Information in maps: basic characteristics

  • Hansgeorg Schlichtmann


Information is the aggregate of sign contents or meanings which can be retrieved from a map. Tis study tentatively summarizes the basic characteristics of the information. Two broad topics are dealt with. Te frst, addressed in s. 2 (i.e., section 2), covers the conceptual modelling of the world by the map author. Relevant processes are the conceptualization of places and the alternative structuring of the global information. Te second topic, developed in ss. 3-7, concerns several systematically important distinctions within the information; these are basic structural properties of map symbolism (the sign-system type which underlies mapping and map use). S. 3 introduces two high-order dichotomies: information about the mapped territory vs. peripheral meaning on the one hand and plan-related vs. plan-free information on the other. As shown in s. 4, many meaning units are present before expressions are assigned to them – they are present a priori –, while others are evoked by the expressive material. Related to this dichotomy is a distinction that pertains to expressions: they may be pre-empted for specifc contents or else be abstract – i.e., not pre-assigned to contents –, so that they must be assigned through defnitions. Further, evocation permits a map author to manipulate alternative notions or sets of notions and, within limits, to replace one conceptualization by another one (s. 5). S. 6 deals with the important dichotomy of
immediate and implied meanings – or denotations and connotations. Te former are coupled directly with perceivable items, the later indirectly through other contents, by which they are implied. Peripheral meaning – already introduced in s. 3 – is considered
in s. 7 and exemplifed by style traits.

Feb 7, 2017
How to Cite
SCHLICHTMANN, Hansgeorg. Information in maps: basic characteristics. meta-carto-semiotics, [S.l.], v. 7, n. 1, p. 7-17, feb. 2017. ISSN 1868-1387. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 25 mar. 2019.