kingbreaker
03-18-2009, 09:44 PM
If you look at historic maps used for navigation, they just crowd the labels in, legibillity be damned :)

guyanonymous
03-18-2009, 10:21 PM
:D thanks for the evening's laugh! :D

Gamerprinter
03-18-2009, 11:20 PM
I'm old fashioned I place the nation names and city names right onto their locations on the map. I tend to avoid having too many cities in the nations I map, rather only going for the biggest cities so there should only be a few or just one per nation.

I find cross-referencing between a numbered location to a list of city names as too complicated for me and the viewers to my maps.

As Kingbreaker says, the old maps were this way, why should I be any different. If you look at most atlases, every town, city, county, state, are all labeled right at their locations.

Can it become too crowded? Of course, but I say, "tough, live with it!"

Dungeon maps are different though, in that you don't want a label to get in the way of what your characters see, so I accept those using numbers that are cross referenced to a descriptive list, which makes sense.

For world or regional maps, I say put the label where it belongs.

GP

PS: for an exceptional map done by a pro for a WotC's Cormyr that is labeled the old fashioned way and perhaps "overly" labeled (which was necessary for this commission), check out this map:
http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=3093

I would have done the same thing myself.

Steel General
03-19-2009, 08:09 AM
I think as long as you pick a legible font, "crowding in" the place/name labels is fine. But having a numbered key or grid system is OK too.

guyanonymous
03-19-2009, 12:24 PM
In my core areas, space is too much of a premium to label several of the countries when the entire world is visible (and that's at 20"x30") if I actually want it legible.

I'm thinking of breaking things down to 5 maps - one for each continent.

Redrobes
03-19-2009, 06:43 PM
Is this a printed map or something to look at on a monitor or both ? Because readability of print is much better than monitor so you could get small text in there.

Talroth
03-19-2009, 07:01 PM
How are you creating your maps, and how are you viewing them?

Personally, I'm a fan of doing over view maps, label the largest and most important cities and regions. Then make sets of sub maps for more detail and avoid crowding. I personally like this as I like detail.

Also, while you might not label the names of towns and villages, I find it useful to at least put a small icon, a circle or square or something simple to mark two or three 'levels' of detail below what you are actually labeling.

guyanonymous
03-19-2009, 08:07 PM
Right now it's an overview of the entire world.

I've come (almost) to the conclusion that I'll use sub maps for each continent, and then, following that, for each country itself.

Here's a "scale" pdf of my map. Each 8x11 page will tile with the others to give you "life size". Even at this size, the labeling is a too tight (for me) for several of the small countries.

And to think, I picked the easy world-building project to do first.

ravells
03-21-2009, 09:37 AM
There is a good article about it here (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=560&highlight=scholarly).

guyanonymous
03-21-2009, 11:54 AM
Thank you,

I'll check it out!

jfrazierjr
03-21-2009, 12:15 PM
Is this a printed map or something to look at on a monitor or both ? Because readability of print is much better than monitor so you could get small text in there.

As RR says, it also depends on your software and if you are doing monitor or print and if monitor only are you viewing in the software or are you viewing in a browser.

One thing that I REALLY like about Fractal Mapper (and I am sure CC does this also) is that you can set objects to have a zoom level associated so that as you zoom in or out things like labels can be turned off or on. For example... say you have a large label for a nation. As you zoom in and hit a certain level, you turn off the nation label and turn on some of the region labels and perhaps some of the larger city labels. As you zoom in more, you turn off the region labels and turn on even more of the small town labels (and optionally turn on their "icon/marker", etc.