How to Cite a USGS Map


The U.S. Geological Survey, or USGS, is a federal scientific agency that conducts research into the geographical topography, resources and natural hazards found in the United States. The agency provides maps of its data on its website and offers sheet maps for sale. If you cite a USGS map in your research project, you should use the proper citation format.

Modern Language Association (MLA) Style

  • When citing a sheet map, MLA uses the following format:

    Map author. Title of Map. Map. [ca. Map scale]. Publication location: Publisher, Date of publication. Print.

    For example:

    U.S. Geological Survey. Contour Map of Villanueva, NM. Map. [ca. 1:100,000]. Washington, DC: USGS, 1983. Print.

    If you are instead citing a map taken from the USGS website, use the following format instead:

    Map author. Cartographer. Title of Map. Map. [ca. Map scale]. Information date. Web. Date accessed.

    For example:

    U.S. Geological Survey. Cartographer. Black Canyon City Quadrangle. Map. [ca. 1:24,000]. 2014. Web. 26 Feb. 2015.

    While a web address can be included in an MLA citation, it is never required.

American Psychological Association (APA) Style

  • APA style cites sheet maps as follows:

    Map author. (Date). Title of Map [map]. (ca. Map scale.) Publication location: Publisher.

    U.S. Geological Survey. (1983.) Contour Map of Villanueva, NM [map]. (ca. 1:100,000.) Washington, DC: USGS.

    When citing a map from the USGS website, the following format is used instead:

    Map author [cartographer]. Title of Map [map]. (ca. Map scale.) Retrieved from URL.

    U.S. Geological Survey [cartographer]. Black Canyon City Quadrangle [map]. (ca. 1:24,000.) Retrieved from


  • Photo Credit altrendo images/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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