Typefaces on Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 maps

Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   Text © Copyright October 2021, David Hawgood; licensed for re-use under a Creative Commons Licence.


Examples displayed in this article are from the Landranger 1:50,000 scale map Second series. The 1km square grid reference is shown as a link with each map extract, click it to open the Geograph page for the square, click map on that to show current OS maps at other scales; the page also has links to other mapping.

Placenames and land features

Towns are in Gill Sans capitals, size increasing with population; village names and parts of towns have lower case. For natural features type size increases with extent.

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright
1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright

SE3332 LEEDS 22point capitals

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright
1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright

SP0398 WALSALL in 18 point capitals, placename. WALSALL italic capitals, administrative district name.

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SJ7194 IRLAM 12 point

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright NT5347 LAUDER 12 point, a former Royal Burgh with a population around 1800. Even small towns are in capitals.


1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SJ9283 Poynton 10 point with lower case, population 2001 around 14,000 but a village when map was laid out

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SO9337 Westmancote, 8 point

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SO9335 Kinsham, 6 point

Water features, blue letters


1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SZ4590 narrow watercourse, blue letters with lower case

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SU4807 wide watercourse, blue letters in capitals

Blue letters are also used for inland lakes, ocean bays and channels, type size varying with extent of feature.

Antiquities

Roman antiquities and sites in capitals, a different sans serif typeface from the Gill Sans used for most names, but mainly looking similar. Pre- and post-Roman antiquities are in a Gothic typeface

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright NY7266
TURRET is Roman, Mare & foal in Gothic are pre-Roman standing stones

Danger area, red lettering

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright TL8382
Coastal footpaths which can be dangerous through tide or mud may have red warning notes on maps, for example around SD4075 Morecambe Bay

Road numbers and services

Most road numbers and service area names are the same colour as the road, but brown B-roads have red numbers (example see SO9335 Kinsham above).
1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright
1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright
NZ3037

Names run along features and routes


1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright
1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright

SO7642 shows the HILLS of MALVERN HILLS along the crest

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright SP0633 shows Cotswold Way along the path


1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright NR6921 Letter K of KINTYRE, the rest is spread for 40 km along the peninsula


District name, italic capitals

In England district names are shown, see the Walsall example SP0398 above.

Margins of paper map

County names are in the margin of paper maps, but usually not within the map area.
1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright
1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright

Some detached areas have county names on map, e.g. island of Inchmarnock at NS0258.

Administrative area names are shown in the margin; the subdivisions of countries have changed several times so what is shown depends on revision date.
Names and destinations of roads and routes are shown in the margin, also some features like Cotswold Hills or North Sea. The continuations of names of large features are in the margin, for example Strathmore has ATH on map 54 around NO4254, the STR and MORE in margins.

Capital I, small L, number 1

Capital I on map is a vertical stroke, small L is sometimes the same, sometimes has a curved foot, number 1 has a horizontal stroke at the top.

1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright
1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright
NC1850
"Iosal" has capital I and lower-case l with curved foot. In top left of map extract, "Eilian" has a straight lower-case l. The spot height "71" on Eilian Ard has a serif at the top of the number 1.

1st Series 1:50,000 and 7th Series 1" to 1 mile maps

The type sizes on Second Series are similar to the hierarchy of typefaces on 1" to 1 mile maps, also used on 1:50,000 1st Series. See Gill Sans typefaces on OS mapsExternal link Article by David Millbank Challis in the journal Sheetlines of the Charles Close Society, April 2017, p2 to 8.
This includes a table of OS 7th Series 1" to 1 mile map typefaces which is also in "Ordnance Survey Maps - a Descripmaps tive Manual" by J B Harley (Ordnance Survey, Southampton, 1975). This shows typeface for towns increasing in size for populations under 10 thousand, then over 10, 30, 100, 200 and 500 thousand. The town examples are Leeds at SP0398, Cardiff ST2278, Brighton TQ3203, Caerphilly ST1787, Penarth ST1970, and Penistone SE2303. Other places include Rhigos SN9205, Harston SK8331, Coity SS9281, sizes down to the (rems of) for example at TL7280 .


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