Frequency histogram legend in the choropleth map: A substitute to traditional legends

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


This article presents the use of the frequency histogram legend (FHL) as a substitute to traditional legends in both classed and unclassed choropleth maps. Great variation in the size of mapping units can hinder readers' ability to comprehend statistical distribution from a choropleth map. Replacing conventional legends with FHL can aid readers in their understanding of spatial as well as statistical distributions of the mapped data simultaneously. A customized mapping application we designed in ArcInfo 9.0 to test the use of FHL in both classed and unclassed choropeth maps. Frequency histogram legends were tested on different types of statistical distributions. Although the comparison of the results shows that the FHL works best for a Gaussian or close to a Gaussian distribution for eight or fewer classes, the customized application permits users to generate choropleth maps with frequency histogram legends for any type of statistical distribution with any number of classes. The analysis reveals that readers' background in statistics helped them to effectively utilize and interpret frequency histogram legends in the choropleth maps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-236
Number of pages20
JournalCartography and Geographic Information Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Choropleth map
  • Classed map
  • Frequency histogram legends
  • Gaussian distribution
  • Unclassed maps

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Management of Technology and Innovation
  • Geography, Planning and Development


Dive into the research topics of 'Frequency histogram legend in the choropleth map: A substitute to traditional legends'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this