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GIS For Dummies® by Michael N. DeMers

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Chapter 3

Reading, Analyzing, and Interpreting Maps

In This Chapter

Translating map symbols

Spotting patterns

Analyzing the patterns you identify

Applying your conclusions to the decision-making process

People who explore GIS are often most astonished by the wide variety of content-specific (thematic) maps available. You need to have a working knowledge of the many varieties of maps and the types of symbols they use so that you can determine the best way to input data, as well as know the types of maps you use for a given application.

While you become familiar with maps, especially thematic maps, you begin to identify patterns in the symbols on the paper. Spotting patterns isn’t as easy as you might think because those abstract symbols represent sensory data contained on the map. The experience is akin to finding your way around a new town — you get the hang of it while you press further into your exploration.

This chapter shows you how to identify patterns within the sometimes complex map symbology. Also, you can find out how to ask questions about the patterns you identify, answer those questions through GIS analysis, and ultimately make decisions based on your analysis.

Making Sense of Symbols

Many types of maps are available, and each type has a unique set of symbols. Symbols are lines, objects, or pictures on the map that represent real objects on the ground. With so many map types, each with its own set of symbols, you can easily become confused when trying to interpret ...

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