Paper maps have been in use since time immemorial. They were used by early travelers and explorers to find directions and to locate important features and landmarks. However, technological advancements have created digital maps that are more advanced as far as usage and features are concerned. We take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of paper maps.
Advantages of paper maps
Necessary for certain uses: Paper maps are necessary for certain localities such as distances by road and topographic features.
Extents more readily obtained: Paper maps are designed in such a way that the extents are more readily available because of its certainty.
Used for data comparison: Paper maps can be used to make data comparison for historical purposes because they are static.
Paper maps give the bigger picture: Paper maps are designed on scales which give the user the bigger picture of the environment as opposed to specifics.
No sudden errors or malfunctions: Paper maps are printed on papers that are static with no future changes. Therefore there will be no sudden changes on the outline of the map when you are trying to read it.
It is tangible: Paper maps are tangible and can be seen and touched which brings in the feeling of physicality and reality.
Do not require internet connection to use: Paper maps are printed once on paper and they can stay there for as long as possible. They do not require computers and internet connections every time to access.
They are cheap: Paper maps are cheap in the sense that they are deigned and printed once and do not require additional costs to retrieve.
They are the only option in remote areas: Paper maps do not require computers or the internet to access and therefore remain the only available option for use in remote areas.
Ideal for use when travelling: Paper maps are best used by travelers who need to access various destinations locally.
Are easier to understand due to the limited features: Paper maps are easier to understand due to the limited features shown on the maps at a time.
Paper maps are scaled hence give a holistic view of the area: Paper maps are designed on a scale that represents a large area. This makes them ideal for giving a holistic view of the area being represented.
Disadvantages of paper maps
Time consuming: Paper maps are time consuming because they require complex interpretations when reading them.
Good quality paper maps may be hard to find: It is quite difficult to find high quality paper maps in the modern digital world.
Map printing errors: Paper maps are prone to printing errors whenever they are taken to the printers for printing.
Paper maps can easily be damaged: Paper maps are printed on paper that can easily be damaged as a result of weather conditions or other physical forces such as water or paint.
Paper maps are limited: Paper maps only show limited areas on a single map and you will need several maps if you are visiting several destinations.
It is archaic: Paper maps are an old way of representing an area on a map and may be difficult to understand and find any in the modern world. Most people therefore tend to gravitate away from this mode of mapping.
Paper maps are not complete: Paper maps are never complete and one may never get a complete paper map of an area. This is because features and landscapes keep on changing.
Paper maps are biased: Paper maps are designed and printed by people whose perception of an area may be subject to personal bias.
Paper maps show limited features: Paper maps show limited features of a given area on the paper because they only concentrate on one aspect of the landscape.
Paper maps are complicated to understand: Paper maps are difficult to understand because most of the features are represented in symbols.
Paper maps only use symbols: Paper maps rely solely on symbols to represent important features on the map and this may be a problem during interpretation.
Difficult to show elevation: It is difficult to show elevation on a paper map because of the limited representation features.