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Types of Maps – Series Maps

Many maps are ‘one–off’ products – e.g. a map of a tourist resort.  But an even larger number are what are called Series Maps.  All the maps types described elsewhere may be part of a map series.


Topographic Series Maps

These maps typically have a constant scale (eg 1:100,000) and join together in a regular fashion such that a large area is continuously mapped.  Also, the selection and depiction of features – often utilising complex sets of rules – is consistent for the whole series.  Index maps are used to show the location and extent of each map in the series.

See Topographic Maps for information about topographic series maps.

Series maps are most likely to be produced by government mapping agencies.

Geoscience Australia, index to International Map of the World (IMW), extract from Map Index, Topographic Maps Available from Geoscience Australia – National Mapping Division

This is an index for 1:1 million scale maps over Australia, titled International Map of the World (IMW).

Note the index shows that the map sheets in this series have been produced using a regular grid of latitude and longitude.  Each map has been given a unique number and name.

Land Information New Zealand, index for the New Zealand 262 Series maps

Worldwide a popular map scale for topographic mapping is 1:250,000.  This scale is a good example for a general map of a region because in most instances it is able to show a good selection of man-made and natural features.

In the case of New Zealand, because of the north–east ⁄ south–west alignment of the country, the producing agency (Land Information New Zealand) has opted to not use a regular grid, but rather has chosen to position the map sheet edges to minimise the amount of ocean on each sheet.  They have called this series of map the New Zealand 262 series and each map has a unique number 1 to 18.

Specialist Series Maps

These typically have different scales depending on the area and detail being mapped.  They do not necessarily join together to form a continuous coverage but use a consistent design concept so that the maps ‘look’ similar.  A good example is street maps of cities and towns and marine navigation charts.

Tasmanian, Department of Primary Industries and Water, Crown Land Assessment and Classification Project (CLAC) index to report maps

This is an index to report maps for the Tasmanian Crown Land Assessment and Classification Project (CLAC).  It is an excellent example of how maps on a topic can be regarded as part of a series of maps, but are at different scales, they may overlap and they can be very different sizes.

Time Series Maps

These are commonly thematic maps showing change in a selected area over time.  The most frequently encountered time series maps are the daily weather charts produced by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. 

Geoscience Australia, Atlas of Australian Resources, Third Series, Volume 4 – Climate, Median Monthly Rainfall

This is a good example of time series mapping.  In this instance four months of the year have been chosen to show the distribution of median (most likely to occur) rainfall.  Note a particular feature of time series mapping – all four maps use the same classification scale.  This allows easy comparisons between each map in the series.

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Last Updated: 16 Jan 2017