CaGIS Map Design Competition - An Invitation to All Mapmakers

The Cartography and Geographic Information Society is pleased to announce our Annual Map Design Competition. The competition is open to all mapmakers in the United States and Canada for maps completed or published during the past calendar year (2014). Students are particularly encouraged to apply for the awards sponsored by Avenza (makers of MAPublisher).

The purpose of the competition is to promote interest in map design and to recognize significant design advances in cartography. The focus of this competition is design; therefore, judging is based on cartographic design criteria, such as creativity, text (spelling and grammar, too), balance, unity, visual hierarchy, clarity, use of color, and subject matter.

About the Competition

Student awards are sponsored by Avenza and ESRI. Each student award consists of a cash prize ($500), a student license of Avenza MAPublisher, and a framed certificate of award. Student mapmakers in a certificate, diploma, or degree program (bachelor, masters, doctorate) must have produced their entries with student facilities as part of an accredited course. Student entries must be verified via the instructor. Winning entries will be displayed at a number of national and international professional functions and will then become part of the permanent collection of the U.S. Library of Congress. Digital images of winning entries will also be provided (with permission) to educators and teachers as examples of excellent map design for their students.

Student entries are strongly encouraged. Therefore, there is no fee for student entries. Professional entries are $30 for each map submitted.

Categories of Award

Professional Categories

Reference: A map whose objective is to show the location of a variety of different features. The focus of a reference map is on accurate depiction at a given scale of the location of individual environmental features.

Thematic: A map whose objective is to illustrate a theme or the relationship among several themes. The focus of a thematic map is on the structure of the distribution rather than on location.

Book / Atlas: Atlases and books use original maps as the primary (in the case of an atlas) or a significant (in the case of a book) communication device.

Recreation / Travel: A map designed to assist readers in pursuit of recreation or travel, such as road maps, trail maps, and maps of parks or natural areas.

Interactive Digital: A map designed for digital media (Internet, DVD, mobile app). Maps in this category include some level of interactivity, such as selection and transformation, or animation.

Other: This category is for submissions that do not fit into any other category. Judges reserve the right to assign entries to another category if they feel it is appropriate and will offer an award only for an exceptional map that does not correspond with the other categories.

Student Categories

Arthur Robinson Award for Best Printed Map: A map or map series designed specifically for print media.

David Woodward Award for Best Electronic Map: A map or series of related maps designed specifically for electronic media (i.e., DVD, the Web, or a mobile app).

How to Enter

The 42nd CaGIS Annual Map Design Competition will be judged in February or March 2015. The post-mark deadline for submissions is Sunday, February 1, 2015. (All maps must be received by this date!) Maps must have been completed or published in 2014.

Submission Directions

Please note: the submission process has changed! Interactive and Digital Map Entrants must submit one of the following:

After November 1st, 2014, please mail your hard copies to Tanya Allison at Montgomery College.
Note: any submissions postmarked after February 1st, 2015, will not be accepted.

For entries mailed through UPS & FedEx:
Tanya Allison
CaGIS Map Competition
Department of Applied Technology
Montgomery College
7602 Standish Place
Derwood, MD 20855

For entries mailed through USPS or Canadian Post:
Tanya Allison
CaGIS Map Competition
Department of Applied Technology
Montgomery College
51 Mannakee St.
Rockville, MD 20850

For further information please contact Ian Muehlenhaus at

To begin the submission process, please fill out the following online form: