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Key / Legend feature for Google Maps

Brandon [PersonRank 0]

Wednesday, April 8, 2009
13 years ago45,138 views

Every map worth its salt has a key or a legend. It's natural that maps must use a small language of symbols – this kind of road is this color & shape; that kind of boundary looks like that; this set of icons means this set of locations; and so on.

So where is the legend for Google Maps?

Take this map, within Taiwan:,121.784821&spn=0.040153,0.109177&z=14

I see 3 different types of road symbols: 5 looks like a flower, 9 looks like a round inverted triangle, 196 is a rounded rectangle. What do these mean? Nothing shows me. And what is the line that alternates colors from grey to white? Rail? Toll? Subway?

Or try this map, within Japan:,139.702148&spn=0.035883,0.109177&z=14

I see dozens of different icons – some appear to be colorful store logos, some are tiny black symbols – as well as various colors for the "ground". What's it all mean?

Or try this map, of Dubai:,55.308952&spn=0.019991,0.054588&z=15

Here, at least, most icons are accompanied by English words, so I can make out that one means hospital, one means court / government, another for businesses, one for post office, one for schools ... and others I can't quite figure out. Again, a new set of symbols for roads.

I don't expect every country to use the exact same system for road colors, sizes, and symbols, nor for terrain, nor for other symbolic icons ... but I'd like to know there's somewhere ready to explain to me what I'm looking at.

TOMHTML [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

Hey, good questions Brandon!
When I found one of these signs few days ago in Japan on Google Maps, my first idea was to click on it. But nothing happened....

TOMHTML [PersonRank 10]

13 years ago #

This seems to be the sole official legend for Google Maps:

Anyway, data does not come from Google, it come from data map providers (Kingway, Zenrin, ...)

Trogdor [PersonRank 6]

13 years ago #

Good point that the data comes from elsewhere ... but then why can't Google get a legend from the providers? I imagine Google works with them to keep the maps relatively up-to-date, so maintaining a complex legend wouldn't be so difficult.

I'm sure the providers themselves have a legend / key somewhere.

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