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The GeoDataViz Toolkit is a set of resources that will help you communicate your data effectively through the design of compelling visuals. In this repository we are sharing resources, assets and other useful links.
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Basemaps Update Nov 18, 2019
Cartographic Design Principles Update Nov 18, 2019
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Workshops Update May 17, 2019
img GDV Toolkit update Mar 11, 2019 Re-order README contents Sep 24, 2019

GeoDataViz Toolkit

Definition of GeoDataViz: Geographic data visualisation – the design process of turning data concerned with physical, human, or location-based geography into a compelling story or argument; or at the very least a clear visual presentation of information.

Definition of a toolkit: A set of tools, especially one kept in a bag or box and used for a particular purpose.

The GeoDataViz Toolkit is a set of resources that will help you communicate your data effectively through the design of compelling visuals.

In this repository we are sharing resources, assets and other useful links.


Often referred to as a contextual or backdrop map, a basemap contains reference information used to both orient the map and add context to any data that is overlaid.

In this folder you will find information about the OS range of basemap styles, the colour values for each and some additional information.

Cartographic Design Principles

Inspired by Dieter Rams' 'ten principles of good design', we have put together our own set of principles that we believe are fundamental to successful map design.

In this folder you will find our eight Design Principles and a handy checklist.


The use of colour is very often fundamental to the success of a data visualisation. Colour can help with many elements of your design from improving visual contrast to simply catching the eye. Careful use of colour enhances clarity, aids storytelling and draws a viewer into your dataset. Poor use of colour can obscure data, or even mislead.

In this folder you will find a recommended set of colour palettes, information on how to apply colour to your visualisations and links to other useful colour resources.


Symbols help us to include lots of detail on maps.

Maps often contain symbols instead of words to label real-life features and make the maps clearer. With so many features on a map, there would not be enough space to write everything down in words.

Symbols can be small pictures, letters, lines or coloured areas to show features like campsites, pubs or bus stations. If you look closely at a map, you will see that it is covered in symbols. There will often be a legend (or key) next to the map to tell you what the symbols mean.

In this folder you will find a set of Ordnance Survey map symbols, information on how to use symbols effectively and links to other useful map symbol resources.


A workshop is a meeting at which a group of people engage in discussion and activity on a particular topic. We often host workshops at different events and we want to use the GeoDataViz Toolkit to share them more broadly. The topics usually focus on a particular aspect of cartography or data visualisation.

In this folder you will find our workshops which include step-by-step workbooks and data.

Other useful resources

What is data viz? - This article from Infogram is a good starter for ten.

Why data viz? - The first in a mini-series of articles on data visualisation that appeared on the OptaPro blog.

Data Viz Catalogue - A library of different visualisation types.

Data Viz Project - A website trying to present all relevant data visualisations, so you can find the right type and get inspiration on how to do it.

Data Viz tools and resources - A curated guide to the best tools, resources and technologies for data visualisation.

Data Viz Checklist - This checklist is meant to be used as a guide for the development of high impact data visualisations.

ONS DataViz guidance - Guidance for creating charts and tables and best practice for using colour in your work.

FT Visual vocabulary - A superb poster to assist designers and journalists to select the optimal symbology for data visualisations, by the Financial Times Visual Journalism Team. We have one on the wall in OSHQ!

The little of visualisation design - This is a collection of the entire, growing series of posts about the 'little of visualisation design', respecting the small decisions that make a big difference towards the good and bad of this discipline.

Mapbox's guide to map design - This guide is made for designers getting started with maps and experts fine-tuning details for a particular use case.

Axis Maps Cartography Guide - A short, friendly guide to basic principles of map design.


If you have any feedback about the GeoDataViz Toolkit then please raise an issue on this repository.

Thank you

OS GeoDataViz team


The contents of this repository are licensed under the Open Government Licence 3.0


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