Ten Cartographic Codes.

  1. Intrasignificant:
    • Iconic: Iconic is subsumed the code of “things” with whose relative location the map is enrapt.
    • Linguistic: Linguistic is the code of the names.
    • Temporal: Temporal code is related to in time such as duration or tense.
    • Tectonic: The relationship of things in space is given in the tectonic codes.
    • Presentational: Concrete instantiations on the map are ordered, arranged, organized by the presentational code.
  2. Extrasignigicant:
    • Thematic: If the presentational code permits the map to achieve a level of discourse, the thematic code establishes its domain.
    • Topic: The topic code runs off with the space established by the tectonic code, turns it from space to place, gives the map its subject.
    • Historical: The historical code, only it works on the time established in the map by the temporal code.
    • Rhetorical: The rhetorical code that sets the tone, that having consumed the presentational code most completely orients the map in its culture , pointing in the very act of pointing somewhere else, to its author.
    • Utilitarian: The utilitarian code to be carted off for any purpose myth might serve.

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<Figure 3.7: The 10 map codes at work. It is easy to point to actions of the five intrasignificant codes; but because they determine the range of action of the intrasignificant codes, the action of the extrasignificant codes is felt dispersed throughout the plane of the map. The iconic code may determine the signs of the map’s things, but it does so only “in consultation” with the thematic, rhetorical, utilitarian, and other extrasignificant codes. (p87, Rethinking the power of maps / Denis Wood (2010)>


Decoding a map experience.


  1. Intrasignificant:
    • Iconic: Color code for roads, and boundaries. Symbols for specific information.
    • Linguistic: Safe tip, name of road, location, contact information, and activities
    • Temporal: It’s not temporal, this map has no seasonal issue.
    • Tectonic: This map has a scale to measure the distance.
    • Presentational: All codes above are presented well on the map.
  2. Extrasignigicant:
    • Thematic: This map is more focused on Trail in Cherokee National Forest, so this map has Thematic code.
    • Topic: The topic is “Trials illustrated map in Cherokee National Forest.”


  • Wood, D., Fels, J., & Krygier, J. (2010). Rethinking the power of maps / Denis Wood ; with John Fels and John Krygier. New York: Guilford Press.

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