When to use which map projection

What are map projections?

Map projections are the different ways we can flatten the three-dimensional world to the two-dimensional surface of a map. Sometimes known as the "orange peel problem", it's impossible to peel an orange and push it onto a flat surface in a perfectly rectangular shape. The same goes for a map of the world.

What does this mean for making maps?

Map projections do their best to represent the world by trying to preserve what is most important to that particular map. One of the most common map projections is the Mercator. The Mercator preserves direction because it was originally used for navigation. But in doing so it distorts the size of countries, in particular, those near the poles appear much larger than they actually are. 

This website lets you see how distorted different countries are on the Mercator projection by dragging them to different points on the map.

When making maps, we need to consider what the purpose of our map is and as a result which projection we should use.

It's also important to consider what kind of maps our audience will recognize. We have become much more familiar with how some common projections look, so it's often better to stick to these ones that users are more likely to engage with.

What projections should you use and when?

The Cards below explain more about different map projections, what they look like, and when you may want to use them.

How to change map projections in Flourish

The default map projection in our Projection map template is Eckert IV, while the default projection in our 3D and Marker map templates is Miller (modified Mercator). You can choose from over 40 different map projections in the "Projections" settings.

To change the projection, select a different projection from the dropdown. You can find the dropdown in the Projection settings in the Projection map template and the Base map settings in the 3D map and Marker map templates.

You can choose from the following projections in Flourish: