GEO 326V: Cartographic Design and Production, Online
Summer 2017: Second Session: Syllabus

nstructor: Yi Shi,

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 session, 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.

Course Goals:

1. Know the principles of well-designed maps for various output media.

2. Articulate the value of graphics, including maps, to communicate information.

3. Use mapping and graphics software to create original maps that follow established cartographic design principles.

Course Learning Outcomes (Objectives):

At the conclusion of this course, students will be able to:

1.  Design informative reference maps based on well-established cartographic principles.

2.  Create well-designed and informative maps using ESRI ArcMap and Adobe Illustrator software.

3.  Critique maps from other sources based on the principles of good cartographic design.

4.  Understand how factors such as typeface and color choice, labeling, and map layout can strongly

     influence communication of geographic information.

5.  Design a simple website and upload files to that website.

Course Requirements and Recommendations: 


Highly recommended

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

Course Netiquette: 

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 conversing with your Instructor and other students in the class.

Course Organization:

While a team of faculty and staff developed and 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 quizzes and online labs.

Your Course Authors, Associated Staff, and Instructor

Dr. Yi Shi is responsible for this course, from the day-to-day management to the grading. Yi takes care of instruction, grading labs and quizzes, any content questions you may have, any questions about how to work through the course, and final grades. ALL email correspondence should go to your instructor. Josh Vertalka will assist with grading. Beth Weisenborn may also assist with the course.


Juliegh Bookout and Beth Weisenborn are staff members of onGEO courses at Michigan State University, so you may receive notices from them occasionally.

Dr. Kirk Goldsberry and Ms. Adrienne Goldsberry are the original authors of the course content. Cadi Fung, Juliegh Bookout, and Beth Weisenborn were content editors. While this group of Online Geography (onGEO) faculty and staff developed the course, they are not involved in the day-to-day workings of the course -- your instructor is responsible for course delivery and instruction.


This course consists of 11 online lessons (or lectures) and 7 online labs.



Text Readings, 2e



Introduction to Design
- Part 1: Introduction to the Course

- Part 2: What is Cartographic Design?

- Part 3: Principles of Cartographic Design

Activity. Remote-server Logon


Map Design
- Part 1: What Information Is Being Mapped?

- Part 2: Who Will Be Reading Your Map?

- Part 3: Is the Map Content Coordinated with Written Content or Other Graphics?

- Part 4: What Size and Medium Will Be Used to Display the Map?

- Part 5: What Are the Time and Budget Constraints on a Map's Production?

Chapter 1, Pages 2 to 5;

Chapter 4

1. Creating an Online Portfolio


Typography I
- Part 1: What Is Typography?

- Part 2: Fonts and Typefaces

- Part 3: Principles of Typography

- Part 4: Anatomy of Characters in a Typeface

Chapter 5

2. Adobe Illustrator Tools and Objects


Typography II
- Part 1: How to Choose a Typeface

- Part 2: Type Size, Spacing, and Effects

- Part 3: Text and Label Placement

- Part 4: Labels as Symbols

Chapter 6

3. Typography and Cartography
4. Cartographic Labeling


Color in Cartography
- Part 1: Color 101

- Part 2: Choice of Colors

- Part 3: Color on Thematic Maps

- Part 4: Mixing Colors

- Part 5: Color Blindness

- Part 6: Simultaneous Contrast

- Part 7: Converting Color to Black and White

Chapter 7;

Chapter 8


Visual Variables

-Part 1: Background on Visual Variables

-Part 2: Visual Variables

-Part 3: How Are Visual Variables Used?

Part 4: Making Sense of it All

Chapter 9


Map Elements and Layout

Chapter 1, Pages 6 to 16;

Chapter 3; Additional reading in lesson

5 and 6. Map of Michigan


Terrain I

See readings in lesson;

Chapter 2, Pages 37 to 39


Terrain II

See readings in lesson


Election Mapping

See readings in Lesson


Summary and Trends in Cartography

See readings in Lesson

7. Nosara, Costa Rica Map


There are six quizzes. The purpose of these quizzes is to test your understanding of the material from the online lessons, textbook readings, AND labs covered. The quizzes will be open for you to take at your convenience. You may take each quiz only once. Once you begin a quiz, you will have to finish it in the designated time limit. You must take and submit each quiz before moving on to the next set of lessons and quiz. Quizzes are open-note and open-text and you may consult both of these sources while taking the quiz. Be forewarned, however, that having an 'open-book' quiz does not release you from studying! Quizzes are timed and if you are not prepared you will spend your time trying to find the answers.

Quizzes will consist of mostly multiple-choice, true/false, and some short answer and essay/calculation questions. All quiz 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 quiz is unique and completely unlike any other student's quiz. Attempting to be dishonest on these quizzes is against University/course policy. You are expected to follow University policy on Academic Integrity.


In addition to the quizzes, you will also be required to complete seven 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. 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.

Labs are independent exercises; you are not to collaborate with fellow students on them. The labs are designed to take approximately 2-4 hours to complete.

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:

MSU privacy statement (and use of course materials)

From the D2L Help Page (2016):

MSU expects that you will respect the rights of faculty and other students as you participate in the educational process. Participating in an 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 MSU policy require that you must not reveal any information about classmates, coursework content, or its authors to anyone outside the course.

Students should be aware that their use of D2L materials and communication tools in a particular course may be observed and recorded by the instructor of that course. These observations and records may include a student's access to online library materials linked through the Desire2Learn course website. Use of these observations and records must conform to the use and release of confidential student records as described in Michigan State University's Access to Student Information. Students may link to library resources directly, without linking through D2L, using the Library website.

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/quizzes/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 0 (even after the fact) for the assignment from which the material came.

Academic honesty

From Academic Integrity: MSU Policies, Regulations and Ordinances Regarding Academic Honesty and Integrity (Michigan State University's Office of the Ombudsperson, Faculty FAQ, 2016):

Article 2.III.B.2 of the SRR states: “The student shares with the faculty the responsibility for maintaining the integrity of scholarship, grades, and professional standards.” In addition, the Department of Geography, Environment, & Spatial Sciences 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, the following are considered academic misconduct: falsification/fabrication, cheating, and sharing work. Specific examples of academic misconduct include, but are not limited to

Students who violate MSU regulations on Protection of Scholarship and Grades and engage in any type of academic misconduct will receive a failing grade in the course or on the assessment(s).

Faculty are required to report all instances in which a penalty grade is given for academic dishonesty.  Students reported for academic dishonesty are required to take course on the integrity of scholarship and grades and a hold will be placed on the student's account until such time as the student completes the course.  This course is overseen by the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education.


Plagiarism is a specific type of academic misconduct defined as the effort to fundamentally use someone else's ideas as your own. Studies show that plagiarism is common at most universities, especially in online classes since it is easy to copy directly from the course site (or other websites) and put those exact words, or most of the words, in an answer. When completing written work, including answering essay questions on quizzes/exams and writing assignments, it is essential that you provide references where needed (that is, you properly cite all information that did not come from you) and that your responses are phrased in your OWN, original words. Failure to properly cite course materials (lessons and the textbook, if applicable) and using your own work previously submitted in another course without permission,  are also unacceptable. If your Instructor suspects that part or all of an answer has been plagiarized in any way or form, you will be contacted immediately--plagiarized content is given 0 points.

According to Michigan State University's Office of the Ombudsperson (2016),

Plagiarism may be accidental or blatant or self-plagiarism.  However, students are held to the same standards whether or not they knew they were plagiarizing or whether or not they were plagiarizing themselves or someone else.

It is your responsibility to read and understand course policies (like those provided here) and educate yourself so that you know what actions are considered acts of plagiarism (and academic misconduct, in general). A short quiz about academic plagiarism is located in the Getting Started folder of the course.  We strongly encourage you to read the associated materials and take the quiz prior to beginning the course. Please be conscientious of academic integrity and do not hesitate to contact your Instructor if you have any questions.

Spartan Code of Honor

As a Spartan, I will strive to uphold values of the highest ethical standard. I will practice honesty in my work, foster honesty in my peers, and take pride in knowing that honor is worth more than grades. I will carry these values beyond my time as a student at Michigan State University, continuing the endeavor to build personal integrity in all that I do. (

Student conduct that is inconsistent with the academic pledge is addressed through existing policies, regulations, and ordinances governing academic honesty and integrity: MSU Policies, Regulations and Ordinances Regarding Academic Honesty and Integrity.

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 Dishonestly 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 9 lab/activity and 6 quiz scores. Here is the breakdown:



Getting To Know You module

5 points

Activity 1. 5 points

Quiz 1: 20 points

Lab 1. 5 points

Quiz 2: 20 points

Lab 2. 30 points

Quiz 3: 20 points

Lab 3. 15 points

Quiz 4: 20 points

Lab 4. 15 points

Quiz 5: 20 points

Lab 5. 10 points

Quiz 6: 10 points

Lab 6. 10 points

Lab 7. 20 points

Total: 225 points

Final grades will be based on the following STRAIGHT SCALE:



















 You can view your grades for the labs and quizzes using your personal online gradebook (Assessments tab).

Extra Credit:

Given the number of assessments and abbreviated length of the course, no extra credit work will be considered.

GEO 326V: Cartographic Design and Production                        Summer 2017: Second Session: Schedule

Due dates for labs (by 11:59 PM (ET) on the due date provided):

M, July 17        Activity 1. Remote-server Logon

M, July 17        Lab 1. Creating an Online Portfolio

F, July 21        Lab 2. Adobe Illustrator Tools and Objects

W, July 26        Lab 3. Typography and Cartography

W, Aug 2        Lab 4. Cartographic Labeling

M, Aug 7        Lab 5. Map of Michigan I

F, Aug 11        Lab 6. Map of Michigan II

F, Aug 18        Lab 7. Nosara, Costa Rica Map




July 5


Getting Started

July 5


Getting to Know You: module contents are due by Tuesday, July 11

July 5


Course Introduction

July 5


Introduction to Design

July 5


Map Design

Quiz 1:         (Covers material from Lessons 1 and  2)

July 10


Typography I

July 10


Typography II

Quiz 2:         (Covers material from Lessons 3 and 4)

July 17


Color in Cartography

July 17


Visual Variables

Quiz 3:         (Covers material from Lessons 5 and 6)

July 24


Map Elements and Layout

July 24


Terrain I

Quiz 4:         (Covers material from Lessons 7 and 8)

July 31


Terrain II

Aug 7


Election Mapping

Quiz 5: (Covers material from Lessons 9 and 10)

Aug 14


Summary and Trends in Cartography

Quiz 6: (Covers material from Lesson 11)

* Labs are due by 11:59 PM (ET) on the due date provided.