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Wikitravel talk:Common map symbols

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Great! One comment though. The "ranger station" symbol looks suspiciously like the "hostelling international" symbol. Have a look here. DhDh 22:34, 7 Dec 2003 (PST)

Well, gosh. I actually took out a few that were aggregated as Image:servicesigns.svg, and I had to guess on what they were. I just kinda figured that was supposed to be a ranger station or something! I dunno if there's enough closeness to be a copyright violation. Ideas? Should we scrap it to be on the safe side? --Evan 22:37, 7 Dec 2003 (PST)
It's not a Hostelling International© symbol, it's the universal hostel symbol. You can use, for example, the one (731) on this page without any fear of copyright violations, as all the images here (released by the Finnish Road Administration) are in the public domain. Jpatokal 10:37, 2 Aug 2004 (EDT)


I don't think most Americans know what a "WC" is. Perhaps a more universal symbol would be appropriate? Perhaps the common MAN | WOMAN graphic? -- Beland 09:54, 2 Aug 2004 (EDT)

It's not a term Australians use either. I figured it out in Europe because it was actually on toilet doors, but in the context of a map it would be harder. -- Hypatia 05:44, 10 Dec 2004 (EST)

Needed Symbols[edit]

This is a good start, but I think there are still a few more we need. Lets keep a running list of what we need here (feel free to add/delete from this list, discussion should go below the list):

  • Airport 673
  • Parking (differenitate between free and paid?) 521
  • Boating (kayaking, canoeing, fishing) 744
Signs above courtesy of the Finnish taxpayer (and all public domain). Jpatokal 12:22, 30 Aug 2004 (EDT)
Obviously a good place to get these, but I think they still need to be standardized and put on our symbols page. -- Webgeer 12:48, Aug 30, 2004 (EDT)
Done and done. I created a different symbol for boating since the finnish one looked more specific to just fishing. I have SVG files, but I haven't figured out how to upload them (the image upload page rejects the SVG extension). --Neil C 03:57, 31 Aug 2004 (EDT)
  • Boat or ferry launch
  • Train station
  • Post office
  • Open market
  • Covered market
  • Dept. Store

I have thought that the following symbols for mapmakers would be also useful for tourists: --Tomwebbnz 01:03, 1 Sep 2005 (EDT)

  • Main Highways
  • Secondary Roads
  • Unsealed Roads
  • Motor Camps
  • Golf Courses
  • Ski Fields
  • Picnic Areas
  • Thermal Areas
  • Walkways
  • Historic Buildings
  • National Parks
  • Forest Parks
  • Mountains
  • Rivers
  • Schools
  • Toll Plazas
At least some of the things in this list might be better communicated using color rather than an icon. That said I did make a US highway icon for my map of Carbondale. I guess I should upload a generic version to the symbols page.
Also, I'd really like to point out the usefulness of trying to align the icons with the sections of a Wikitravel guide: Do & See, Eat, Drink, Sleep, etc. -- Mark 10:24, 2 Sep 2005 (EDT)

We need symbols which coorespond with the MOS[edit]

I've been trying to incorporate listings with the maps I've been making (see Paris or Kathmandu, and have run into a couple of problems, mainly that the symbols or icons that we have so far are often too detailed to work well on a map, and that they don't corespond well with the the template sections from our Wikitravel:Manual of style. What I would really like to have is specific consitant symbols for Eat, Drink, Do, See, and Sleep. Preferably the icons for each of these would be really really simple, and could contain a number, so that we don't have to have the number sitting there next to the icon. This would help a lot in tight spots with lots of listings.

I guess the Do and See icons could just be a little circle or a square, and Sleep could be shaped like a little house, but what about Eat listings. I'd like to hear some more opinions about this before I plunge forward with establishing these icons.

Of course we'll still need the existing symbols as well, and some more, like say, hospital. -- Mark 12:02, 3 Dec 2004 (EST)

I'd suggest keeping the numbers outside the symbols, as I think this will actually help in tight spots -- a symbol with a number in it requires more width and height to be legible. Look at Lonely Planet: they use solid squares, circles and triangles with the numbers laid out next to them, which means they can pack symbols tightly in one direction and leave the numbers out to the side. Jpatokal 05:34, 10 Dec 2004 (EST)
My actual experience seems to differ with this. Check out the history of Image:Paris_1st.png. To my eye the listing icons with the number inside look a lot nicer. They certainly are easier to work with, but that's not necessarily the most important thing.
Of course I think my maps are better than Lonely Planet's anyhow. ;) -- Mark 05:48, 10 Dec 2004 (EST)

I think the number-in-the-generic-symbol approach works pretty well. I even managed to fit fairly legible numbers inside the "teepee" symbol for tent camping on Image:IsleRoyaleMap.png. I've also added some additional symbols and reorganized them all according to the MoS sections. Todd VerBeek 13:30, 20 March 2006 (EST)

I think we need a symbol for woods?

Green? Jpatokal 06:36, 28 January 2007 (EST)

What Are WikiTravellers' Thoughts On Driving Maps[edit]

One of the useful things that I have found when travelling to new places is picking up maps showing driving times between locations on a map - i.e. the driving times between towns and cities. Always helps me plan when I driving around a new part of a country. What are everyone's thoughts on this idea?? I thought it might help make WikiTravel based maps a truly great thing to have and I know that personally I would think that this type of travel map would be a BIG reason for me to refer to WikiTravel for map information... --Tomwebbnz 01:02, 1 Sep 2005 (EDT)

I suppose that they would be useful for those travellers who drive to places. Me, I'm mostly interested in producing street-level maps of a destination for use once you get there. For the most part these are biased toward walking or use of public transportation, on the argument that many travellers arrive by other means than a car, and often find themselves carfree when exploring a destination. -- Mark 10:19, 2 Sep 2005 (EDT)

"See and Do" color error[edit]

Color for the "See and Do" symbol is erroneous, being the same as for "Buy." Can someone recommend one that's better? I'm using 0058aeff with reasonable success. -- Bill-on-the-Hill 19:45, 8 Jan 2006 (EST)

I've changed the page to suggest your color values. Todd VerBeek 11:09, 20 March 2006 (EST)
That reminds me. I'm going to have to upload new SVG versions with color and numbers. I'll see about it tonight or tomorrow.
There's also a problem with the new first-aid icon: It's the red cross emblem (or actually since the background is dark it's a Swiss flag). This will work OK for western countries but it's better to have something more universal. When I was working on my new theme we came up with a green medical cross. -- Mark 11:33, 20 March 2006 (EST)
Good point, but it's only a red cross (or Swiss flag) if it's colored red. If left black or colored another color (yes, green is popular), that shape is an almost universally recognized symbol. Todd VerBeek 15:53, 21 March 2006 (EST)
Either way it's still a cross, which means it doesn't work in some countries. We had a pretty long discussion about this at the time that I first started using a red cross, which is why the green medical cross came to be. -- Mark 23:28, 21 March 2006 (EST)
Well, you'll have to pardon me for not immediately grasping why a green medical cross somehow isn't a cross. Todd VerBeek 00:24, 22 March 2006 (EST)

Medical Star[edit]

Icon stay healthy.png

I was mistakenly calling it a cross. I think it was User:cjensen who steered me towards this as a universally usable alternative. I was using a simple red cross like the one Red Cross emblem (of three now). -- Mark 04:07, 22 March 2006 (EST)

But but but it's got six points like the Star of David and is thus a symbol of Zionist conspiracies and oppression! And there's a cross hidden inside so the Crusaders are in on it too! And worst of all they're adopting the Islamic motif of crescent and star! <frothing at the mouth
If we're going to go all PC and start adopting unrecognizable symbols, then we might as well go whole hog and use the new ICRC-approved Red Crystal. However, it would seem to be more sensible to use a red cross, as it's the standard right across the world including many places that don't give a fig about the Christian connotations — including China, Japan, India and even in the world's largest Muslim country Indonesia. I can only see the Red Crescent/Magen David Adom adopted in those countries where this is actually used, and even then I'm less than convinced that using the unfamiliar symbol on the map is much of a service to the traveller — even if they might need to recognize it to spot the clinic/hospital/whatever. Jpatokal 09:07, 22 March 2006 (EST)
That symbol isn't completely unrecognizable; it's commonly used (usually with a Caduceus inside) in medical-alert bracelets and other similar contexts as a sign for "medicine". The main problem with it is that iconized and reduced, it looks like an asterisk. Todd VerBeek 11:06, 22 March 2006 (EST)
OK, fine with me. I think Colin's objection to my use of the red cross in the actual skin was on account of the difficulty of chaging the icon according to the destination. (Of course I really should let him speak for himself.) As a map icon that isn't a problem. So let's use the red cross/crescent/lozenge^h^h^h^h^h^h^hcrystal on maps, and the medical star thing in the skin (should that ever happen). -- Mark 09:18, 22 March 2006 (EST)
My first instinct when the "cross" question came up was to suggest using the "crystal" instead, but I'm afraid that would be a misappropriation. The Red Cr* people have stipulated that it's only supposed to be used as a "don't shoot us" emblem and as a symbol for their member organizations. So it has neither popular recognition, nor permission for use as a generic "first aid" symbol. Granted, the red cross isn't supposed to be used generically either, but the shape (in black or another color) is generic enough, and well enough associated internationally with medical aid, to be of use on Wikitravel maps. Todd VerBeek 11:06, 22 March 2006 (EST)


I've found a couple of sources for good public-domain symbols in EPS format, both courtesy of the U.S. government: [1] [2]

ATM $[edit]

I replaced the "$" in the ATM graphic with the generic currency symbol, to make it less US-centric. - Todd VerBeek 12:56, 6 April 2006 (EDT)

Sorry, but I don't think anybody other than us hardcore geeks will recognize that. Again, as with the Red Cross thing I don't think anybody is going to get their panties in a twist over this, but if you must how about just a stylized bill with a head profile and "100" in two corners? Jpatokal 13:04, 6 April 2006 (EDT)
How legible would that be when the icon is reduced enough to fit on a map? People probably won't recognize the generic currency symbol, but the whole point of its design was to look like a currency symbol without matching any of the real ones. I think it works. And I'm not trying to avoid upsetting some hypothetical person whom you don't believe exists; I think a dollar sign on a map of London or Istanbul or Kyoto looks bad. It's a regionalism that looks out of place - and perhaps a bit clueless - in places where other currency symbols are used. - Todd VerBeek 14:14, 6 April 2006 (EDT)
I also don't love the current ATM symbol, it took me way to long to even figure out what the graphic was supposed to be. LP by the way uses $ symbols on the maps throughout their guides to denote banks and atm's, it's not that weird. I think that whole symbol should just be replaced with a $ sign, it's the most instantly recongnizable and would reduce well - Cacahuate 03:19, 21 February 2007 (EST)

One down, one to go[edit]

I've added a post office symbol (it's surprising that it's taken so long to add considering how obvious and simple the symbol is) which just leaves the police symbol left. Personally I can't think of an obvious, universal police symbol aside from handcuffs which probably sends out the wrong message. Maybe a figure in uniform? Not sure, anyone else have any good ideas?

Good work! A figure in uniform sounds good for police... But then to avoid PC concerns about whether it should be a male figure or female, I suggest just a cap. — Ravikiran 05:16, 30 August 2006 (EDT)
Or what about an icon of the lights that flash on top of police cars. Those have a fairly universal look. Texugo 06:42, 30 August 2006 (EDT)
The envelope is a really good idea. We'll probably have to fatten the lines up a bit to work on the maps, but probably not too much. There are still other symbols on the page which don't work well on maps either, so I guess there's a bit more work to do anyhow.
As for the police symbol lets just make sure that it's very simple so that it reduces well. -- Mark 07:23, 30 August 2006 (EDT)

OK I've got a few possibilities to toss out, based on the comments above:

Police1.png Police2.png Police3.png Police4.png
Figure in uniform
(blatantly stolen
from park ranger)
Badge Cap Flashing lights

Any preferences? --Paul. 19:26, 30 August 2006 (EDT)

I am surprised everyone missed out giving feedback on this. I like the figure in uniform best. — Ravikiran 01:28, 7 October 2006 (EDT)
  • I also support the uniformed figure.
    • The concept of the figure is OK, but I'm not sure how well it will scale down. Can we chop off his legs and just leave the upper torso? Jpatokal 04:04, 21 February 2007 (EST)

Yeah, cut off the pig's legs. :) I'm also not crazy about the park-ranger symbol this is dervived from (it doesn't read well when reduced). Would it still work if we gave the ranger the same head-and-torso treatment? (I also have to remark that the "flashing lights" symbol looks to me like a couple arguing in their car.) - Todd VerBeek 10:27, 21 February 2007 (EST)

Light & Underground rail added[edit]

I'm currently working on a map of Birmingham, which has a light rail system. Because the light rail runs next to the mainline rail I needed to create a symbol for light rail stations that was clearly different from standard rail stations. I figured since I'd created it I might as well upload it here, and while I was at it I also made an underground rail symbol, which I remember being a problem for some other map makers. --Paul. 22:43, 6 October 2006 (EDT)

Missing svg versions[edit]

We seem to be missing vector versions of some of the symbols:

Anyone know where we can find these?

--NJR_ZA 03:19, 21 February 2007 (EST)

The most complete svg work on the logo is Image:Treatment.svg. This could probably stand to have a different name. -- Mark 11:20, 21 February 2007 (EST)
Very nice, thanks --NJR_ZA 03:21, 22 February 2007 (EST)

All fixed - I'll add these to the template soon.

Church symbol - and other religious buildings[edit]

I think the church symbol should be a cross... and mosque should be a crescent, and star of david for jewish temples... and something for Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Buddhist... - Cacahuate 03:23, 21 February 2007 (EST)

We may need to be a bit careful - rather than trying to use a symbol that is specific to each religion it might be best to avoid any controversy and simply keep the generic "religious building" icon, or perhaps modify it to make it look less like a church. -- Ryan 03:33, 21 February 2007 (EST)
That sounds like precisely the wrong approach to me — I don't think most Jews would appreciate a synagogue being marked with a symbol of the false Messiah, for example. Each religion has its own symbols, so why not just standardize those? The three listed above are straightforward. For Sikhism, WP has a nice PD Khanda in SVG format. For Buddhism the obvious symbol is the swastika, but that's a little iffy... Wikipedia uses a dharma wheel though. For Hinduism, I'd suggest the Shaivite Trishula, although Wikipedia uses the "Om" symbol instead. Jpatokal 04:04, 21 February 2007 (EST)
For Buddhism the dharma wheel is here, or also something like this (but without the outer lotus} would be cool. The Trishula or the Om both sound good for Hinduism... - Cacahuate 04:12, 21 February 2007 (EST)
-1 for the idea of a common symbol for different religions it is usually important to people which religion the building belongs to. I don't mind the idea of a trishula as the symbol for Hinduism, though we must brace ourselves for people periodically asking "Hey - why does it show a trishul when it is actually a Krishna temple?" -1 for the idea of using the swastika for anything. Apart from the obvious problems, there is the added scope of confusion between a Hindu and a Buddhist temple (I for one associate the swastika with Hinduism.) And the universal Jain symbol exists, but apparently hasn't been named [3] [4], having been adopted only recently, but I've seen it commonly being used by the Jains here in Mumbai. (I thought it was called the Navkar, but it turns out that I am wrong. The Navkar symbol is different and vastly more complicated to use.[5]) — Ravikiran 08:46, 21 February 2007 (EST)
Whatever we use, it has to be simple enough to be legible when scaled down. That compound Jain symbol is too intricate, but the hand by itself might work. I definitely prefer the Dharma wheel or outline of the Buddha over the swastika for Buddhism. I have no particular preference over the Om or Trisula for Hinduism. The Cross, Crescent, Magen David, and Khanda all get my vote for Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and Sikh places of worship. The Torii [6] seems like a good symbol for Shinto shrines, and the Taijitu [7] for Taoist temples. What about Confucian temples? Bahai has few places of worship, but the 9-pointed star [8] should work for those. Do we need symbols for any other religious sites? - Todd VerBeek 10:27, 21 February 2007 (EST)
I've seen the Jain hand alone as a symbol before, I would vote for that. Agree that swastika should stay out for all above reasons. Other new suggestion look good too! - Cacahuate 14:59, 21 February 2007 (EST)
The water symbol [9] should scale down well enough to use for Confucianism. --NJR_ZA 08:21, 22 February 2007 (EST)
No, that would not be understood at all if you eg. showed it to somebody in East Asia — they'd think you were looking for a place to drink or something! I just checked Mapion (Japan's version of Google Maps), but Confucian shrines are sufficiently rare that they just get the three-dot therefore sign (∴) for "historical landmark". Sigh. Jpatokal 09:08, 22 February 2007 (EST)
I don't know what it's called but I've found this [10] used as a symbol for Confucianism on comparitive-religions sites. - Todd VerBeek 10:18, 23 February 2007 (EST)
That's "double happiness", and it's usually used in China on festive occasions like weddings. No relation whatsoever to Confucianism, I'm afraid. Jpatokal 12:08, 23 February 2007 (EST)

Multiple symbols for 1 location?[edit]

The initial map. Multiple symbols but looks far to cluttered
Single symbols, but duplicate location info
Multiple symbols and names to the side

Should we put a symbol on the map for every destination even if they're the same place (as is the case with Zion National Park where Zion Lodge and both its restaurants all have symbols), or should we just list the main place (in this case, Zion Lodge) and then under the drink heading put "see 3"? I think the latter will make for simpler maps, but it conflicts with our current numbering system where we do 1-x for each section. Lonely Planet works around this by not starting over at 1 again for each section... so for a given article 1-14 might be sleep, 15-22 eat, 23-48 see, etc... - Cacahuate 17:18, 22 February 2007 (EST)

Single symbols per location will probably be better on maps covering a large area. The problem with the multiple symbols, as I have it on the Zion map at the moment, is that it takes up a lot of space and someone viewing the map may not be sure if it they are all at the same location or separate. The current system works well for detailed city maps, but when the map covers a large area it does pose a bit of a problem. --NJR_ZA 17:26, 22 February 2007 (EST)
Yeah, I think for pretty much everywhere we could just use the "see x" method. For instance in LA, if I make a map of the Melrose area and want to list the two hot new spots (Pinkberry and M Cafe) that are next door to each other, depending on how small and detailed the map is, it might make more sense to show M Cafe (#x) on the symbol, and "see #x" next to Pinkberry in the guide key. But at anyrate if we at least use continuous numbering then it gives the option for that if necessary... - Cacahuate 18:16, 22 February 2007 (EST)
Possible something like this image? List the places with simple squares and then rather than use the other symbols on the map, add them to the annotation box. --NJR_ZA 23:39, 22 February 2007 (EST)
I would prefer to see the symbols on the map if possible, since that makes it easier for people to pick out "where are the camp sites?" or "where's a toilet?" taking the most advantage of their symbolness. If there are multiple symbols that apply to a location, lining them up neatly in a row will (hopefully) make out it clear that they all apply to the same spot. Or line them up in a blank area on the map, and connect them to that spot, kind of like I did for some very cluttered locales on Isle Royale. This usually wouldn't work for a city map (which won't have blank areas), but for a park map this kind of "stacking" of services is more common and easy to accommodate this way. One other concern I have about this map is the duplication of information: if the names are the legend, they don't need to be on the map. - Todd VerBeek 09:28, 23 February 2007 (EST)

For Parks I suppose it doesn't bother that much to have all of the symbols on the map, but as you say, it will be harder for cities. What I was suggesting was something to the effect of:

Map Key:

1. mikey's
2. freddy's
3. jack's
4. moe's
5. donut hut
6. finger lickin chicken
(see #2) ice cream hut
7. sushi bar
8. temple
9. lake
10. movie theater

So on this map you would use the sleep symbol for Freddy's (#2), and ice cream hut is in the basement or whatever of Freddy's. This is how some of the printed guidebooks do it, and I think it makes for uncluttered and easy to use maps... agree with Todd about the duplication of info, just list it in the Map key if possible... thoughts? - Cacahuate 12:03, 23 February 2007 (EST)

Zion is going to have more maps than what they will know what to do with :), but it's good to see some different approaches to find out what works best. I'm not really happy with any of these, so I'm not going to voice an opinion just yet. I'll wait a bit to see what other bright ideas you guys come up with and play around a bit more on a 4th version. --NJR_ZA 12:54, 23 February 2007 (EST)

A couple new symbols?[edit]

In making my first country map Image:Map of Afghanistan.png I came across a couple things...

Capital cities[edit]

Should we make a "star" symbol to use for capital cities, or just use enlarged dots? For now I put a star for Kabul, but enlarged dots for Dushanbe and Islamabad, let me know if anyone has a preference... – cacahuate talk 02:05, 29 April 2007 (EDT)

Border crossings[edit]

I would love if someone came up with a great symbol for International border crossings... I can't think of anything, so just used an X for now... green for the ones open to all, red for ones that people may wonder about but will most likely not be able to use (in the case of Afghanistan, these are open to military and gov't only, but people ask about crossing them frequently). – cacahuate talk 02:05, 29 April 2007 (EDT)

I've been using larger dots for capitals up to now, but the star might be a good idea, lets see if we can get one or more opinion of that and then go with whatever the majority rule. As for the border crossings, I'm not to fond of the cross idea; one might want to number the crossings so that one can reference them from the annotation on the side, but a cross does not leave a lot of space for numbering. I'll play around a bit and see if I can design a nice border crossing symbol. That Afghanistan map looks good :) --NJR_ZA 12:40, 29 April 2007 (EDT)
How about these Image:Wikitravel-Symbols-Borderposts.svg for the border crossings? --NJR_ZA 12:51, 29 April 2007 (EDT)
That's PERFECT! I'm gonna add them to Afghanistan now... you should put them in the template... – cacahuate talk 18:20, 29 April 2007 (EDT)

Why not use Aiga symbols[edit]

This may have been raised some years ago, but why not use the standardied Aiga symbols? [11] are in the Public Domain.

We kinda do... I think Nick perfected a few of those for our use – cacahuate talk 21:28, 21 July 2008 (EDT)

PD Port symbol[edit]

Do we have any PD symbol for ports? I want to mark a main dock in St Petersburg, but don't have an icon for that. --Peter Talk 12:00, 29 September 2008 (EDT)

Looking at the AIGA symbols posted above, you could try this one: [12]. LtPowers 14:54, 29 September 2008 (EDT)
Image:Wikitravel-map-template-PD.svg contains various PD clipart, including port, ferry dock, airport and rail transport. Most of those symbols were taken from the OpenClipart downloadable CD. --Nick 15:54, 29 September 2008 (EDT)
I added a ferry icon to Template_for_districts.svg. --globe-trotter 13:52, 24 January 2010 (EST)