Part One
  Map Reading


  Reading Topographical Maps Introduction 1. HOME

  Topographical Maps - Definition, Purpose and Categories 2. Maps

  Information in the margins of an army map 3. Marginal Information    and Symbols

  Latitude, Longitude and Other Methods to Locate Points on Topographic Maps 4. Grids

  Translating Distance on a Topographic Map to Distance on the Ground 5. Scale and Distance

  Grid North, Azimuth, Declination And Other Concepts Used To Find Direction With Topographic Maps 6. Direction

  Overlays - Used Primarily In Army Map Reading 7. Overlays

  Aerial Photographs - Supplements And Substitutes For Topographic Maps 8. Aerial Photographs

 Part Two
  Land Navigation


  Using Compass, GPS, Sun, Shadows, and Stars in Land Navigation 9. Navigation Equipment    and Methods

  Reading The Shape Of The Land In Topographic Maps 10. Elevation and Relief

  Orienting and Navigating With Topographic Maps 11. Terrain Association

  Mounted Land Navigating With Motorized Vehicles 12. Mounted Land    Navigation

  Land Navigation In Different Types of Terrain 13. Navigation in    Different Types of    Terrain



  Sketching Topographic Maps A. Field Sketching

  Folding Topographic Maps B. Map Folding     Techniques

  Units of Measure and Conversion Factors Used in Reading Topographic Maps C. Units of Measure and      Conversion Factors

  Units of Measure and Conversion Factors Used in Reading Topographic Maps D. Joint Operations      Graphics

  US Army Training Material for Map Reading and Land Navigation E. Exportable Training      Material

  Orienteering F. Orienteering

  US Army M2 Compass G. M2 Compass

  Additional Aids such as Night Vision Goggles and Global Positioning System or GPS H. Additional Aids      (GPS, Night Vision)

  Global Positioning System -  GPS J. Global Positioning      System - GPs

 

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3-3. TOPOGRAPHIC MAP SYMBOLS

The purpose of a map is to permit one to visualize an area of the earth's surface with pertinent features properly positioned. The map's legend contains the symbols most commonly used in a particular series or on that specific topographic map sheet. Therefore, the legend should be referred to each time a new map is used. Every effort is made to design standard symbols that resemble the features they represent. If this is not possible, symbols are selected that logically imply the features they portray. For example, an open-pit mining operation is represented by a small black drawing of a crossed hammer and pickax.

a.   Ideally, all the features within an area would appear on a map in their true proportion, position, and shape. This, however, is not practical because many of the features would be unimportant and others would be unrecognizable because of their reduction in size.

b.   The mapmaker has been forced to use symbols to represent the natural and man-made features of the earth's surface. These symbols resemble, as closely as possible, the actual features themselves as viewed from above. They are positioned in such a manner that the center of the symbol remains in its true location. An exception to this would be the position of a feature adjacent to a major road. If the width of the road has been exaggerated, then the feature is moved from its true position to preserve its relation to the road. Field Manual 21-31 gives a description of topographic features and abbreviations authorized for use on our military maps.

3-4. MILITARY SYMBOLS

In addition to the topographic symbols used to represent the natural and man-made features of the earth, military personnel require some method for showing identity, size, location, or movement of soldiers; and military activities and installations. The symbols used to represent these military features are known as military symbols. These symbols are not normally printed on maps because the features and units that they represent are constantly moving or changing; military security is also a consideration. They do appear in special maps and overlays (Chapter 7). The map user draws them in, in accordance with proper security precautions. Refer to FM 101-5-1 for complete information on military symbols.

3-5. COLORS USED ON A MILITARY MAP

By the fifteenth century, most European maps were carefully colored. Profile drawings of mountains and hills were shown in brown, rivers and lakes in blue, vegetation in green, roads in yellow, and special information in red. A look at the legend of a modern map confirms that the use of colors has not changed much over the past several hundred years. To facilitate the identification of features on a map, the topographical and cultural information is usually printed in different colors. These colors may vary from map to map. On a standard large-scale topographic map, the colors used and the features each represent are:

a.   Black. Indicates cultural (man-made) features such as buildings and roads, surveyed spot elevations, and all labels.

b.   Red-Brown. The colors red and brown are combined to identify cultural features, all relief features, non-surveyed spot elevations, and elevation, such as contour lines on red-light readable maps.

c.   Blue. Identifies hydrography or water features such as lakes, swamps, rivers, and drainage.

d.   Green. Identifies vegetation with military significance, such as woods, orchards, and vineyards.

e.   Brown. Identifies all relief features and elevation, such as contours on older edition maps, and cultivated land on red-light readable maps.

f.   Red. Classifies cultural features, such as populated areas, main roads, and boundaries, on older maps.

g.   Other. Occasionally other colors may be used to show special information. These are indicated in the marginal information as a rule.


Return to Beginning of Chapter 3 - Marginal Information
 



 

Books

Map Reading and Land Navigation Buy the book this website is based on: Map Reading and Land Navigation

This website is based on the US Army Field Manual: "Map Reading and Land Navigation" Buy a copy from Amazon.com to take with you out in the field.

 

Book Review - Be Expert with Map and Compass

One of the best ways to learn and become proficient in any subject is to find a way to make a game or sport of it. That's exactly what orienteering does! Orienteering began to develop almost 100 years ago in the Scandinavian countries as a fun and effective method for military training in land navigation. Bjorn Kjellstrom was closely involved with the early development of orienteering, and he is the person who introduced the sport to North America. He, along with his brother Alvar, and a friend named Gunnar Tillander, invented the modern orienteering compass. They manufactured and marketed it as the Silva Protractor compass. This compass, along with Bjorn's book Be Expert with Map and Compass, made it much easier for anyone to learn how to use a map and compass.

This book has become the most widely read classic on the subject of map reading, compass use, and orienteering. Over 500,000 copies have been sold in the english language editions alone. There have been very successful editions published in French, Italian, and other languages as well. It is a short (just over 200 pages), easy to read, enjoyable book that can help you to have fun while you learn the subject quickly and effectively.

The book is organized into four main parts, plus a short, useful introduction. Part 1 covers having fun with maps alone. Then, Part 2 covers having fun with a compass alone. Part 3 puts it together and shows you how to have fun with a map and compass together. This section also introduces the game or sport of orienteering. Part 4 covers competitive orienteering for those who would like to compete with others in the sport.

A reproduction of a segment of an actual topographic map is included as a fold-out in the back of the book. It is used together with the "how-to" instructions the book provides. For example, one of the exercises in Part 3 is an imaginary orienteering "hike" that uses the sample map.

If you would like to have one of the best books available on map reading and using a compass, Be Expert with Map and Compass is hard to beat. You can buy a copy from Amazon.com today.

Read a book review of Agincourt

Boat Navigation For The Rest of Us
  Boat Navigation For The Rest of Us

Basic Coastal Navigation
  Basic Coastal Navigation