A linear view of the world: Strip maps as a unique form of cartographic representation

Alan M. Maceachren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Strip format maps constitute a unique, but often overlooked form of cartographic representation. The purpose of this paper is to combine a historical overview of cartographic applications of the strip format with an evaluation of current implications of continued use of this technique. In addressing these goals, four factors that relate to use or selection of strip maps at various points in history are considered. These include two limiting factors that have at times dictated use of a strip format: Map construction materials and the information available to the cartographer. The remaining two factors, map purpose and strategies for cognitive organization of geographic information, are considered as positive factors that have led to strip maps being selected over other map forms. The limiting factors are demonstrated to have been significant primarily in a historical context. Map purpose, on the other hand, appears to be a consistent factor in selection of strip formats throughout history with route following applications predominant. Correspondence between the strip format and the likely strategy used by persons when learning new environments is also considered. Evidence is presented to suggest that strip format maps are not only easier to use when navigating through a new nvironment, but that they may actually aid the user in learning that new environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-26
Number of pages20
JournalAmerican Cartographer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1986

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Engineering
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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