Noted Cartographer Illustrates Ways to Design Better Maps

A New ESRI Press Book by Cynthia A. Brewer Will Inspire Mapmakers for Years to Come

Redlands, California—The maps in Cynthia A. Brewer’s Designed Maps: A Sourcebook for GIS Users look lavish enough to hang on a wall. But the author hopes the cartographic work featured in her new book from ESRI Press will be seen not just as pretty maps. She would like the maps to be viewed as visual solutions to design challenges that geographic information system (GIS) users and other mapmakers face on a daily basis.

"Map designers work from visual examples. Some GIS users receive little exposure to a variety of strong designs. I wanted to put some good-looking maps in front of them and help them build their own abilities to make excellent maps," said Brewer, a cartographer and professor in the Department of Geography at The Pennsylvania State University.

The book is a companion to Brewer’s 2005 ESRI Press best seller, Designing Better Maps: A Guide for GIS Users. She differentiates between the two, explaining that while the first book focused more on cartographic design specifics, such as map labeling, color use, layout creation, and legend design, "Designed Maps provides the inspiration for excellent design."

Of the more than 70 maps featured in the book, Brewer chose six to redesign. She refashioned each three different ways to show readers some alternatives. "The intent of the redesigns is not to improve on the original map, but simply to show different approaches one could take depending on audience and the medium in which the map will be displayed," she wrote in the book. "These redesigns emphasize different features by using alternative color palettes and symbols. With each map design, I’ve pointed out the specific symbols, fonts, fills, and colors I used, which will help you create similar effects."

The maps selected for publication in Designed Maps came from several sources including the Map Gallery at the ESRI International User Conference. The stunning topographic maps include one of Switzerland that artfully renders the high-relief landscape. Readers also will find navigation maps such as a Paris street map that uses brightly colored labels to pinpoint clubs and tourist attractions; visitor and recreation maps like the one of Chicago’s bike trails; infrastructure maps including a New York City road resurfacing map; categorical maps such as one depicting chimpanzee ranges in Africa; and quantitative maps including one excerpted from the Census Atlas of the United States that shows the largest net migrations of people between California and other states in the years 1955–1960 and 1995–2000.

Brewer also includes an ArcMap Tips section, complete with example images of cartographic effects, for experienced users of ESRI’s ArcGIS software. "I also wanted GIS users to learn about the cartographic tools that are buried among the GIS tools," she said. "Seeing something you want to accomplish— whether it’s a special line effect, a transparency effect, or a color combination—is a way to get you to go hunting for the tools that offer that capability."

Designed Maps: A Sourcebook for GIS Users (ISBN 978-1-58948-160-2, 220 pages, $39.95) is available at online retailers worldwide, at, or by calling 1-800-447-9778. Outside the United States, contact your local ESRI distributor. Visit for a current distributor list.
Interested retailers can contact ESRI Press book distributor Ingram Publisher Services.

About ESRI Press
ESRI Press publishes books on GIS, cartography, and the application of spatial analysis to many areas of public and private endeavor including land-use planning, health care, education, business, government, and science. The complete selection of GIS titles from ESRI Press can be found on the Web at

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Since 1969, ESRI has been giving customers around the world the power to think and plan geographically. The market leader in GIS, ESRI software is used in more than 300,000 organizations worldwide including each of the 200 largest cities in the United States, most national governments, more than two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies, and more than 7,000 colleges and universities. ESRI applications, running on more than one million desktops and thousands of Web and enterprise servers, provide the backbone for the world’s mapping and spatial analysis. ESRI is the only vendor that provides complete technical solutions for desktop, mobile, server, and Internet platforms. Visit us at