What are map symbols?• Maps give us a lot of information and there is not much room for labels.• So we use symbols to save space and make the map easier to read.• Symbols may be simple drawings, letters, shortened words or coloured shapes or areas.
How can we use them?• A map will always have a key to list and explain the meanings of the symbols used.• It is therefore not necessary for you to learn all the OS symbols as you will have a key. However it will make it quicker if you are familiar with some of the more common ones.• If you have to draw your own map, you can make up your own symbols – but remember you must provide a key to explain what they are.
OS map symbols• The OS has its own set of map symbols, often copied by others.• These symbols can be grouped into categories like places of interest (usually shown in black), points of interest for tourists (blue), etc. but every map will have a key for reference.
Some map symbols cantell you more than justthe location of a feature.For example the followingsymbols all indicatechurches– but each one will tellyou a little bit aboutwhat the church lookslike.• (Click to find out what)
Some map symbols cantell you more than justthe location of a feature. ChapelFor example the followingsymbols all indicatechurches Church with a– but each one will tell toweryou a little bit aboutwhat the church looks Church with alike. steeple
• Areas of woodland too will tell you what type of trees are to be found.• Below is the symbol for a mixed woodland, but the trees could be shown as either just coniferous or just deciduous. Coniferous Deciduous
• Remember to give as much detail as you can. You might be asked where a certain feature is so be sure you know how to pin point its 6 figure grid reference or the grid square/squares it covers.• Now try the following short tests.
In order to do the test you will need tosee a copy of this map and its key.If you cannot open this as a separatewindow then print this page out beforeyou go to the second exercise. 1. Check your knowledge of OS map symbols – click here 2. Click here for map symbol exercise Or click here to return to main menu