How to Make Topographic Maps

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Topographic maps are specifically purposed for elevation of the land area, as well as outlining geographic locations, such as mountains. Topographic maps are used by architects, geographic profressionals, and by outdoor recreations, primarily hikers.

  • Determine the location you want to map, and gather maps of that location from local libraries or Internet resources, such as the link in the Resources section. From the maps you have aqcuired, record elevation levels, compass, scale, and any landmarks.

  • Establish a scale, which will represent the distance. For example, one inch represents one mile. Draw the scale on a corner of the map.

  • Create a compass direction, the four arrows that designate North, East, South, and West, from which you will establish how the map will face. The compass is typically located on the corner of the poster.

  • Draw the general shape of the location you are mapping, starting with the lowest elevation first. Label that line with whatever elevation it may be.

  • Start drawing elevation lines based on an established increment; for example, draw a line for every 50 feet of elevation.

  • Create symbols for significant landmarks, such as a triangle shape to symbolize a mountain peak.

  • Write the location of the map at the top of the poster.

Tips & Warnings

  • Using as many maps available to create the topographic map will give more accurate detail, such as elevation levels, specific landmarks, etc.
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