Logged In Members Do Not See Ads


Land Surveyor Maps

The ability to read and use a variety of maps is crucial in land surveying.  Land surveyors begin with a large-scale map in order to make a landscape-level plan.  After the land surveyor determines the need for specific projects a stand-level map will be required. 

Two kinds of stand-level maps include: Transportation maps and Topographic maps.

Types of maps used by land surveyors


Types of Maps

Transportation maps usually cover a large area (ex. an entire county or state).  It can also act as a stand-level tool to locate areas where project work takes place.  Transportation maps vary in design depending on where it is being used.  For example, Forest Service maps usually concentrate on roads within National Forest lands and exclude other outside connecting roads.  The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) does the same for BLM lands.  Though this may be useful for the Forest Service and BLM, it can often create problems due to the inconsistency for land surveyors working in an area with multiple ownerships.

Topographic Maps (topo maps for short) are maps that provide extensive close-up details including relief, hydrology, vegetations and human-made structures.  In the United States the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is responsible for creating topographic mapping.  Over 54,000 quadrangles (map sheets) cover every inch of the United States.  The USGS’ mapping scale for topo maps is 1:24,000.  This indicates that one inch of the map is equal to 24,000 inches on the ground or 2,000 feet.  Each quadrangle is called 7.5 minute quadrangles because they cover an area of 7.5 minutes longitude high by 7.5 minutes longitude wide.  Topo maps are among the most valuable type of maps for the public and government.

land surveyors making maps


Map Scales and Distances

Accurate distances on maps are only measured if a map is drawn with a scale.  Map scales are usually written in the form of a ratio (1:12,000) or in the form of a representation (1 inch = 1 mile).  In the form of a ratio, 1 inch equals 12,000 inches (1,000 feet) on the ground.  In the form of a representation 1 inch shown on the map is equal to 1 mile on the ground.  In both cases you are able to find a ground distance between two points on the map by using a ruler to measure and multiplying by the appropriate map scale.


Map symbols land surveyors

Map Symbols

Since maps are a smaller representation of the world at large, map symbols are often used to represent real objects.  Maps simply would not exist without the use of symbols.  Symbols can be displayed on maps both through shapes and colors.  A small circle can depict a point of interest, brown circles indicating recreational sites, green circles indicating rest stops, and red circles indicating services.  Colors are also applied in larger areas on maps such as green indicating forested land and blue indicating waterways.  Map legends are often included on maps to ensure proper interpretation of all the symbols and colors used on a map.

The U.S. Public Land Survey System (PLSS) has a wide variety of symbols used for land survey systems.  Land survey system symbols include Township lines, Range lines, Section lines, Found section corners, Found closing corners, Witness corners, Meander corners, Land grants, Mining claims, Monuments, and Fence lines.

Votes: 0
E-mail me when people leave their comments –
Land Surveyor

Gadsden Land Surveying
Gadsden, Alabama
(256) 952-4711

You need to be a member of Land Surveyors United - Global Surveying Community to add thoughts!

Join Land Surveyors United - Global Surveying Community

You are not logged in


Land Survey Guides

Write and Share Your Articles and Presentations

Do you have an article about Land Surveying that you would like to share?

Land Surveying is a timeless art and science and it is therefore, evergreen! You may also know that a lot of older publications have gone away, unfortunately.   If you have written or published land surveying articles in the past, we would be honored for you to share them here with us.  If it is an older article, you can even republish it here with updates and reflections.  

Tip:   If you published an article in the past on one of the older sites which no longer exist, you can use the Wayback Machine to find it.  Then just copy/paste the old article inside a new post here.  Just be sure to tell us where it was previously posted.

Want to embed a PDF Document?

 If you have a PDF document or article related to land surveying that you would like to embed inside an article post, simply copy/paste the following code block into the HTML view of the post editor and replace the BOLD part of the code with the URL of the PDF you'd like to embed.   

Code to use:

<iframe src="https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=https://landsurveyorsunited.github.io/cssfiles/manuals/Surveying-Photos-Submitted-Land-Surveyors-United.pdf&embedded=true" frameborder="0" height="500px" width="100%"></iframe>

TIP:  You can also upload your PDF using the file upload button and then copy/paste the URL of the document you uploaded with the BOLD part of the code above to get a flippable PDF like so:

Uploading PDF land surveying documents to Surveying Articles

Differences between Forums, Blogs and Article posts

Forum Posts are great for asking questions which have a definate answer.  Forum posts are best for a quick exchange of information between Land Surveyors United members.   Please note that All Community Hubs have their own dedicated Forums so if your post is related to a specific hub, it is best to ask your question or share your tip inside the hub in which it belongs for targeted answers.  For example, if your question relates to Leica equipment, ask your question inside the Leica Hub forum for best results as all members inside that hub uses the equipment in question.  Likewise if your question pertains to a Location, you should consider making your post inside the appropriate hub.

Add Discussion

Blog Postsdiffer from Forum posts because you can embed and upload different kinds of information.  Blog posts are best for presenting information and updates for feedback and sharing.  When posting a Blog Post, you can also publish a short excerpt at the bottom which is what most members will see before reading the blog post.  Blog posts are also great for posting new surveying projects and digests of links to multiple surveying topics or your own website.   Things that can be embedded into Blog Posts are videos, images, slideshows, powerpoints, spreadsheets, PDFs, documents and more.

Add Blog Post


Articles are similar to Blog Posts in all ways except one.  Articles allow for you to post an Author Block at the bottom with links to your contact info, website information, credentials, etc. Similar to Blog Posts, things that can be embedded into Blog Posts are videos, images, slideshows, powerpoints, spreadsheets, PDFs, documents and more.  Similar to both types above, Hub Owners can add article sections and features to any hub they control on the community.

Add Article

Share your Land Surveying Articles

Surveying Articles is a place for members to Share Land Surveying related articles, presentations and knowledge with the Land Surveyors United Community. Post or embed articles for future generations of land surveyors.