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 (2016). Students are particularly encouraged to apply for the award 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 Student Competition

Each student award consists of a cash prize ($500) and a copy of Avenza MAPublisher. 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.

There are NO FEES for student entries.

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).


About the Professional Competition

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.

Professional entries are $10 for each professional map submitted.

How to Enter

Submit your entry by January 31, 2017. (All submissions must be received by this date.)

Please complete and print the form below. Include the completed form with one, full-size, print copy of your map or map product and mail to Daniel Cole at the Smithsonian Institute. Use the appropriate address depending on the service you are using to mailing your map.

Submission Forms: DOCX | PDF

Submission Directions

Please email a digital copy, or link to your digital map, to the following address:

Mail a print copy of your map or map product to Daniel Cole.

For entries mailed through UPS & FedEx:
Daniel Cole
CaGIS Map Competition
Smithsonian Institute
IT Office, MRC 136
1000 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20560

For entries mailed through USPS or International Post:
Daniel Cole
CaGIS Map Competition
Smithsonian Institute
IT Office, MRC 136
P.O. Box 37012
Washington, DC 20013-7012


Payment (for Professional Submissions Only)
You may pay in one of two ways. You can either pay via PayPal or you can send a check with your submission.

For further information please contact Ian Muehlenhaus at