Interpreting the colored lines, areas, and other symbols is the first step in using topographic maps. Features are shown as points, lines, or areas, depending on their size and extent. For example, individual houses may be shown as small black squares. For larger buildings, the actual shapes are mapped. In densely built-up areas, most individual buildings are omitted and an area tint is shown. On some maps, post offices, churches, city halls, and other landmark buildings are shown within the tinted area.
First Posted March 22, 2005
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U.S. Geological Survey, 2005, Topographic map symbols: U.S. Geological Survey Unnumbered Series, GIP, 4 p., available only online at http://pubs.usgs.gov/GIP/TopoMapSymbols/.