The wayside map standards are a collection of guidelines established to create consistency with official National Park Service publications maps.
The “You Are Here” is almost always the most important feature on a wayside map.
The following information is needed in order to create a well-focused wayside map:
The specific location of the wayside is critical in determining the content of the map.
The intent of the map may be the same as the exhibit, or it may be somewhat different.
If there is a primary user group for the wayside, (Dayhikers? Campers? Tour Groups? Horseback Riders? Backcountry Users? Family Groups? Wheelchair users?) the map can be designed to better address the needs and concerns of the specific audience.
Size and Scale
The size and scale of the map is based on its purpose, the amount of space available in the exhibit layout, and the geographic area and content of the map. A poorly designed map can mislead people if, for example, short distances appear to be very long. Maps should be created at the same size as will be used in the final reproduction. Adding to the map area, or changing the scale of a map can double the cost and time needed to create a map.
The cartographer will need to know what geographic features and labels to include on the map. Only those elements which are relevant to the purpose of the map should be shown. It is helpful to have a written list of all features (park areas, open water areas, drainages, roads, trails etc.) and labels (spelled correctly) listed in the order of importance. A map compilation can be a very helpful tool for conveying the map content to a cartographer. Also, the labels used on a map should reflect signage used in the park and wording used in the exhibit text. Refer to the official publication for consistency among media.
Published maps are generally oriented with north at the top, however wayside maps often work better when oriented in the same direction as the wayside. The following criteria can be used to help determine map orientation.
Gather resource maps to be used for base information, keeping in mind that these reference maps were created for different purposes. A map compilation, a hand or computer drawn map showing all content necessary to create the final map, is an excellent reference source. To help with the organization and development of each new map, Harpers Ferry Center offers a Wayside Map Planning Worksheet.
Last updated: October 8, 2019