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Ordnance Survey’s cartographic house styles

14 Jul 2020
Ordnance Survey
APIscartographic designdevelopersos data hub

Ordnance Survey has a rich cartographic history – we have been mapping the Great British landscape for 229 years! From navigating the countryside on foot to helping utility companies manage and track their assets underfoot, our maps offer a range of functions. As a result, our cartographers make lots of intricate design decisions to ensure that our maps meet the needs of each of our different users.

Our paper maps (and their digital raster data equivalents) carry their own beautiful cartography which is well established and well understood. A great example of this is our OS Explorer Maps. For many, these maps have a sentimental or nostalgic value – they can evoke memories of adventure and can connect the map reader to locations. Cartography is a powerful form of visual communication.

Our cartographic design is diverse – we have mapped Mars and the Moon, and even created beautiful posters of National Parks, motorway junctions and football stadiums. However, for the most part, our mapmakers are focused on designing functional maps for use by members of the public, businesses and government.

For our range of vector data products, our cartographers create stylesheets for use in various mapping software. We share them on Github and they have become an increasingly popular resource amongst our customers.

We have continuously evolved our cartographic house styles. We have recently launched our new suite of mapping APIs on the OS Data Hub where the OS Maps API and OS Vector Tile API have pre-set cartography. Here is some more information about each style which we hope will help you choose the right one for your needs.


Road cartographic style


Outdoor cartographic style


Light cartographic style

Check out our map style example to see how they look in the new OS Maps API.


Leisure cartographic style

Check out our basic map style example to see the Leisure style in the new OS Maps API.

Find your style

You can sign up to the OS Data Hub now and start using our new APIs. Sign up for free – select the OS OpenData plan or choose the Premium plan if you’re creating solutions for others and benefit from up to £1,000 worth of free Premium data each month.
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Ordnance Survey
By Ordnance Survey
Press Office

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