About the map

Sometimes the simplest of ideas makes a beautiful map. Here we see a map of 1890 Irish Census data on babies’ surnames. We love that this map uses the surnames as symbols and scales them relative to how many babies shared that name instead of summarising data using standard mapping techniques. It’s a proportional symbol map but one which immediately shows the theme by using symbols that have meaning. The Celtic-inspired fonts add to the very Irish-themed map.

Why it works

Proportional symbols are an excellent way to show quantities on maps. Usually mapmakers scale the size of symbols, such as circles or squares, proportionally to the data value. This map works because it scales the size of the text instead. A progressive reveal shows the most popular names first and the complete map of names as you zoom. The search tool lists names in alphabetical order allowing people to easily search the map.

Important steps

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Tips and tricks

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