Map Reading Training

Soldier conducting land nav training with a map and compass 


1-click Army Powerpoint topic: Map Reading.

A map is a graphic representation of a portion of the earth's surface drawn to scale, as seen from above. It uses colors, symbols, and labels to represent features found on the ground. The ideal representation would be realized if every feature of the area being mapped could be shown in true shape. Obviously this is impossible, and an attempt to plot each feature true to scale would result in a product impossible to read even with the aid of a magnifying glass.

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A map provides information on the existence, the location of, and the distance between ground features, such as populated places and routes of travel and communication. It also indicates variations in terrain, heights of natural features, and the extent of vegetation cover. With our military forces dispersed throughout the world, it is necessary to rely on maps to provide information to our combat elements and to resolve logistical operations far from our shores. Soldiers and materials must be transported, stored, and placed into operation at the proper time and place. Much of this planning must be done by using maps. Therefore, any operation requires a supply of maps; however, the finest maps available are worthless unless the map user knows how to read them.


The purpose of a map is to permit one to visualize an area of the earth's surface with pertinent features properly positioned. The map's legend contains the symbols most commonly used in a particular series or on that specific topographic map sheet. Therefore, the legend should be referred to each time a new map is used. Every effort is made to design standard symbols that resemble the features they represent. If this is not possible, symbols are selected that logically imply the features they portray. For example, an open-pit mining operation is represented by a small black drawing of a crossed hammer and pickax.

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