What do symbols stand for on her map?

A map legend defines features in a map. The simply screens the symbol followed by a text summary of what that symbol represents.

You are watching: What is a map legend definition

You discover map legends everywhere. For example, subway maps, roadway maps and also even video clip game maps have map legends. And also there’s no far better way climate to show this through a pair of examples.

For example, part maps can have fifteen to twenty different symbols in them. And also it’s hard for the reader to really recognize each one. That’s why they have to reference a graph containing each symbol. That’s what map legends do.

Let’s take it a look at map legend examples in cartography.

Let’s start with some map legend examples

Whether you defining facets in a straightforward road map… map legends are one of those important map aspects that girlfriend absolutely need.

For example, if you room classifying floor orders favor in the map below, exactly how would you recognize what each shade meant without a map legend. Girlfriend can’t brand each polygon as it would certainly be cluttered in text.


This is an ideal case for making use of one. Actually, map legends room the driving-force to know what is in a map.

They are discovered everywhere from wind speeds prefer the earth Null institution map. In this case, the is a shade ramp for wind speed going from sluggish to fast.


Finally, the SwissTopo has a range of different symbols because that the leader to understand.

Now, you understand what is where in the map.


How to read a map legend

Imagine you’re shed in the woods. You in desperate require of food and water… and also all you have actually is a roadway map and also compass.

Your survive instincts start to absent in.

You understand where you are on the map, however it’s time to make some feeling out the it.

So friend pull the end your map and also it looks favor this:


You start to look at the features and also line lock up v the map legend.


Blue means water. Environment-friendly is a forested area. Red and black lines specify the species of roads.


At this moment, you’re analysis the map legend. The map legend includes all the signs (symbology) offered in the map to assist the reader know what the polygons, lines, points, or grid cell represent.

So where must you go?

Your best bet is to march your way to the main and second highways since natural functions like water and also forest is not a sure course to detect people. Certainly, gravel roads and abandoned roadways are no insurance either.

Certainly, the call in the south would be handy too!

You pull out your compass and head south.

It’s only since you might make feeling out of a map legend the you could make the decision.

What’s Next?

Cartographers simplify functions in a map using icons to stand for real-world entities.

Sort of favor a restaurant menu, these features in a map are characterized in the map legend.

See more: Will Coke Dissolve An Eggshell? Dissolving Egg Shells!

From basic topographic maps to facility geologic surveys, map secrets (or map legends) are found in nearly every single modern map.