GEO 326V: Cartographic Design and Production, Online
Fall Semester 201
4: Syllabus

Instructor: Jeanette Eckert (

**This syllabus will be updated for the Summer 2017 offering of Geo 326v in June.**

Course Description & Goals: 
Maps provide important visual explanations of complex geographic information. This course introduces map design in three parts. Our first emphasis will be on graphic design and typography. The second part of the course will focus on reference map design and production, and the third section of the course will integrate design principles and contemporary media. The online lessons offer conceptual explorations of mapping sciences and arts, giving you examples of well-designed (and sometimes poorly-designed!) maps that illustrate certain mapping techniques. The labs offer hands-on experience in cartographic representation, graphic design, web design and map production. By the end of the semester, you will know a lot about how and why maps are made. You will also have a practical skill set that will enable you to communicate ideas via graphics.

With the successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

Course Requirements and Recommendations: 


Highly Recommended

All course emails will be sent to your Michigan State ( account only via the Desire2Learn (D2L) system. You will need to check your MSU account at least once a day for emails from your Instructor and Online Geography staff. If you need to, please set your MSU account to forward your emails to an account that you do check frequently.

Course Etiquette: 
An entirely online course is quite different from the traditional courses you have taken at Michigan State University. In an online course, the only contact you are likely to have with your Instructor or with others in the class is through email, discussion boards, blogs, wikis, chat rooms, et cetera. In general, this system works very well and many students prefer it to a traditional (lecture) class because they can ask questions freely without feeling intimidated. We have also discovered, however, that this same feeling of freedom can be a negative thing, particularly because some students feel they can be rude. We ask that you make a special effort to be respectful in all of your correspondences during this course.

Students who make rude comments will be warned the first time by email. REMEMBER: THE ONLY BASIS YOUR INSTRUCTOR HAS FOR GRADING AND DISCUSSIONS IS THROUGH YOUR WORDS ON A COMPUTER SCREEN. Your Instructor has no other context in which to understand your thinking. Therefore, it is important to be concise, informative, and polite while ‘talking’ with your Instructor and other students in the class.

Course Organization:

While a team of faculty and staff manages the course, an Instructor teaches each section. Moreover, this course is delivered through a series of online lessons and textbook readings. Course assessments are accomplished through online exams (based on online lessons and textbook readings) and online labs (based on concepts covered in recent online lessons). Self-assessments are provided for you after many lessons so you can test your understanding of the lesson material.

Your Course Authors, Associated Staff, and Instructor
Jeanette Eckert is the course instructor. She is responsible for the day-to-day management and grading. Ms. Eckert will grade all assignments and assessments, respond to any content questions you may have, answer any questions about how to work through the course, and issue final grades. ALL email correspondence and other forms of communication need to go to Ms. Eckert.

Adrienne Goldsberry, Beth Weisenborn, and Juliegh Bookout are staff members of Online Geography (onGEO) courses at State, so you may receive notices from them occasionally.

This course was written by Dr. Kirk Goldsberry and Ms. Adrienne Goldsberry and edited by Adrienne Goldsberry and Beth Weisenborn.

This course consists of
11 online lessons and 9 online lab assignments.



Text Readings


Getting Started



Introduction to Design
- Introduction to the Course

- What is Cartographic Design?

- Principles of Cartographic Design

Optional reading listed in the lesson; it is on reserve at the MSU Library.


Map Design
- What Information Is Being Mapped?

- Who Will Be Reading Your Map?
- Is the Map Content Coordinated with Written Content or Other Graphics?

- What Size and Medium Will Be Used to Display the Map?
- What Are the Time and Budget Constraints on a Map’s Production?

Chapter 1

Lab 1

Building a Website




Chapter 2

Lab 2

Adobe Illustrator Tools and ObjecTypography I
- What is Typography?

- Fonts and Typefaces

- Principles of Typography
- Anatomy of Charactets



Typography II
- How to Choose a Typeface

- Type Size
- Type Spacing

- Type Effects

- Text and Label Placement
- Labels as Symbols

Chapter 3, pages 76 to 88

Lab 3

Typography and Cartography



Color in Cartography
- Color 101

- Choice of Colors

- Color on Thematic Maps

- Mixing Colors

- Color Blindness

- Simultaneous Contrast

- Converting Color to Black and White

Chapters 4 and 5

Lab 4

Cartographic Labeling



Visual Variables
- Background on Visual Variables

- Visual Variables
- How Are Visual Variables Used?

- Making Sense of it All

Chapter 6


Map Elements and Layout
- Map Layout & Elements

- Frame Line & Neat Line

- Mapped Area & Inset Maps

- Title

- Legend

- Data Source/Author

- Scale

- Orientation

- Map Layout & Visual Hierarchy

Chapter 7

Lab 5

Map of Michigan I


Lab 6

Map of Michigan II



Terrain I
- Contours

- Hachures

- Raisz’s Physiographic Method

- Shaded Relief

Article in the lesson.


Terrain II
- Designing Shaded Relief

- Oblique Views for Representing Elevation

- Physical Models

Article in the lesson.

Lab 7

Nosara, Costa Rica Map



Election Mapping
- History of Election Maps

- Platforms for Election Maps

- Online Mapping/Cartography

- Cartographic Techniques in Election Maps

Article in the lesson


Summary and Trends in Cartography
- Considerations for future map design

- Trends in map design

- Connection between map design and graphic design

Article in the lesson

Lab 8

Campus Map


Lab 9

Final Project


Throughout the lessons, you will be asked and required, on occasion, to follow supplemental web links in order to answer questions that pertain to them. You will be provided with direction boxes (boxes that say "At this time...") with instructions about further exercises. You are responsible for the material in each direction box, which may ask you to visit a website or perform a certain task. You will also see boxes containing further explanations of course material (boxes that say "A follow up") -- these boxes are required reading as well. The lesson's text will indicate whether you are required to visit and explore URLs or if such a link is optional (provided in "Side note" boxes or in the "Above and Beyond" sections). In such cases, exploration of these optional sites will increase your understanding of the subject matter and may help you with the exams, but is not required.

Throughout each lesson, you will have the opportunity to test your knowledge with several questions or self-assessments. These questions and self-assessments are not graded. You will, however, be able to look at the correct answers and discuss any further questions you may have with your instructor. You WILL see some of these questions (or similar questions) on exams.

There are
3 exams during the session. The exams are spaced as evenly as possible throughout the course. The purpose of these exams is to test your understanding of the material from the online lessons, textbook readings, AND labs covered.

The dates of the exams are listed on the course schedule (below in this document) and will also be listed on the course D2L site.

Each exam will be offered during a wide (~24hr +) window (Eastern Time) on dates specified (course schedule page and calendar). You may log into the exam at any time during that window. Once logged into the exam, you have a set time limit to complete your exam and turn it in. Otherwise, your exam will be submitted by the computer at the time limit and will not allow you to make further changes.

You are expected to treat the online exams as you would an exam in a traditional lecture class - in other words, no cheating of any kind (including plagiarism). Exams are closed-book, closed-note, and closed-lesson. Your Instructor and other administrators CAN and DO monitor your exam logs before, during, and after you have taken the exam - they can detect patterns consistent with cheating and have the authority to discuss the matter with you immediately and give you a ZERO if they see fit.

Once you have turned in your exam, the computer automatically grades the multiple-choice and T/F questions. Your grade will be uploaded to your personal gradebook (under Assessments > Grades) and official grades, answers, and explanations for the exam questions will be provided (Assessments > Quizzes or return to your exam in Content) within one week of the exam close.

Official grades, answers, and explanations for the exam are provided on the course website within one week of the exam closing date.

Exams will consist of mostly multiple-choice, true/false, and some short answer and essay/calculation questions. All exam questions are selected at random from a pool of questions. All answer options for each question are also ordered at random. Please take note that your exam is unique and completely unlike any other student's exam. Attempting to cheat on these exams is against University/course policy.

Makeup Exams 
Makeup exams are
only allowed in a FEW cases. If the exam is missed due to an emergency, you may arrange a makeup exam with your Instructor. Also, a makeup can be scheduled if the Instructor is notified at least ONE WEEK before the exam date of a scheduling conflict. You MUST contact your Instructor IMMEDIATELY to set up a makeup exam. Otherwise, you will miss your opportunity to take a makeup and receive 0 points for the exam.

Online Labs
In addition to the examinations, you will also be required to complete entirely online labs and submit your answers in
D2L by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on the date specified on the course schedule! Late responses are not accepted; you will receive 0 points. All of your lab grades will count toward your final-grade calculation.

As with any course, it is the responsibility of the Instructor to uphold the standards suggested by the grading rubrics provided by the course authors. While your grade is determined by assessing the quality of your lab answers compared to the grading rubric, the grading process is subject to the rigor of the Instructor.

The labs will be based on the lessons and textbook readings you have recently covered. Each lab is worth a variable number of points. Spelling and grammar will count toward your score for written answers. Any form or degree of plagiarism will NOT be TOLERATED and will result in 0 points, no questions asked!

Labs are independent exercises; unless otherwise noted you are not to collaborate with fellow students on them. The labs provide you with an opportunity to put into practice the concepts and design techniques discussed in the online lessons. You will also develop your skills using software programs frequently employed in cartography: Adobe Illustrator and ArcGIS. These labs will require significant time to learn new skills in these programs, and to complete the assigned task/s: do NOT wait until the last minute to start them. ALL labs require the use of Windows (on a PC or Mac).

Again, it is strongly suggested that you start your labs early so that you have enough time to ask your instructor any questions you might have.

Course Policies:
Course Material in Desire2Learn: From the D2L Help Page (

"Know your rights and University Policy: Michigan State University expects that you will respect the rights of faculty and other students as you participate in the educational process. Participating in an Desire2Learn (D2L) course means that you may have access to personal information and academic work produced by other students and faculty members, such as discussion board postings, drafts of papers and other work produced in the course. Academic norms and Michigan State policy require that you must not reveal any information about classmates, course-work content, or its authors to anyone outside the course."

ALL of our course material in D2L is copyrighted property of Michigan State University. This means that ALL course material in the course site is protected and, other than one copy of the material for your own personal use, this material should not be distributed or posted in any form.

If material (lessons/assignments/exams/et cetera) from the course site is posted outside of D2L it is considered misuse of the material, therefore, the course staff can give you a Zero (even after the fact) for the assignment from which the material came.

Academic Honesty
The following material has been taken from the Academic Integrity (The Office of the Ombudsman at Michigan State University; Faculty FAQ). Please visit this site for a more detailed explanation of academic dishonesty and, especially, plagiarism -- two very serious offenses from the viewpoint of this course, the Geography Department, and the University.

Academic Honesty: Article 2.III.B.2 of the Academic Freedom Report states: "The student shares with the faculty the responsibility for maintaining the integrity of scholarship, grades, and professional standards." In addition, Department of Geography at Michigan State University adheres to the policies on academic honesty specified in General Student Regulation 1.0, Protection of Scholarship and Grades; the all-University Policy on Integrity of Scholarship and Grades; and Ordinance 17.00, Examinations.

Therefore, unless authorized by your instructor, you are expected to complete all course assignments, including homework, lab work, quizzes, tests, and exams, without assistance from any source. You are expected to develop original work for this course; therefore, you may not submit course work you completed for another course to satisfy the requirements for this course. You are not authorized to use external websites (such as "") whose purpose is to facilitate academic dishonesty to complete any course work in this course. Students who violate MSU regulations on Protection of Scholarship and Grades may receive a penalty grade, including, but not limited to, a failing grade on the assignment or in the course.

More specifically, a very important issue with virtual classes is plagiarism. As defined, plagiarism is the effort to fundamentally use someone else's ideas as your own. Studies show that plagiarism is very common at most universities (including MSU), but is an even bigger problem in virtual classes since it is easy to copy directly from the website and put those exact words, or most of the words, in an answer. This is a potential problem in the case of the exams with essay questions and in the case of writing assignments. It is essential that you provide references when needed (that is, you cite information that did not originally come from you) and that your responses are phrased in your OWN, original words.
This also means that ‘borrowing’ parts of other students' responses or using text directly from the lessons/textbook without proper citation is TOTALLY and COMPLETELY unacceptable; doing this will result in a ZERO, no questions asked. If your Instructor suspects that a part or all of an answer has been plagiarized, the student will be contacted immediately - plagiarized content is given 0 points.

Please see the example below for clarification:


How do humans influence species populations and ecosystems?


"Increased human population often leads to greater influence on the environment and sharper declines in species and ecosystems. According to the authors of the human footprint study, however, land transformation probably poses the single greatest threat to biodiversity, resulting in habitat loss and/or fragmentation for wild species. Beyond its effects on the nearby area, it can have global consequences, such as worldwide changes in soils and increased demand for fresh water for irrigation.

The authors also found that the greater the human access through roads, rivers, and coastlines, the greater the likelihood of resource extraction, pollution, and the introduction of invasive species. Both human access and land transformation have been fueled by increased power infrastructure (access to fossil fuel and electrical power) over the last century. Throughout most of human history, impact on the environment was constrained by raw human and animal muscle power. But today, one person with a bulldozer can match the power of 300 horses." (The Human Footprint, NASA-EO, 2003)


Increased human population can lead to declines in species populations and ecosystems. Land transformation probably poses the greatest threat, resulting in habitat loss and fragmentation for species. While land transformation can affect the nearby area, it can have global consequences, like global changes in soils and increased demand for fresh water for irrigation. Also, the greater the human access through roads, rivers, and coastlines, the greater the likelihood of resource extraction, pollution, and the introduction of invasive species. Both human access and land transformation have been fueled by increased power infrastructure over the last century.

When reading the above example, the instructor cannot tell whether this student learned anything from answering this question, or if they just looked for key words and then copied a few sentences into their answer. This is the main reason why you must be sure to read the website, think through the information, and then answer the question in your own words. The example below is a good answer. The information is basically the same, but the sentences are not the same as the website sentences. It is obvious when grading this question that the student has thought through the information before answering. Furthermore, a reference is provided to support the student's answer.


Humans can negatively influence species populations and ecosystems through land transformations. As humans transform previously "wild" lands they may encourage habitat loss or habitat fragmentation, both of which may lead to ecosystem degradation and a decline in species populations. Land transformations affecting large areas may even change an ecosystem's soil properties or alter water resources. Humans can also negatively influence species populations and ecosystems through increased access into "wild" lands as more roads are constructed or rivers and coastal areas are more heavily traveled. (Web reference: The Human Footprint, NASA-EO, 2003,

Please be conscientious of this potential problem as you work through the course, and do not hesitate to contact your Instructor if you have any questions. All students are required to read this syllabus. By doing so and remaining enrolled in this course, you have agreed to uphold our policies concerning academic honesty.

Any student who commits an act of academic misconduct (including academic dishonesty, violations of professional standards, or falsification of academic records; click here to read the University policy), will be reported to the University via the Academic Dishonesty Report portal. The type of misconduct and penalty, as well as a detailed account of the violation are submitted and will be accessible to the student’s Associate Dean, designee, and Instructor-of-Record.


Your final grade will be based on all of your 3 exam scores, 1 activity, and 9 labs (which includes the final project). Here is the breakdown:


Points Possible

Activity: Remote Server Logon


Lab 1. Building a Website


Lab 2. Adobe Illustrator Tools and Objects


Lab 3. Typography


Lab 4. Cartographic Labeling


Lab 5. Map of Michigan


Lab 6. Map of Michigan II


Lab 7. Nosara, Costa Rica Map


Lab 8. Campus Map (Part 1, 5 points; Part 2, 15 points)


Lab 9. Final Project (Part 1, 20 points; Part 2, 80 points)


Exam 1


Exam 2


Exam 3


Total points possible in the course =


Final grades will be based on the following STRAIGHT SCALE:



















To view all your grades in this course, select Grades from the Assessments menu in D2L.

Extra Credit:

The Geography Department will be holding a special event on campus for Geography Awareness Week. The event will be held at 7pm on November 20, in Wells Hall B115.  The department will be screening the film “A River Changes Course” and will be hosting the filmmaker, Kalyanee Mam.  You can attend and reflect on this film for extra credit. Details will be forthcoming as the date approaches.

GEO 326-V: Cartographic Design and Production, Online                        Fall Semester 2014: Schedule

Important Dates
M, Sept 1: No Class | M, Sept 22: Last Day for Tuition Refund | W, October 15: Middle of Semester| Th, Nov 27 and F, Nov 28: No Class




Text and Other Readings



Getting Started




Introduction to Design

Optional reading listed in the lesson.

Tu, September 2: Activity 1: Remote Server Logon*        (5 points)



Map Design

Chapter 1

September 3: Entrance and Assessment Questionnaires
Fri, September 5: Lab 1, Creating an Online Portfolio*        (5 points)



Typography I

Chapter 2

Wed, September 10: Lab 2, Adobe Illustrator Tools and Objects*        (30 points)



Typography II

Chapter 3, pages 76-88

Wed, September 17: Lab 3, Typography and Cartography*                (15 points)



Color in Cartography

Chapter 4 and 5

Fri, September 26: Lab 4, Cartographic Labeling*        (15 points)



Visual Variables

Chapter 6

9/29 > Desoto password is reset. Your instructor will email you a new password.
Exam 1: Tu, September 30 to W, October 1**                 (Covers material from Lessons 1 to 5 and Labs 1-4; 100 points)



Map Elements and Layout

Chapter 7; Elements of Cartographic Style 

Wed, Oct 8: Lab 5, Map of Michigan I*                (10 points)

Wed, Oct 15: Lab 6, Map of Michigan II*                (10 points)



Terrain I

Article is in the lesson.



Terrain II

Article is in the lesson.

Wed, Oct 29: Lab 7, Designing a Nosara Tourist Map*        (20 points)



Election Mapping

Article is in the lesson

11/3 > Desoto password is reset. Your instructor will email you a new password.
Exam 2: Tu, November 4 to Wed, November 5**        (Covers material from Lessons 6 to 9 and Labs 5-7; 100 points)

Mon, Nov 10: Lab 8, part 1, MSU Campus Map, Rough Draft*        (5 points)

Nov 16-22, Geography Awareness Week: MSU GEO will host activities all week.

*Nov 20, GAW Main Event: MSU GEO presents “A River Changes Course” and film director Kalyanee Mam.

Wed, Nov 19: Lab 8, part 2, MSU Campus Map, Final Map*         (15 points)



Summary and Trends in Cartography

Article is in the lesson

       Mon, Nov 24: Lab 9, part 1, Final Project, Proposal*        (20 points)

Exam 3: Tu, December 9 to W, December 10**         (Covers material from Lessons 1-11 and Labs 8-9; 100 points)

       Fri, Dec 12: Lab 9, part 2, Final Project, Final Map*        (80 points)

* All labs are due by 11:59 PM (ET) on the date listed.

** All exams will run from 8 AM (ET) on the first date to 3 PM (ET) on the second date.