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MAP SCALES
Guide

Map scales are a measure of distances on a map.  The numbers in the Scale column below represent a ratio.  The two numbers, separated by a colon, represent the relationship between 1 of any measure and its equivalent in the real world.  For example 1:10,000 means that each inch (or any measure) on the map represents 10,000 inches (or any of the same measure) in the real world.  The smaller the number to the right of the colon the larger the map scale and more specific the map coverage. 

Scale Feet/miles per inch Description
1:10,000 (10K) 833 feet Highly detailed, this scale is primarily used for small cities or parts of larger cities.  A map at this scale usually shows buildings and public facilities.
1:25,000 (25K) 0.4 miles Still very detailed, this scale is commonly used for larger cities.  A city map at this scale usually shows only streets and perhaps the larger public facilities. Topographic maps usually shows things like campgrounds and switchbacks on trails.
1:50,000 (50K) 0.8 miles Only the very largest cities in the world are mapped at this scale.  Names of smaller thoroughfares may or may not be listed.  This is a common scale for a medium-sized city and its metro area.
1:100,000 (100K) 1.6 miles This scale is generally not detailed enough to map a community.  This scale is reasonable to cover lakes, rivers, streams, country roads and parks and still have detail.  Most maps at this scale will show streets, but most will not be named.
1:250,000 (250K) 3.9 miles Highways and country roads are almost always identified at this scale.  Also lakes, rivers, and most streams would be identified, but street detail at this scale is normally out of the question.
1:500,000 (500K) 7.9 miles At this scale a city the size of Dallas is about as big as a silver dollar.  A country the size of Ireland might be mapped at this scale.
1:1,000,000 ((1M) 16 miles At this scale, Dallas would appear to be a little bigger than a quarter.  A type single sheet map of France would be mapped at this scale.
1:2,000,000 (2M) 32 miles This scale is used for maps of larger countries like Brazil, China and the United States.
1:5,000,000 (5M) 79 miles This scale is used for large countries and groups of countries.
1:10,000,000 (10M) 158 miles This scale is used for full continent maps.
1:25,000,000 (25M) 395 miles Maps of this scale are typically world wall maps.
1:50,000,000 (50M) 789 miles Same as above.
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Chicago, Illinois
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