As in all sports, it is necessary to ensure that competition conditions are equal for everyone. In this sense, the greater the accuracy of the map, the more easily this will be achieved and the better conditions there will be to plot good and fair courses.
For orienteers, only an accurate and legible map will be an effective aid in choosing routes that suit their technical and physical capabilities. However, the good ability to make correct choices loses all meaning if the map is not a real image of the terrain, that is, if it is inaccurate, outdated or poorly readable.
Anything that impedes progression is considered essential information: cliffs, water, dense vegetation. The path network indicates where progression and orienteering is easiest. A detailed classification of progression speeds and obstacles, assists the orienteer in making decisions. Orienteering is above all based on map reading. Ideally, no competitor should gain an advantage or suffer a disadvantage due to map errors.
The main goal of the course planner is to create courses where the decisive factor in the results is the orienteering ability. This can only be achieved if the map is, on the one hand, sufficiently accurate, complete and reliable and, on the other, clear and legible in competition situations. The better the map, the better possibilities the planner will have to design good and fair courses, both for experienced athletes and beginners.
Control points (together with the quality of the legs) are the most important component of a course. Choosing locations, placing tapes, checking their position and placing points for the eent are all tasks that require a lot of a map. The map must offer a complete, accurate, detailed image of the terrain and must be up to date in all details that may affect the final classifications.
The mapmaker’s task is to know which terrain elements to place on the map and how to represent them. A good involvement in this sport is important for a basic understanding of the requirements of an Orienteering map: its content, the need for accuracy, the level of detail and, above all, legibility.
As the Orienteering map is a detailed topographic map, it must contain the terrain features that are obvious to an orienteer running. It includes everything that could influence the reading of the map or the choice of routes: landforms, rock formations, type of surface, speed of progression through the vegetation, cultivation areas, hydrography, private areas and individual houses, network of paths, other lines of communication and all other features useful for Orienteering.
The shape of the terrain is one of the most important features on an Orienteering map. The use of contour lines is essential for representing a three-dimensional image of the terrain (its shape and variation in altitude).
The magnitude of the different features of the terrain, the density of the forest and the speed of progression must be considered during field work, taking into account the homogeneity of the final product.
The boundaries between different surface types provide important reference points for the orienteer. The correct representation of these elements on the map is very important.
The orienteer’s speed and route options are influenced by many factors. Information on all these factors must therefore be provided on the map by classifying paths, indicating the passability of marshes, water areas, rock walls and vegetation and showing surface types and the presence of open areas. Well-defined vegetation boundaries on the terrain should also be drawn on the map, as they are useful for reading.
The map must contain all visible elements on the ground that are useful for clear map reading. During fieldwork, the clarity and legibility of the map must be promoted. The minimum measures defined for a good visualization of a given element must be taken into account when choosing the degree of generalization.
The map must contain magnetic north lines and may contain place names and other peripheral text that can help the user orient him to North. This text should be written from west to east. Text within the map area should be placed so that it does not obscure other information and its font style should be simple. The Magnetic North lines must be parallel to the limits of the map sheet, and may contain arrows at their upper end.