Design principles for maps using New Zealand's statistical data

Purpose of report

The purpose of Design principles for maps using New Zealand’s statistical data is to help map-makers and analysts who use Statistics New Zealand’s geo-statistical information – geographic boundaries and statistical data.

If you apply these principles, your maps will have more impact, tell the right story, and be a fair and accurate representation of the data.

We examine the most common types of maps and give guidelines to help you produce good maps. The guidelines include the necessary elements of a map for informative and release purposes. It is important to note that not all elements are compulsory on every map. The choice of elements is based on the purpose of the map.

The most important factors to consider when you create a map are that the map:

  • is user friendly and easy to read
  • portrays a clear message without any confusion
  • is not over complicated – only include extra data sets for a defined purpose
  • is aesthetically pleasing and well balanced on a page.

This document has been developed in collaboration with Aileen Buckley of ESRI, Mairead de Roiste of Victoria University of Wellington and the New Zealand Geospatial Office.

The map principles are based on Buckley’s New Zealand presentation on design principles for maps using statistical data (2012a). She is the lead of the Esri Mapping Center), a website dedicated to helping users make professional-quality maps with ArcGIS. She has more than 25 years of experience in cartography and holds a doctorate in geography from Oregon State University. She has written and presented widely on cartography and GIS. 

Printable version

To read the report, download the printable PDF below. If you have problems viewing the file, see Opening files and PDFs.

pdf icon.  Design principles for maps using New Zealand's statistical data (PDF, 43 pages, 906kB)

Statistics New Zealand (2014). Design principles for maps using New Zealand’s statistical data. Available from

ISBN 978-0-478-42913-8 (online)
Published by Statistics New Zealand on Statisphere website, 13 August 2014

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