Signs are those elements that, by their nature or through a convention, allow replacing another element or exercising its representation. The signs, moreover, can be constituted as a sign of something.
Cartographic, on the other hand, is that linked to cartography: the discipline dedicated to the design and study of maps.
It can be said that cartographic signs are graphic symbols that are used in a map to represent various elements found on the earth's surface. Usually standardized signs are used whose meanings are shared and understood internationally.
On a map with the roads or routes of a country, to cite a case, we will find numerous cartographic signs that carry useful information for travelers. In this way, we can notice that there are cartographic signs that indicate the presence of a service station ( gas station ), a hospital, a railway crossing and a police station, among other structures.
In these maps, in addition, the different cartographic signs allow to indicate if a road is of earth or is asphalted; if you have to pay a toll to use it; what is the maximum speed allowed, etc.
In the same way, in these maps another type of cartographic signs in addition to the ones already exposed, such as the type of route or route, if there is a campsite, airport, hiking routes, hot springs, restaurants, monuments or places of interest, take center stage. historical and artistic interest, viewpoints, rural type accommodations…
It is important to be clear, in addition to all the above, that within each area or sector there are a series of cartographic signs that are more important or frequent. Thus, for example, it is not the same as the set that a trucker will meet every day with those who have to see and take into consideration an airplane pilot.
Also, in different areas, colors play a very important role as cartographic signs. That supposes, for example, that within the geographic or environmental scope it is resorted to using the blue to refer to any type of mass of water (river, sea, ocean, lake… ), to the black to identify rocky areas, to green for establish an area of intense vegetation or brown to account for the existence of slopes or pits… However, there are many other chromatic tones that are used in this regard, to provide as much information as possible.
The National Geographic Institute of the Argentine Republic, for example, developed a manual of cartographic signs that mentions the precepts that should be considered when publishing a map, the rules for the appropriate use of the cartographic signs, the size they should have and other data.
Specifically, in the aforementioned Argentine document are also established abbreviations that are common to be used in this type of maps and the definition of what are the different geographical features, whether natural or artificial, so they can not lead to confusion to anyone.