Feb 1, 2016

The importance of a cartographic standard

written by Mike

The first activity we undertake when starting a new mapping service for a major event, is to develop the cartographic standard. This is the basis for all the maps to follow. It is vitally important to get this agreed first for event for a number of reasons:

Brand alignment

Making sure that the maps produced in printed and digital media are all aligned with the events brand is highly important. When the official brand is used it confirms the information is coming from the correct source (the organiser), it also reinforces the look of the brand within publications. Maps are used by a huge majority of stakeholders to understand the layout of an event and hence form one of the key communication pieces. Using a generic map style that is not brand aligned gives the impression of the event being disorganised and amateur.

Wayfinding alignment

When developing the cartographic standard, alignment with the wayfinding approach needs to be considered to ensure that the maps compliment the signage and avoid confusion for users getting to a venue.

Decision Making

One of the key reasons for a cartographic standard to be produced (and signed off early) is that it provides support for the cartographers creating the maps when making design decisions. All too often map design is criticised by users with no experience of cartographic principles and this can cause serious delays to publication (and a lot of expensive rework). Having a cartographic standard signed off early can stop lots of needless discussions on styling based on an individuals preference.


The cartographic standard itself can be quite simple and generally takes the form of example maps at key scales and a template sheet of icons and colour choices. The cartographic standard will evolve as the events brand and mapping needs evolve, however having this key tool is vital to making the process of designing maps as swift and painless as possible.