# About:Scale (map)

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The scale of a map is the ratio of a distance on the map to the corresponding distance on the ground. This simple concept is complicated by the curvature of the Earth's surface, which forces scale to vary across a map. Because of this variation, the concept of scale becomes meaningful in two distinct ways. The second distinct concept of scale applies to the variation in scale across a map. It is the ratio of the mapped point's scale to the nominal scale. In this case 'scale' means the scale factor (= point scale = particular scale).

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• The scale of a map is the ratio of a distance on the map to the corresponding distance on the ground. This simple concept is complicated by the curvature of the Earth's surface, which forces scale to vary across a map. Because of this variation, the concept of scale becomes meaningful in two distinct ways. The first way is the ratio of the size of the generating globe to the size of the Earth. The generating globe is a conceptual model to which the Earth is shrunk and from which the map is projected. The ratio of the Earth's size to the generating globe's size is called the nominal scale (= principal scale = representative fraction). Many maps state the nominal scale and may even display a bar scale (sometimes merely called a 'scale') to represent it. The second distinct concept of scale applies to the variation in scale across a map. It is the ratio of the mapped point's scale to the nominal scale. In this case 'scale' means the scale factor (= point scale = particular scale). If the region of the map is small enough to ignore Earth's curvature, such as in a town plan, then a single value can be used as the scale without causing measurement errors. In maps covering larger areas, or the whole Earth, the map's scale may be less useful or even useless in measuring distances. The map projection becomes critical in understanding how scale varies throughout the map. When scale varies noticeably, it can be accounted for as the scale factor. Tissot's indicatrix is often used to illustrate the variation of point scale across a map. (en)
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• The scale of a map is the ratio of a distance on the map to the corresponding distance on the ground. This simple concept is complicated by the curvature of the Earth's surface, which forces scale to vary across a map. Because of this variation, the concept of scale becomes meaningful in two distinct ways. The second distinct concept of scale applies to the variation in scale across a map. It is the ratio of the mapped point's scale to the nominal scale. In this case 'scale' means the scale factor (= point scale = particular scale). (en)
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• Scale (map) (en)
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