PointPoint Maps: What Map Scale to Use?

If you want start drawing maps, including maps using MS PowerPoint, the first thing you have to decide is what is the map scale.

PowerPoint Canvas and Map Scale

I use a 1:10 scale for my maps. 1 cm on the PowerPoint map maps to 10cm on the table (about 4 inches).

I use this Map Scale because it fits within the canvas PowerPoint provides for an A3 or A4 sheet. Everything has to fit within the canvas available: you have to draw a grid for the table and fit within the canvas.

I use slides sized for: On-screen Show (4:3). This gives an canvas of 25.4 cm x 19.1 cm. The grid for a normal wargaming table of 180cm x 120cm (6’ x 4’) table has to fit within that canvas. At 1:10 Map Scale the table is 18cm x 12cm so comfortably fits the canvas.

1:10 also has the huge advantage that the calculations are easy. you want something to be 20cm on the table, then just divide by 10; you get 2cm on the map.

PowerPoint Canvas - On-Screen Show
PowerPoint Canvas – On-Screen Show

Implications of Map Scale on the Symbol Catalog

All the symbols within your Symbol Catalogue must match the grid of the table and associated map scale.

Given a 1:10 map scale some typical distances of interest are:

Feature/Things PowerPoint Map Metric Table Imperial Table
Grid on table layout 3cm 30cm 12 inches
Large area feature, e.g. large field would be 8″ x 8″ 2cm 20cm 8 inches
Normal area feature, e.g. normal rough ground would be 6″ diameter 1.5cm 15cm 6 inches
Small area feature
or 4″ building sector
1cm 10cm 4 inches
3″ building sector 0.8cm 7.5cm 3 inches
Single Tree * (for Orchard or Wood) 0.5cm 5cm 2 inches
Crossfire Squad 0.3cm 3cm 1 1/4 inch
Single hedge shrub * 0.25cm 2.5cm 1 inch

* Too small for a feature

Map Scale versus Ground Scale

Map Scale is different to the ground scale of the map or table. Map scale is from map to table. Ground scale is from map or table to actual landscape. For example with my 1:10 map scale and using a ground scale of 1:1000 for my tables (which is the most common scale I use) that means all of the following correspond to each other:

  • 1mm on the map
  • 10mm on the table
  • 10,000mm of ground (10 metres)

Series of Blog Posts on MS PowerPoint Maps

This post is part of a series on using PowerPoint to Draw Maps. The series will cover:

  1. From CC2 to PowerPoint for Drawing Maps
  2. Choosing Map Scale
  3. Drawing table grids
  4. Creating a Symbol Catalogue for Crossfire
  5. Drawing Maps for Crossfire
  6. Creating a Symbol Catalogue for Optional Maps
  7. Drawing Maps for Operational Level Wargames

To make sure you see the rest of the Drawing Maps Series subscribe to the feed or by email, or follow @StevensBalagan on twitter.

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