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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

General information about GIS resources at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Visualizing Geospatial Data

Data visualization is one of the most important steps to consider during any GIS project. The way in which your data is visualized will directly impact your audience's interpretation of the final product. Visualization elements include coloring, map extent, labels, boundaries, interactivity, 3D models, and more.

See Esri's blog post, Design principles for cartography for an introduction to using colors, text, legends, and other cartographic elements in your maps.



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Map Elements and Design

Below are some common map elements and design attributes to consider when visualizing your data:

Map Elements:

  • Title
  • Map Symbols
  • Legend
  • Map Scale
  • North Arrow
  • Map Area
  • Labels
  • Borders and Neatlines
  • Graticule or Coordinate Grid

Map Design

  • Colors and Shading
  • Typography/Font
  • Focus of attention
  • Map element hierarchy/Figure-ground considerations