Answers: Lab 10, Critical Map Reading – Extra Credit

GEOG 60 Introduction GIS & Digital Maps


Choose a map to critically evaluate. It may be a paper map on a wall in the hall, in your daily life, online, or elsewhere. Answer the questions below about the map. Good answers for some questions may require a paragraph or more. 


There are three kinds of maps you may not interpret (they were over-done by previous classes):

  • The U.S. Drought Monitor
  • A USGS topographic map (such as the Central Park Quadrangle).


Take a look at the questions before you select your map. This assignment will be easier if you have a map with full bibliographic data. I suggest a map that is a bit more thematically focused than a topographic map. I also suggest you find a map that interests you in some way.


The later portions of this assignment may require some basic archival research into a given historical period, person, company, social movement, or institution. Cite your sources for this research.


Good online places to look for maps:

Twitter Amazing maps hashtag:

Strange Maps blog:

New York Public Library:

Google Maps Mania:

The University of Texas Map Collection:


Part 2 (25 points)

1. What is your map titled? Please provide a link or citation (so the instructor can see it)?


5. Where did the data for the map come from, is that source trustworthy, why?


6. What kind of data (nominal, ordinal, interval, ratio) does it show?


12. What institutions are at play here? (nearly all published maps serve at least one of these three types of players):

  1. Do you see the role of a nation-state or government or administration at work in it? How?   
  2. Do you see the role of a private company or corporation at work in it? How?
  3. Do you see the role of non-profit or non-governmental organization at work in it?  How?


Part 2B (25 pts)

7. Who is the intended reader?


9. What message/proposition/thesis is the reader supposed to walk away from that story with? Note: this is not simply the topic.


10. How does the design (such as colors, categories, classification, projection, size, illustration, etc…) of the map advance its proposition(s)?


11. What doesn’t the map show? What has been left out to better serve the map’s proposition?


14. Using one (or more) of the persuasive methods we looked at in class, how would you improve the map to make it more persuasive?