How to Label Small Areas on a Map

how to label small areas on a map

A mapmaker’s goal to make the map clear and easy to read. There are many ways of labeling a smaller area on a map where there is not much room to write.

This lesson applies specifically to our USA PLACES AND GEOGRAPHIC FEATURES map. The area showing the states of the northeast is small compared to the states in the western part of the USA. It is easy to label the full name of a larger state because there is lots of room to write. With the small states, this is challenging!

Two Ways to Label the Map

  1. If you prefer to write out the whole name of each state, use the area to the right of the states. Label the name of each state next to it and use a leader line to connect the name to the state.

    Map with full names

    Map with Full Names Written Out

  2. Some mapmakers prefer to use the state abbreviation: it is your choice. This takes up less room and allows more room to draw in other details, like cities and other geographic features. That is why it is easier to label a map first before drawing in other details!

    Map with Abbreviations

    Map with Abbreviations