2What are map symbols?Maps give us a lot of information and there is not much room for labels.So we use symbols to save space and make the map easier to read.Symbols may be simple drawings, letters, shortened words or coloured shapes or areas.
3How can we use them?A map will always have a key to list and explain the meanings of the symbols used.It is therefore not necessary for you to learn all the OS symbols as you will have a key. However it will make it quicker if you are familiar with some of the more common ones.If you have to draw your own map, you can make up your own symbols – but remember you must provide a key to explain what they are.
4OS map symbolsThe OS has its own set of map symbols, often copied by others.These symbols can be grouped into categories like places of interest (usually shown in black), points of interest for tourists (blue), etc. but every map will have a key for reference.
5For example the following symbols all indicate churches Some map symbols can tell you more than just the location of a feature.For example the following symbols all indicate churches– but each one will tell you a little bit about what the church looks like.(Click to find out what)
6For example the following symbols all indicate churches Some map symbols can tell you more than just the location of a feature.ChapelFor example the following symbols all indicate churchesChurch with a tower– but each one will tell you a little bit about what the church looks like.Church with a steeple
7Areas of woodland too will tell you what type of trees are to be found. Below is the symbol for a mixed woodland, but the trees could be shown as either just coniferous or just deciduous.ConiferousDeciduous
8Remember to give as much detail as you can Remember to give as much detail as you can. You might be asked where a certain feature is so be sure you know how to pin point its 6 figure grid reference or the grid square/squares it covers.Now try the following short tests.
9In order to do the test you will need to see a copy of this map and its key. If you cannot open this as a separate window then print this page out before you go to the second exercise.Check your knowledge of OS map symbols – click here2. Click here for map symbol exerciseOr click here to return to main menu