The traditional map on land covers a defined area in terms of its extent in minutes or degrees, or quadrangle.  The edges will be parallels and meridians. The map projection can vary, and at these scales can be hard to distinguish because earth curvature will not be obvious.

US Civil Maps, Quadrangle sizes

Scale Size Notes
1:24,000 7.5x7.5' ~50,000 cover CONUS
1:62,500 15x15' 1 inch to the mile (approximate); no longer used
1:100,000 60'x30'  
1:250,000 2x1 Under 1000 to cover CONUS.  Military usage is JOG, for joint operations graphic

In the US, the color scheme for each scale varies, and experienced users can recognize the scale from the graphic design.  The 1:24K, 1:100K, and 1:250K were available as DRGs, and are now availalbe in the historical map downloads.

The USGS GeoPDF, only for the 1:24K scale, has replaced the older maps and have a distinctive new color scheme.

Three standard paper map scales from USGS, showing the Naval Academy in Annapolis.  Printed on paper, each map is approximately the same physical size, within about a factor of two. 

They are referred to as quadrangle maps, because they are quasi-rectangles bounded by parallels and meridians. 

  • 1:24,000 map
  • covers 7.5' by 7.5'
  • Each pixel is 4 m
  • Largest scale: small area, large detail
  • About 50,000 maps at this scale cover CONUS
  • 1:100,000 map
  • covers 30' x 60'
  • Each pixel is 16 m
  • About 3200 maps at this scale cover CONUS
  • 1:250,000 map
  • covers 1x2
  • Each pixel is 64 m
  • Smallest scale: large area, low detail
  • About 800 maps at this scale cover CONUS


Nautical charts typically cover just the area needed for a harbor or other purpose, and do not necessarily use a common scale or coverage area.

Last revision 2/8/2014