Suppose I want to display 4 maps on one sheet of paper, all with the same scale and same direction for North. Assume they all have the same projection and datum. enter image description here

Is it customary to place a unique scale bar and north symbol for each individual map? If not, how do you choose where to place it?

closed as primarily opinion-based by PolyGeo Feb 7 '18 at 6:06

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.


I think the four maps represent different information, which means each map is considered unique. The layouts should include a complete set of map elements including north arrow, scale, legend, etc., although they are sharing the same sheet, but they provide different information.

So to answer your question, yes it is normal to add north arrow and scale bar on each map even though they are located in one page.


TL;DR: Use north arrow and scale for each map to be safe, but it is not always necessary.

From my experience through making maps for work and what I learned in cartography classes, the general advice is to make sure the map elements, such as the north arrow and scale bar, are visually associated to the data by the map user. This is a bit subjective, but being a good cartographer comes down to having an eye for design.

My recommendation: If you want to play it safe, use a north arrow and scale bar on each map as it is definitely not out of the norm. Otherwise if you remove the border boxes and place the title above the map, you could place just one north arrow and scale bar in the bottom left corner. Without the borders, the north arrow and scale bar can be freely associated with all of the maps. Just make sure all of the maps are at the same scale and orientation.

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