The Makings of Cartography: Major Cities in British Columbia

A map of major cities by population in British Columbia. BC is in light green and water features are in blue. Major cities are marked by circles proportional to their population size.

In this assignment, I create a reference map of major cities in BC with symbols with proportionate to population. As it was quite challenging to find ways to fit all text on the map, I provide some tips on text placement!

(Click to enlarge image)

In this week's assignment, I have created a reference map of major cities in BC with symbols proportionate to population. The biggest challenge for this week was to find ways to fit all text about cities, mountains, and water bodies so that it is easy for readers to read and locate land features.

Tips for text placement on maps:

  • For point features:The best positions for text next to symbols is to the upper-right and lower-right. Avoid placing text directly next to the symbol as it is
  • For line features: Labels should best reflect the length and orientation of the feature (ex. a river, a road).
  • For area features: Labels should mimic the feature shape and orientation and be positioned in the middle of the area feature. Adjust kerning (spacing between individual letters), spacing (space between lines of text), size, and direction of labels to do so.
  • Use a halo, a white border, on labels that are on top of other features in order to keep them legible.
  • All cities should be labelled in the same type family, but size can be used to show hierarchy.
Here are some skills I picked up through this week’s project:
  • Designed reference map of BC's cities and physical land forms on Adobe Illustrator using visual hierarchy of symbols and text labels
  • Applied knowledge of typography to effectively display hierarchy of map features through difference in type style, kerning, word spacing, line spacing, and colour
  • Created proportional symbols to visualize crude population of cities from highest to lowest population by range grading