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News, How-tos, and assorted Views on Accordance Bible Software.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006  

Make Your Maps Look Even Cooler

We've talked a lot about the features of the latest upgrade to the Accordance Bible Atlas, but today I want to give you a very simple way to improve the appearance of your maps: change the fonts that are used.

Changing the appearance of text on the maps can dramatically change their mood and impact. Here's a quick tutorial on how to do it, along with some examples of cool fonts you might want to use (and probably already have).

You can modify a wide variety of text labels in the Accordance Bible Atlas:

  1. Site names. The names of sites in a site layer can be modified by choosing "Define Site Layers..." from the Sites pop-up menu of the Map window. In the dialog box that opens, you can select the site layer you wish to modify, and then specify the font, color, scale (size), style, and the kind of marker used.

    Note: Since most site layers tend to contain numerous sites, you want to choose a font that is easily readable no matter how closely you zoom in or how far you zoom out. I tend to stick with basic serifed fonts like Adobe Garamond or Palatino, or san-serifed fonts like Arial, Helvetica, Lucida Grande, or Optima. Fancy display fonts tend to be hard to read at small font sizes or when there are many sites in close proximity.
     
  2. Region Names. The names of geographical regions tend to be the largest labels which appear on the map, so changing them can have the greatest impact on how a map looks. To do this, choose "Set Map Display..." from the Display menu when a Map window (or tab) is at the front. In the dialog box that opens, choose "Region Names" from the pop-up menu at the top. You can then set the font, color, and style for the Region Names.

    It's here that you can really have some fun. Cool-looking display fonts can really affect the look of the region names. Here are a few examples:

    Papyrus font:

    Optima font:


    Stencil font:


    Handwriting font:

    The possibilities are endless. Comic Sans, Technical, Moulin Rouge, Herculanum, and others all resulted in interesting new looks. In general, I find that the simpler and bolder display fonts tend to be best. Fonts with lots of flourishes and ornaments tend to look cramped and hard to read, so I stayed away from most script fonts, Old English fonts, etc.
     
  3. Route Site Names: Route sites are sites that are associated with certain route layers, and these appear in addition to any site layers you have displayed. For example, Fair Havens in Crete is a relatively unimportant site that is not likely to appear in most site layers; but when you have Paul's Journey to Rome displayed, Fair Havens will be displayed along with the other sites Paul visited. To modify the appearance of these labels, choose "Set Map Display..." from the Display menu when a Map window (or tab) is at the front. In the dialog box that opens, choose "Route Site Names" from the pop-up menu at the top. You can then set the font, color, and style for the Route Site Names.
     
  4. Extra Site and Region Names: "Extra" sites and regions are those which appear on the map whenever you do a search. For example, if you're reading in Joshua about Gibeon, you can select the name Gibeon and click the Map button to locate it on the map. Whether or not Gibeon is included in whatever site layer you have displayed, it will appear as an extra site displayed in red. The same goes for region names such as "Israel" or "Egypt." You can set the appearance of these "extra" site and region labels by choosing "Set Map Display..." from the Display menu, choosing "Extra Site Names" or "Extra Region Names" from the pop-up menu at the top, and then setting the font, color, scale, and style. Personally, I like to keep the font consistent with whatever font I'm using for my normal site and region labels, but you can heighten the impact of these extra site and region labels by choosing a different font if you like.

As I hope you can see, the Accordance Bible Atlas gives you a tremendous amount of flexibility with respect to the display of text on the maps. Be sure to play around with different fonts and styles until you arrive at a look that practically jumps off the screen.





Comments:
Hey, "Reuben", that's me! It's nice to see my name on a map :-)
 

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