This is the centerfold map in a booklet printed for the homeless. The numbers represent the page number that the information on each service provider is also found. We are limited to black and green for two color printing. It looks too busy and we would love other ideas on how do label a map like this. Thoughts?

enter image description here

  • 3
    If the labels are to look up what number is for what service, why is this list alphabetically sorted?
    – Jongware
    Commented Oct 22, 2014 at 20:00
  • @Jongware i think it's because you first look for a service and then see where it's located. And if you look for a service, alphabetical order is the best option. Seems pretty clear to me.
    – Yenn
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 0:57
  • 1
    we need more info: dimensions of the booklet? why green, gray and black streets? is this page a double page(folded) or a single page? why that "4" is white?
    – Yenn
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 1:09
  • These two pages are the centerfold of a booklet on homeless service providers.
    – OurCalling
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 16:13

3 Answers 3


We need to understand how a user will utilize this map. Will a person be looking up a place by name (in which case the alphabetized list makes sense) or by location (in which case everything should be sorted by number) or some other way (maybe by categorization?)

I'd also ask some questions:

  • is there significance between black roads and green roads?
  • is knowing relative location on a map more or less important than knowing exact addresses?
  • are roads the best landmarks for this particular region?
  • can you use a larger piece of paper? Or split the map into two separate centerfolds?
  • is there significance to the current splitting of the list into 3 groups?
  • is there significance to the fact that some locations are a single number, while others are a number+letter?

Your map is busy for three reasons: you have too many gray lines which clutter up the background, your labels are crowding all the white space, and you are "zoomed out" too far.

  • Take out every road or transit line which isn't necessary. That will reduce some of the line density.
  • Remove the labels from this map. Put them on the other side of the paper, on a foldout panel, or another page altogether.
  • Once you remove the labels, you will have more white space in your live area, and you can make your actual map larger. This will increase the space between your critical roads/transit lines, which will help it look less cluttered.
  • This is the only space we have to work with. Many of our homeless friends can barely read. Having the labels on a second page where they have flip back/forth won't work. Do you have any suggestions about a different kind of label or position marker? This is the bare minimum of streets. Every street left (and we removed hundreds) is necessary. Also, the font size cannot be any smaller.
    – OurCalling
    Commented Oct 22, 2014 at 21:13
  • @OurCalling: can you simplify the map by straightening out the roads that lead off the center? I.e., similar to what Henry Charles Beck did -- maybe a bit less radical.
    – Jongware
    Commented Oct 22, 2014 at 22:18
  • @Jongware that's not a bad suggestion, but do note that the underground map simplification works a lot better than road simplification as there's no need to be accurate as the user doesn't have to deal with way finding beyond knowing the stops when on the tube. When driving (or walking) scale and proportion is a lot more critical as you're the one navigating.
    – DA01
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 7:12
  • Dallas doesn't have a tube. Most of the homeless population in Dallas is limited to walking.
    – OurCalling
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 13:33

Are those homeless people able to easily navigate through numbers and other encoding?

I propose to replace these solid labels+numbers (that now overlap the actual distinguishable location on a map) with simple points and lines leading out of there to each item in the list:

enter image description here

And list items, in their turn, are to be organized: a) into category groups; or even better: b) in the way that makes the best (neat, rhythmic) composition of the lines leading to a map point.

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