2007 aerial photograph of the

Develop the Cartography

Our work includes developing the corporate map styles for our products and services including the OS VectorMap family and OS OnDemand.

We also work on a wide variety of projects from creating the mapping for data.gov.uk to designing one-off maps for charity events.

Thematic data

Ordnance Survey's GeoVation team have compiled this great list of data sources focussing primarily on national thematic datasets. These are superb candidates for map subjects or overlays for specific topics in Great Britain.


A library of cartographic resources to help you build a map. Often the best maps use a variety of resources that may include base mapping and other geodata, design inspiration, colours, fonts, symbols and even code!

Cartographic design principles

Inspired by Dieter Rams’ ‘ten principles of good design’, we have put together our own set of principles that we believe are fundamental to successful map design

Cartographic stylesheets

We are committed to making our products as easy to use as possible. We have developed a range of stylesheets for our data products which are compatible with various mapping software. We also provide clear information on how to download, apply and customise the stylesheets you need, so you can make the map that you want.

OS OpenData Award

Ordnance Survey provides the British Cartographic Society (BCS) with an award to encourage excellence in cartographic design and the innovative and exciting use of OS OpenData. This is an annual award that is presented at the BCS Symposium.

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The Piri Reis map dated 1513 and it is the first surviving map that shows the Americas. The Piri Reis map shows the western coast of Africa, the eastern coast of South America, and the northern coast of Antarctica. The northern coastline of Antarctica is perfectly detailed. The most puzzling however is not so much how Piri Reis managed to draw such an accurate map of the Antarctic region 300 years before it was discovered, but that the map shows the coastline under the ice.
The Piri Reis map was made by a Turkish Admiral Piri Ibn Haji Mehmed. Reis means admiral. His passion was cartography

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Popular Q&A

Dou you think cartography has been important for the development of makind?

Absolutely -- otherwise there would be a lot of lost people!

What drove early developments in cartography?

exploration of unknown lands

What influence the development of cartography?

The invention of an accurate clock. This enabled the people in the 1500's and on to determine the length of their position (degrees E or W). In order to be able to do so, one needs to know the exact time at a known position. Once they were able to do this, drawing a good map was possible. Refer to Umberto Eco's book called: L' Isola del giorno prima (Island of the first day), that explains it in layman's terms. The sextant already enabled people to determine the breadth of their position (degrees N or S).

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