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I have often found it perplexing to use OpenStreetMap as a general-reference map (either from the "slippy" web interface or via third-party applications) due to my inability to find a key or legend to the symbols/styles used in the default mapnik tiles.

For example, what's the difference between blue dashed lines and brown dashed lines? (Based on perusing the data layers, it appears to have to do with whether a trail is predominantly a cycleway or footpath.) But there's no easy way to find that out, aside from looking at the data layers, as above, or the Map Features wiki page, which is hard to find (it took me quite some time to happen across it, and definitely not via any straightforward googling for "legend" etc.), aimed at editors not end-users, and finally, incomplete.

Indeed, I once got rather lost following what I thought to be a foot-trail track, which, on later examination, turned out to be a county boundary instead.

So: is there some reference somewhere which has a clear explication of the various styles used in the default mapnik render? I really can't recommend OpenStreetMap to any of my less-technical friends without something like this, given the trouble I've had myself!

asked 03 Oct '10, 20:35

zachrahan's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

Click 'Map key' on the left of the main page.

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answered 03 Oct '10, 21:05

Richard's gravatar image

Richard ♦
accept rate: 18%


That's a good start, however note that the "Map key" is rather incomplete. For example, most symbols are not explained.

(03 Apr '11, 14:34) sleske

i do not see a map key link on main page. it used to be here but it is not anymore.

(08 Apr '12, 00:15) gorn

It's still there, above "Help".

(08 Apr '12, 12:07) Richard ♦

The most complete and current map key for default style (called shortly osm-carto) is here:

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answered 18 Dec '17, 04:41

kocio's gravatar image

accept rate: 20%

I was also looking for legend/symbols list at the basic Mapnik page; there is a link pointing to '#' and doing nothing else than reloading the current page. There hasn't been much progress in a half year on this subject! (It's been a problem even in oct 2010, 1 comment this month). I'm checking how the old answers work today...

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answered 10 Apr '11, 07:56

hezzu's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%


Works for me by clicking Map Key ! Tell us please what browser on what operating system you are using, and whethet you have JavaScript enabled in your internet browser. In case of doubt, try another browser ...

(10 Apr '11, 11:36) stephan75

Another way is to zoom in to unknown object, then select Data Overlay from layers menu and then click the object to select it. In the left area you will see tags and more details after clicking the Details link.

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answered 11 Apr '11, 21:20

Martin's gravatar image

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Good point. This is severely user-unfriendly, however... though viable if you know OSM's tagging mechanism.

(06 Jul '11, 02:11) sleske

the layers manu has changed and now it has no overlays

(08 Apr '12, 00:15) gorn

The data view is now on the Edit menu.

(08 Apr '12, 12:07) Richard ♦

Hi, I had this problem too. On my android app that integrated OpenStreetMap it didn't provide a link. The MapKey on the OpenStreetMap website was just what I wanted. You can highlight the data and do a copy/paste into Libre Office/Word. It comes across with the images and layout. Set the page size to about 6cm wide and 26cm long. Save it as a PDF and you've got a quick reference legend that's easy to use offline on your smartphone.

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answered 06 Aug '11, 16:30

dplmartin's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

Thanks for the tip. "Map key" is not well visible. Nevertheless, no legend at all for "Cycle map", how can I plan a trip ?

Thanks ! Pascal

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answered 12 Aug '12, 21:12

scaalmap's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

Here's a link to a previous answer to that question.

(12 Aug '12, 21:37) SomeoneElse ♦

On A windows PC "control -" may reduce the size of stuff on screen to reveal all the features. or possibly just scroll down.

(13 Aug '12, 01:01) andy mackey

i agree completely that having "Map Key" on the far left away from all the other controls is a very poor design. how about a tab mid screen on the far right that you can click and it will popout? also, how about having it so that when you click a symbol on the legend that it emboldens that particular element of the map? the UI of OpenStreetMaps should really be redesigned.

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answered 01 May '13, 23:08

Gravis's gravatar image

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question asked: 03 Oct '10, 20:35

question was seen: 70,362 times

last updated: 18 Dec '17, 04:41

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum