Book Review – Making Maps (Krygier and Wood, 2005)

One of the main issues in geospatial technologies today is the quality of the output whether it be for a presentation, map in a document or a poster. The underlying issue is the lack of training in digital cartographic concepts, the art that enables the user to convey the science. In Making Maps: A Visual Guide to Map Design for GIS, John Krygier and Denis Wood, both well published Geographers and Cartographers, are cognizant of this duality and have presented a unique mix of visual example and explanatory text that introduces readers to the basic concepts of creating effective maps.

The first impression, before you even begin to read this book, as you are leafing through, is that the authors had a specific objective: to introduce the reader to map design. This is conveyed in the text of course, but the layout of the book is as much an exercise in, and example of, design as the content inside. From chapter headers to the figure layout and captioning, the content works to blend form with function in a way that makes it obvious that this book is separate from most of the current texts on map making. This is definitely an example of practice what you preach.

The actual text may seem overly simplistic at first, especially if you are familiar with cartography texts by MacEachren, Kraak, and others; however, this is deceptive as the format and organization the authors chose allow the reader to get to the heart of the information in an informal yet effective style. In all honesty I was quite critical when I began the book but quickly came to enjoy the book because of its minimal text and graphical approach to the subject matter.

Overall, Making Maps will make a strong textbook for digital cartography classes and a useful text for those of us who have been struggling with map design for representing our analyses. Even seasoned GIS professionals and cartographers will find useful information and design tips in the book. It is almost worth picking up for the glowing cover blurb that Anne Knowles provides alone. The one wish that I have is that it would be great to have a companion CD or website for the book, which could present interactive examples and more examples in color.

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Jesse is Instructor in Geography and a PhD candidate in Geography focusing on the integration of phenomenology and geospatial technologies to study prehistoric cultural landscape. He is a GIS Professional and Registered Professional Archaeologist and holds an MA in Geography and a BS in Anthropology with a concentration in archaeology.