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Completion requirements

1. Introduction

This workshop will discuss approaches and guidelines for creating map figures for academic books and journals. I will use QGIS to illustrate one workflow in a graphical GIS. This general workflow can be applied to other graphical GIS programs or even non-map figures.

This workshop was developed by Dr. Michele Tobias from UC Davis (GPL 3.0 license) and updated to QGIS 3.22 with some minor changes by Dr. Hans van der Kwast. The original workshop can be found here.


When you're flipping through a book or journal article, you probably look at the pictures first. Because figures draw our attention, they can be an incredibly important tool for conveying the message of your text. Communicating clearly within the restrictions of map figures requires a specific set of skills that is a little different from making larger maps for other purposes.

How are map figures different from other maps you might make?

  • restricted size
  • restricted color palette
  • limited in number
  • citations & license for data you use

Key Concepts:

  • MINIMIZE! Keep only what's absolutely necessary
  • What do I want my reader to learn from this map? How does it support the claims I make in my text? What story should my map tell?
  • Does my map communicate well?

In this workshop, we'll learn strategies and steps to take in making map figures for publications.

Before proceeding make sure you've downloaded the data from the main page.