Printing Orienteering Maps


Printing methods

“For Major IOF events, only spot colour offset printing will be allowed until the IOF decides that the quality of alternative printing methods have reached a sufficient level… Spot colour printing is recommended for [other] IOF Events. Other printing methods may be used, if the colours and symbol sharpness have the same quality as printing with spot colours”. from the ISOM 2017 specification

Background: Over the past decade spot colour offset printing has become less accessible to orienteers. Offset printers have been known to sub-contract orienteering print jobs to digital printers without informing the client. At the same time the quality of process colour digital printing has steadily improved. Under pressures of cost, timeliness and access, Australian orienteering has almost totally transferred to digital printing, In all but the exceptional events listed above, map printing will be undertaken with process colour digital printing. However, digital printing quality is variable. Getting an acceptable result requires some dedication and experimentation.

The IOF PrintTech sheets: As an aid to achieving acceptable print quality at orienteering events, the IOF Mapping Commission developed the PrintTech sheet. This is available in four formats – digital OCAD, digital pdf, paper printed with spot offset print technology and paper printed with digital print technology. The digital formats may be downloaded from the IOF here. The paper copies of the PrintTech sheet were distributed to states at the 2019 mapping meeting in Yackandandah. A very limited number of copies are held by the OA chair of the mapping. Scans of the two paper versions are shown below. Click to enlarge.

PrintTech Sheet processPrintTech Sheet

Using the PrintTech Sheet: First download a digital version of the PrintTech sheet. Print the sheet using your chosen print technology. Then compare your results with the two IOF sheets. The IOF digital print page is for comparison of resolution. In particular, compare the wheels and circles in the centre of the sheet. If the area of moire in the spoked wheels is larger than that in the IOF digital printed sheet, then your printer has lower resolution. If your printer matches the quality of the IOF sheet, fine. If it does not, then you need to carefully consider whether the map will be legible with your chosen printer. In simple spur-gully terrain this may not be an issue. In more complex terrain the printer may not be of sufficient quality. Choose another.

Next task is to compare colours. Compare the colour output of your printer with the colours on the IOF offset printed sheet. Pay particular attention to the purple, brown and yellow. You will not be able to achieve a perfect match, but you need to be close. A comparison of the IOF process digital printed sheet and the IOF offset printed sheet gives a sense of the acceptable variation. It is highly unlikely your first print will match all colours. The next step is to use a colour swatch print to find a better match for the colours that are problematic in your print. Swatches can be downloaded for each colour.

Purple Swatch 2012 9

Blue Swatch 9

Brown Swatch LH 2010 9

Green Swatch 9

Grey Swatch LH 2010 9

Yellow Swatch 9

A test sheet for Pretex paper is available from the Map Sport web site.

Here is an example of the purple sheet.


Using a print of this sheet you should be able to get a closer match to the offset colour. A little further tweaking and you should be there. With a colour match for each colour, someone needs to adjust the colour table of the map… carefully.

*** More detailed instruction on using the PrintTech sheet may be found on the IOF web page here. Read this before embarking on print testing. ***

Timing of the print test: It is important to run another print test of there has been a change of inks in the printer.


Some useful guides to process printing of orienteering maps

Some very useful [but in some cases dated] guidelines for printing non-offset, colour maps are available on the Map Sport web site managed by Ken Dowling. The resources include:

  • A course planner’s guide to digital printing.
  • Achieving overprint in digitally printed maps.
  • A digital press operator’s guide to process orienteering maps.


G-Print paper is recommended by the IOF PrintTech project although in Australia this paper is not available but replaced with Impress DM Matt, 100gsm.

Good quality white copy paper with a weight of 80-120 gsm is recommended for all orienteering maps ie Colotech+ iGen3, DocuColor, colour laser and colour copier, 100g/m2

A paper weight of 100 gsm is recommended when used with a plastic bag thickness of 0.10 mm.

Waterproof paper

Waterproof papers tested as suitable for orienteering maps in Australia include:

  • Pretex: 50.120 (120 gsm)
  • Durapaper 203micron (Teslin)

Reports on waterproof papers


In some cases the control number may be difficult to read particularly where the number is placed over complex areas or solid colour areas. To improve legibility a 0.10 mm – 0.20 mm white boundary may be added to the number. The OA Map Committee has considered (4/08) that this may be used for Sprint maps.

2015 Overprint and white border on Control Numbers

Map Subsets, Legend and Map Boundaries

Good practice dictates that all maps should have a legend, and further no part of the legend should be covered by the control description. Where this is not possible due to insufficient space on the map subset, then as a minimum requirement, a separate legend sheet using the same printer as used for the map should be printed and displayed for all participants.

When selecting a map subset, the map edges should where possible follow easily identified boundaries ie fence lines, roads, major water features, cleared farmland; thereby reducing the likelihood of the orienteer running off the map. This may require consultation with the planner to ensure that there is sufficient space between the edges of the map and any controls or likely route choices.

Logos for major Australian events

The logo for the IOF, Silva National Orienteering League, Orienteering Australia and the Australian Sports Commission are availabe in OCAD 9 format below. The logos may be used on Australian orienteering maps as required.

(1) Non offset printed maps (CMYK)

National logos_9.ocd

(2) Spot colour, offset printed maps

For spot colour, offset printing the colours in the logos may need to be changed to the available spot colours used for orienteering maps (6 spot colours excluding overprinting). The OCAD 9 version below has the logos changed where necessary to the available spot colours:

National Logos Spot Colour Offset Sep 2011_09.ocd