ACSM 30th Annual Map Design Competition

The purpose of these awards is to promote interest in map design and to recognize significant design advances in cartography. The competition is open to all map-makers in the United States and Canada. Noted cartographers and designers judge the entries based on the following criteria: color, overall design and impression, craftsmanship, and typography. Entries will be displayed at a number of other national and international professional functions and will then become part of the permanent collection of the U.S. Library of Congress. Note that this competition is for map design, so judging will be based on cartographic design criteria, such as creativity, text, balance, unity, clarity, use of color, title, and subject matter.

Students are particularly encouraged to apply for the NGS award. Note the addition of a new electronic category for the student competition.

The deadline for this year's competition is January 15, 2003. Maps completed during 2002 are eligible. Each award is described below.

Professional Category

  • Best of Show
  • Best of Category
    • Thematic -- A map or series of maps on a single sheet designed around a specific thematic purpose not described above, i.e., analytical, educational, historical, illustrative, scientific, topographic, travel maps.
    • Book/Atlas -- Any book or atlas containing original cartographic products.
    • Reference -- A map or series of related maps on a single sheet designed specifically for political and/or physical reference, without any other specific thematic content.
    • Series -- A map or series of related maps on multiple sheets.
    • Other -- Unique, whimsical, or difficult to categorize maps.

Student Category

  • National Geographic Society Award for Best Student Map Design
    • Printed -- A map printed on paper.
    • Electronic -- A map or series of related maps designed specifically for electronic media (i.e., maps on CD, DVD, the Web, etc.) The competition is open to all college-level student mapmakers who have completed and/or published the submitted map during 2002. Each award consists of a cash prize ($200), a National Geographic atlas, and an award certificate. Runner-ups will receive a beautiful National Geographic map or atlas. See last year's award winner for the "printed map" category at

Enter the Competition

To enter the competition, please submit three copies of entries in the Professional category and two in the Student category. The fees are $10 per student map and $20 per professional map. The entry form is available at: .

Please send entries to:
ACSM Map Competition
6 Montgomery Village Avenue Suite 403
Gaithersburg, MD 20879

For further information, please call (240) 632-9716 ext.109.

2001 ACSM Map Design Competition Results are posted at Excerpts from last year's Best of Show and Best Book/Atlas, "Atlas of Oregon, 2nd Edition", are available at