User preferences for world map projections

Bojan Savric, Bernhard Jenny, Denis White, Daniel R. Strebe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Many small-scale map projections exist, and they have different shapes and distortion characteristics. World map projections are mainly chosen based on their distortion properties and the personal preferences of cartographers. Very little is known about the map projection preferences of map-readers; only two studies have addressed this question so far. This article presents a user study among map-readers and trained cartographers that tests their preferences for world map projections. The paired comparison test of nine commonly used map projections reveals that the map-readers in our study prefer the Robinson and Plate Carreé projections, followed by the Winkel Tripel, Eckert IV, and Mollweide projections. The Mercator and Wagner VII projections come in sixth and seventh place, and the least preferred are two interrupted projections, the interrupted Mollweide and the interrupted Goode Homolosine. Separate binominal tests indicate that map-readers involved in our study seem to like projections with straight rather than curved parallels and meridians with elliptical rather than sinusoidal shapes. Our results indicate that map-readers prefer projections that represent poles as lines to projections that show poles as protruding edges, but there is no clear preference for pole lines in general. The trained cartographers involved in this study have similar preferences, but they prefer pole lines to represent the poles, and they select the Plate Carreé and Mercator projections less frequently than the other participants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)398-409
Number of pages12
JournalCartography and Geographic Information Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • cartographer preferences
  • map projection selection criteria
  • map-reader preferences
  • Strebe projection
  • World maps

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