How To Read a Map Legend

Using road map

Legends are creation myth stories or tales that are told to explain where a certain object or place originated. These stories are not true and they are created mostly for entertainment. On the other hand, legends on a map are a different story. If you enjoy traveling to different places that you are not familiar with, it is best to know how to read map legends. Map legends show and explain the meaning of each of the symbols that are seen on a map. Some of these symbols stand for roads, restaurants, gas stations, schools, historical landmarks and a lot more. You will be able to see what the symbols are by looking at the legend. Usually, map legends are enclosed in a rectangular box on top or at the bottom of your map.

Here are some tips on how you can read map legends:

  • Colors. Maps are usually created in different colors. We can normally recognize what these colors stand for. For the basic maps, the color blue stands for bodies of water, such as oceans, seas, lakes, etc. The color brown can symbolize mountains or hills. These are the basic colors that you will see in a map.
  • Lines. You will be able to see maps on a map. There are different types of lines that you will see. Some of them are single lines and others may have two or three stripes. They may also come in bold. These lines are used to symbolize the roads, boarders, highways and streets. You will just have to determine what the lines stand for by consulting the legend on the map. Some lines may appear in a bold color, such as red. This is to symbolize that these roads are main roads or more important than the others.
  • Dots and Squares. You will also be able to see dots and squares on a map. These dots and squares are where certain places are located. Some of these places are schools, malls, parks, and other popular landmarks in the city. You will be able to see these, especially on a tourist map where the best places to be and tourist spots are marked.
  • Drawings or Symbols. You may also find different drawings or symbols of important places around the city. You will be able to see an airplane symbol for airports, a man and woman symbol for restrooms, a telephone for telephone booths and a lot more. These drawings are usually seen on tourist maps so that you will be able to find your way to the nearest places that are important.
  • Letters. In some cases, landmarks will be symbolized by capital letters. H is used for hospitals and P is used for parking areas.

Reading a map legend is fairly easy. These are just some of the basic symbols that you will be able to see in a map. All you have to do is to consult the legend box on the map so that you can be able to decipher what the different symbols on the map mean. Each type of map will have different legends. The creation of maps is made easy by cartographers so that people will be able to use them without having to worry about how to read them.


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