Introduction to Topographic Maps Banner link to home page GeoSTAC Link to Department of Geosciences at Idaho State University
by Jim Riesterer . . . . . . . . . . Edited by Scott Hughes, Dan Narsavage & Diana Boyack

Topographic Maps Tutorial

Introduction & Materials
What is a Map?
Using Topo Maps
Map Scale
Reference Datum
Map Projections
Grid Systems
State Plane
Public Land Survey
Vertical Scale
Creating Profiles
Vertical Exaggeration
Calculating Slope
Using a Compass
Magnetic Declination
Get a Bearing
Go from A to B
Find Self on a Map

Topographic Maps Field Exercises

Exercise 1
Exercise 2
Exercise 3
Exercise 4

GeoSTAC Home

Field Exercises
April 7, 2008

Vertical Exaggeration

Depending on why you are creating your topographic profile, you may want to use vertical exaggeration when constructing it.

Vertical exaggeration simply means that your vertical scale is larger than your horizontal scale (in the example you could use one inch is equal to 1000 ft. for your vertical scale, while keeping the horizontal scale the same). Vertical exaggeration is often used if you want to discern subtle topographic features or if the profile covers a large horizontal distance (miles) relative to the relief (feet).

To determine the amount of vertical exaggeration used to construct a profile, simply divide the real-world units on the horizontal axis by the real-world units on the vertical axis.

If the vertical scale is one 1"=1000’ and the horizontal scale is 1"=2000’, the vertical exaggeration is 2x (2000’/1000’).

Vertical Exaggeration



Continue to ... Calculating Slope ...