A map is a scaled and flattened visual representation of a larger geographical area showing topographic details, buildings, and roads. Its main job is to show where things are located in relationship to one another. You're probably familiar with digital maps used by GPS devices and phones for navigation. Without these maps we'd be lost just as our ancestors would have been without their hand-drawn directions.
Maps can also be used in presentations to illustrate or educate. These maps are often less realistic and more symbolic of the areas they represent. For example, imagine trying to illustrate the countries where your company has resellers or the cities your airline has routes to. Maps are also commonly used to outline territories in sales and marketing. These maps are called sales territory maps.
Maps can also illustrate where shops are located in a mall, how subway lines crisscross a city, what hiking trails are available in a park, and the layout for a historic battle.
A globe is probably the most accurate map we have of the Earth. Most maps used in presentations however have to be flattened to be useful. These are created using different projections of the whole or part of the Earth's sphere.
Mercator is the map of the globe most people are familiar with. It is named after its creator, a Flemish cartographer named Gerardus Mercator. It's a cylindrical map projection that creates a rectangle shaped version of Earth but distorts the size of the continents. Objects closer to the poles appear larger than objects near the Equator.
How to Create a Map
- Choose a map template. Choose a map that fits your purpose. SmartDraw offers map outlines from all over the world.
- Label important locations and areas. Use text and graphics (such as push pins, arrows, and other symbols) to label the map with key information. These are included in SmartDraw's custom map libraries and you can easily stamp and drag-and-drop them to your map. If needed, color areas of the map to indicate differences whether that be sales territories, areas affected by a disease or the habitats of different animals.
- Add a compass. A compass lets other users know which way north is located on a map. It may even be enough to indicate an arrow pointing north and leave off the other directions.
- Include a legend. To avoid cluttering your map with labels, you may want to include a legend for markers, colors, and pins to help guide its users.