Skip to Main Content

Cartography/History of Cartography

This research guide will help you find books, print journals and other resources about Cartography. Cartography studies the history of maps and mapmaking and interpretation of maps.

A definition for a map projection

Both a method of mapping a large area and the result of doing so. The Earth is a sphere; a map is flat, so that it is impossible to produce a map which combines true shape, true bearing, and true distance. ‘The usefulness of a particular map projection and the justification behind its transformation from a three-dimensional spherical surface to a two-dimensional plane surface is all too often judged from the aesthetic or suspicious eye of a naïve map reader rather than by the science behind its creation’ (M. Monmonier 2004). See also Monmonier (2005) PHG 29, 2.

Mercator’s projection exaggerates the size of the northern continents; it has been criticized as overemphasizing the importance of Europe and North America, although such was not Mercator’s intention. No projection is perfect: for example, Mollweide’s and Peters’ are equal area projections (correct in area), but distort shapes. Azimuthal projections show true direction; gnomic projections show the shortest straight-line distance between two points; orthographic projections convey the effect of a globe. Interrupted projections show the Earth as a series of segments joined only along the equator. Details of the projection used are given below each map in a good atlas.

map projection

Mayhew, S. (2015). Map projection. In A Dictionary of Geography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 22 May. 2023

Finding resources in the Library's collections

The subject headings available include "map projection" for general information about projections or under a named projection such as "Mercator projection" or "Peters projection."

Internet resource(s)

Keeping up with Cartography/GIS journal literature

Want an easy way to keep up with the journal literature for Cartography or GIS? And do you use a mobile device? You can install the BrowZine app and create a custom Bookshelf of your favorite journal titles. Then you will get the Table of Contents (ToCs) of your favorite journals automatically delivered to you when they become available. Once you have the ToC's, you can download and read the articles you want from the journals for which we have subscriptions.

You can get the app from the App Store or Google Play.

Don't own or use a mobile device? You can still use BrowZine! It's also available in a web version. You can get to it here. The web version works the same way as the app version. Find the journals you like, create a custom Bookshelf, get ToCs and read the articles you want.