Unaware Readers = Happy Maps
- On maps and plans, text competes with the graphics. In books and magazines, they normally work alongside one another.
- Cannot be placed over backgrounds that share the same color as the letters.
- Typically placed over many various types of backgrounds – which are usually dark – instead of a common white background
- Small text can be difficult to read when placed over complex, textured backgrounds.
- The eye reads text on a map letter-by-letter, instead of through word shapes.
- Single lines of text often run across the page diagonally, or on a curve.
- Type size and style changes quite a lot on maps.
- Much map text is set in quite small point sizes.
Legibility of Type on Maps
The font variant specifies whether the text is to be rendered using a normal, bold, italic, or oblique face.
Weight, Stretch, Size
How to Font
Digital fonts are created using specialized software. A basic understanding of how fonts are created can help the cartographer in their understanding of typography. While font creation is beyond the scope of this lesson, an excellent tutorial is available from [Divide By Zero] Fonts and the Tom 7 Institute of Computer Knowledge (TICK). Divide By Zero is my favorite site for free and very fun fonts.
Map Font Selection
- The typeface must be legible in small sizes
- Typeface must also be slightly narrow, to avoid line lengths running too long
- Different styles and weights of the typeface must be clearly differentiated from one another
- Individual letters must also all appear different from one another, to help minimize misreadings and misunderstandings
- Typeface must be able to form good word shapes, which will also directly increase legibility