Most people use maps in one form or another whether for navigation, vacation planning or general interest. We thought it may be useful to explain some of the terms we use as well as explaining how map scales work and how they relate to the real world.

What does Spiral bound mean?

We produce atlases in two formats: spiral-bound and saddle-stitched. One North American atlas and all our European atlases are spiral-bound. See image right. When open, a spiral-bound atlas lays flat for easy reading—ideal for use on the move. The other two North American atlases are saddle-stitched (stapled). A saddle-stitched atlas takes up a little less space when closed, because there is no wire binding.

Different scales? Which is bigger or smaller? More or less detail?

The smaller the number, the smaller the distance it covers ~or~ the more detail you get.

Smaller number = smaller distance = more detail
Bigger number = bigger distance = less detail

How do map scales work?

Our maps and atlases are produced in different scales for the different types of map. People tend to get confused because a smaller number means more detail.

When you see a scale such as 1:160,000, just what does it mean and how do you say it?

To tell somebody the scale 1:160,000, you would say “one-to-one hundred and sixty thousand”, the colon between the numbers is the ‘to’.

What does it mean? A scale is a numerical ratio which sounds complicated, but is really quite simple.

In the scale shown above, the 1 would represent 1cm on the map and the 160,000 would represent 160,000cm, 1.6Km or 1 mile in real life – on the ground.

1:10,000 = More detail

The Paris City Map (left) has a scale of 1:10,000,
For every 1cm on the map you get 10,000cm or 100m on the ground and shows detail of streets and even individual buildings, excellent for planning a shopping trip!

1:1,000,000 = Less detail

By comparison, the Country map of France (right) has a scale of 1:1,000,000. On this map, 1cm of map represents 1,000,000 cm or 10Km on the ground which is great for planning your route to the beach or the ski slopes..

The table below shows the scales we use on our maps, which type of maps you will find them on and what 1cm and 1 inch of map would represent in real life on the ground.

  Distance on the ground
  Map scale Type of mapping 1cm of map = 1cm of map = 1 inch of map =
In meters or kilometres In feet or miles In feet or miles
More Detail 1:7,000 City Maps 70m 230ft 581ft
  1:8,000 City Maps 80m 260ft 665ft
  1:8,500 City Maps 85m 280ft 708ft
  1:9,000 City Maps 90m 295ft 750ft
  1:10,000 City Maps, Wall Maps 100m 330ft 829ft
  1:10,500 City Maps 105m 345ft 871ft
  1:11,000 City Maps 110m 360ft 913ft
  1:12,500 City Maps 125m 410ft 0.19mi
  1:13,000 City Maps 130m 425ft 0.21mi
  1:16,000 City Maps 160m 525ft 0.25mi
  1:17,500 City Maps 175m 574ft 0.28mi
  1:20,000 City Maps 200m 655ft 0.32mi
  1:21,200 City Maps 212m 695ft 0.33mi
  1:22,000 City Maps 220m 720ft 0.35mi
  1:53,000 Zoom 530m 0.33mi 0.84mi
  1:130,000 Zoom 1.3km 0.81mi 2.1mi
  1:150,000 Country, Local, Atlas 1.5km 0.93mi 2.4mi
  1:160,000 Zoom 1.6km 1.0mi 2.5mi
  1:175,000 City Maps 1.75m 1.1mi 2.8mi
  1:200,000 Regional, Local, Zoom, Atlas 2.0km 1.2mi 3.2mi
  1:250,000 Atlas 2.5km 1.5mi 3.9mi
  1:300,000 Regional, Atlas 3.0km 1.8mi 4.7mi
  1:350,000 Country 3.5Km 2.2mi 5.5mi
  1:375,000 Regional 3.75km 2.3mi 5.9mi
  1:400,000 Country, Regional, Atlas 4.0km 2.5mi 6.3mi
  1:450,000 Country 4.5km 2.8mi 7.1mi
Less Detail 1:500,000 Country, Atlas 5.0km 3.1mi 7.9mi
  1:590,000 Atlas 5.9km 3.6mi 9.3mi
  1:600,000 Country, Atlas 6.0km 3.8mi 9.5mi
  1:700,000 Country, 7.0km 4.4mi 11.0mi
  1:750,000 Country 7.5km 4.7mi 11.8mi
  1:800,000 Country, 8.0km 5.0mi 12.6mi
  1:1,000,000 Country, Atlas, Wall Map 10km 6.2mi 15.8mi
  1:1,100,000 Atlas 11km 6.8mi 17.4mi
  1:1,200,000 Country 12km 7.5mi 18.9mi
  1:1,250,000 Country 12.5km 7.8mi 19.7mi
  1:1,500,000 Country 15km 9.4mi 23.7mi
  1:2,000,000 Country 20km 12.5mi 31.6mi
  1:2,400,000 Regional (USA) 24km 15mi 37.9mi
  1:3,000,000 Country (Europe), Atlas 30km 19mi 47.3mi
  1:3,370,000 Country (Thailand) 33.7km 21mi 53.2mi
  1:3,450,000 Country (USA), Wall map (USA) 34.5km 21mi 54.5mi
  1:4,000,000 Country (Africa) 40km 25mi 63.1mi
  1:4,300,000 Wall map (Europe) 43km 26mi 67.9mi
  1:8,500,000 Atlas 85km 53mi 134.2mi
  1:28,500,000 Wall map (World), Country 285km 178mi 449.8mi