HGIS Bibliography

Monmonier, Mark.  Mapping It Out: Expository Cartography for the Humanities and Social Sciences (Chicago: The University of London Press, 1993).

Please contribute to this dynamic annotated bibliography by adding your own reviews, comments, and observations about this work in the comment form below.


Review by David Cooper in The Geographical Journal 161 (1995): 338.

Review by Eugene Turner in Geographical Review 84 (1994): 347-349.

Review by Eliza McClennen in Journal of Field Archaeology 21 (1994): 516-520.

Table of Contents


1. Maps in the Humanities and Social Sciences

2. Scale, Perspective, and Generalization

3. Visual Variables and Cartographic Symbols

4. Map Goals, Map Titles, and Creative Labeling

5. Cartographic Sources and Map Compilation

6. Statistical Maps, Data Scaling, and Data Classification

7. Mapping Movement, Change, and Process

8. Relational Maps and Integrative Cartography


A. Drawing Media: Electronic Graphics or Pen-and-Ink Drafting

B. Working With a Cartographic Illustrator

C. Selected Readings


Sources of Illustrations




  1. In Mapping It Out, Mark Monmonier provides the Humanities and Social Sciences scholar with easy-to-understand tips and explanations as to how to use maps to their fullest potential both to explicate information and ask and answer research questions. Although published in 1993, most of Monmonier’s information and advice is still applicable to current mapping technology, mainly because it is a guide to designing maps rather than a mapping program manual. Throughout the book, Monmonier provides helpful maps, which help to directly illustrate the points that he is making within the text. He begins by discussing the importance of wordage on a map, too little or too much wording can ruin a map’s effectiveness. One of the most helpful chapters is “Chapter 2: Scale, Perspective, and Generalization.” As a new mapping scholar I have found myself married to accuracy. I am afraid to generalize or exaggerate geographic features because I do not want my maps to be determined to be inaccurate or poorly made by others. Reading this chapter made me feel easier about taking advantage of authorship privilege. Monmonier shows how it is necessary at times to distort or modify map and geographic features in order to increase map usability. Anyone new to mapping should definitely read Chapter 2. Monmonier also discusses in depth the importance of map symbolization in order to provide a map with the highest possible functionality. In “Chapter 4: Map Goals, Map Titles, and Creative Labeling,” he discusses how “the words on a map provide a needed link between the cartographic symbols and the natural language of authors and readers.” (93) A map must have a specific goal or message in mind around which the cartographer must work in order to ensure that the map is functional. In “Chapter 5: Statistical Maps, Data Scaling, and Data Classification,” he shows how to effectively symbolize statistical data on a map. This chapter introduced quite a few new techniques that I had not come across before. In Chapter’s 7 and 8, Monmonier explains how to map movement and change and how to create relational maps, two skills that are particularly helpful for historians hoping to integrate maps into their historical analysis. Overall, Mapping It Out is a good primer for anyone preparing to begin a mapping project for the first time or anyone wishing to brush up on basic map design strategies.

    Jessica DeWitt
    December 2013

  2. Mapping It Out does what it says on the tin; it provides an introduction to cartography for those in the humanities and social sciences. As author Mark Monmonier opens, this book is “encourage scholars to use maps where maps are needed.” (ix) As those in the humanities and social scientists typically express their arguments in a series of linear narratives, they miss out on the chance to harness to power of maps as an explanatory and analytical tool. With encouragement as its main goal Mapping It Out is divided into a series of conceptual and ‘how to’ chapters, without getting bogged in discussions of either traditional cartographic methods or computer based mapping systems. It is this capacity to provide as broad an overview as possible without being trapped in a detailed step-by-step process that makes this 22-year-old book still relative to today’s scholarship. One part of this book that appears slightly dated is the critique in chapter 1 of graduate programmes in the humanities and social sciences for their “neglect of cartographic illustration” (4). With the increased emphasis in universities on streamlining graduate training this seems like an unlikely occurrence.

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