large scale map

Map Scale

Any scale can be used for a map, but a few common scales have been settled on for use by most organizations:

The smaller the number on the bottom of the map scale, the more detailed the map will be. A 1:10,000 map will show objects ten times as large as a 1:100,000 map but will only show 1/10th the land area on the same sized piece of paper.

Here is an example of a Bar Scale found on a map. The scale shows that about 1.25 inches equals 5 miles. The smaller increments to the left of zero are each 1 mile and are used to estimate smaller distances. Notice the scale is 1/250000 - that means 1 inch on the map is equal to 250,000 inches on the real land. (5 miles = 5*5280 feet = 5*5280*12 inches = 316800 inches. 316800 inches / 250000 = 1.27 inches)

map scale

By including a map scale like the image above, if the map is photocopied and reduced in size, the scale can still be used. Otherwise, 1 inch would no longer equal what it should.

Calculating the Map Scale:

Distance on Map
Distance on Ground
 
==
1.27 inches
5 miles
 
=
1.27 inches
316800 inches
 
==
1
250000

Maps are considered

large scale maps

  or

small scale maps

. A large scale map shows greater detail because the scale is a larger fraction than a small scale map.
Large scale maps have a scale of 1:50,000 or greater (1:24,000, 1:10,000, ...).
Maps with scales from 1:50,000 to 1:250,000 are considered intermediate.
Small scale maps are those with scales smaller than 1:250,000. A map of the world that fits on two pages of letter sized paper would be very small scale with a scale of around 1:100,00,000.

Here are 3 views of the same location on maps with different scales:

large scale map

Next: Map Symbols

map scales Why are maps like fish?
 
They both have scales!


Ask the Compass Dude
 

 
Find more Compass Info at www.CompassDude.com
boy scouts merit badges listeria testing scout software
how to read a compass
Compass Home
 
Compass Skills
  Compass Intro
  Compass Reading
  Compass Units
  Compass Use
 
Map Skills
  Read a Map
  Map Scales
  Map Symbols
  Read Topo Maps
 
Map & Compass
  Lat & Lon
  Declination
  Headings
  Orienting a Map
  Triangulation
  Route Planning
  Pacing
 
No Compass
 
Dish Pointing
Contour Quiz
Triangulation Task
Compass FAQ
Compass Products
 
Compass Links
About Me
Other Dudes