Feedback on Decluttering Text/Map Improvements

So I am producing a large map (or at least it will be printed at around 3 feet.) I am trying to add a lot of detail based on published maps. I am finding that the map is starting to look very cluttered. Part of this was that I was originally duplicating the location of map text from the source material.

While not consistent, what I have tried to do with the text is:

Capital letters for “foreign” words

One font for former kingdoms

One font for current kingdoms/natural features

One font for towns/place names

If I stick with that, I will need to go back and do some editing. But before I keep labeling, I thought I would get some suggestions on how to make the labeling look better on the map. Also, if people have any general suggestions they think would improve the quality of the map, those are welcome too.



  • MonsenMonsen 🖼️ 46 images Cartographer Administrator

    Personally, I think you are using too fancy a font for those smaller labels. Fancy fonts are difficult to read and look cluttered easily, even if they are thematic. I would recommend sticking with simple fonts for those.

    You may also wish to try some color differences to isolate those larger area-spanning labels from the others.

  • edited November 6
    I'd maybe try to fade the names of countries into the background more, so that for example Fangorn would then be more prominent that Rohan. Especially if you're planning to add more labels, eg a Minith Tirith label would be quite hard to spot.

    I've been reading The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings to one of my children - just finished The Fellowship yesterday - and so I've been showing him a few maps of Middle Earth, and the names of countries aren't always very prominent on the maps, especially when other things are labelled.

    Edit: Forgot to add, that's a great map!
  • Some good ideas. Different colors and fading are a great idea. Not sure about switching the fonts on the smaller things. This is going to be printed huge, so I doubt it will look cluttered. But maybe swtiching out the fancier font for the large labels would look better. It would also address any readability issue with that font. I will play around with it. I will also create multiple text layers and move some things over so that I can play around with different effects for each type of label.

    Any other suggestions?

  • Don't forget simple tricks like underlining or using italics (though this may not work equally well with all fonts), or changing the glow on the font (maybe using a different colour glow to represent different things, such as highlighting countries from terrain items or places). Might be worth testing dark lettering with a light outer glow, in case that could be clearer. Sometimes having a letter colouring nearly the same as the main map background (but not identical) suddenly jumps out simply because there's a light glow added to the letters.

    Nice-looking map!

  • I have never tried the italics or underline stuff. Certainly worth playing around with. Different glows is also a cool idea. Glad I posted this up here. Not only will this help with this map, but any future map labeling I do.

  • I took many of the suggestions. It looks better. I think there are still a few issues. I think it might have something to do with the particular choices I made. Here is the current version.

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