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A Guide to Selecting Map Projections for World and Hemisphere Maps

Part of the Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography book series (ICA)


Selecting the most suitable projection can be challenging, but it is as essential a part of cartographic design as color and symbol selection and should be given the same degree of consideration. A poorly chosen projection can result in misinterpreted information and impact the effectiveness of a map. This chapter provides guidance in selecting projections for world and hemisphere maps .


  • Angular Distortion
  • Pole Line
  • Orthographic Projection
  • Mercator Projection
  • Cylindrical Projection

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  1. 1.

    Despite their gross area distortion, Snyder also includes conformal projections in his guideline. He suggests the Mercator projection in the normal, transverse, or oblique aspect, for when scale has to be preserved along the equator, a meridian, or an oblique great circle, respectively. Snyder also recommends the conformal Lagrange, August, and Eisenlohr projections.

  2. 2.

    Snyder states that any pseudocylindrical equal-area projection is suitable. He does not include the Wagner VII projection, which is not a pseudocylindrical projection.

  3. 3.

    Snyder’s selection guideline contains only two compromise projections: the Robinson and the Miller cylindrical projections. Snyder’s list of compromise projections is extended here with projections with similar distortion characteristic as the two mentioned by Snyder.

  4. 4.

    Snyder also includes the conformal azimuthal stereographic projection for hemisphere maps in his selection schema. The azimuthal stereographic projection is not generally useful for mapping a hemisphere as it grossly distorts shape and area along the border of the projected hemisphere. Preserving angles is rarely needed for hemisphere maps and certainly not for locator inset maps, a typical use case for these projections. The azimuthal stereographic projection is therefore not recommended for maps showing an entire hemisphere in a circle.


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Jenny, B., Šavrič, B., Arnold, N.D., Marston, B.E., Preppernau, C.A. (2017). A Guide to Selecting Map Projections for World and Hemisphere Maps. In: Lapaine, M., Usery, E. (eds) Choosing a Map Projection. Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography(). Springer, Cham.

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