Geographic Information Systems Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for cartographers, geographers and GIS professionals. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I was wondering if any of you had any creative ways to clearly show zoning and landuse together on a single map. I thought about showing one in a thick outline and the other in a fill with no outline but wondered if any of you had any better ideas. Does anyone have a better idea?

Thank you in advance.

share|improve this question

I think it depends a lot on how cluttered you map is likely to be and how manys zones/usesyou have. However, I find that just an outline by itself can be a bit hard to understand at a glance because if the outlines are different colours to denote different zones/uses, you tend to lose one of the colours at the boundaries. It can also be hard to know what is inside our outside of a polygon, especially where you have holes (doughnuts) in the data.

One approach could be to use a palette of solid colour fills for one layer and, for the layer above, use a variety of lines fills (fdiagonal, bdiagonal, cross-hatched etc). You could use bold colours for the line-fill but I would spread the lines fairly wide to avoid undue clutter.

share|improve this answer

Visualizing overlapping areals is definitely a difficult task. Will you also be labeling the zones? One way might be to have a single symbol for the zone areals and use the labels to differentiate them.

You could go with your thick outline for the underlying zones (the same for all zones, so borders shouldn't be an issue) paired with a label for each zone. Since there will likely be multiple land use polygons per zone, the zone label should follow some of these standards: same color as the border lines (black is a simple choice), give it some lightness to fade the label into the background a bit, have a decent amount of spacing between the characters (helps with fading to background), make it all caps. The idea is that the viewer will interpret the label as applying to the larger, underlying polygons and not the smaller land use polygons.

You can go with standard qualitative polygons colors for the land use layer.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.