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

There is a contradiction within these two sentences, creating some uncertainty as to what the guidelines in practice. A pragmatic position is that offset printing is too expensive and difficult to source for all but major IOF events. Major IOF events include World Championships, JWOC, and Regional Championships such as the Oceania events. Offset would only be required for elite classes. The WMOC could also be construed as being under an offset printing requirement, but a recent WMOC was based on non offset printing.

In all but the exceptional events listed above, map printing will be undertaken with process colour digital printing. Getting a good result requires some dedication and experimentation.

Some useful guides to process printing of orienteering maps

Some very useful guidelines for printing non-offset, spot 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.

A 2008 OA guide to scale choices and printing options can be found here.

In 2002 the IOF Map Commission began a project to gather the latest knowledge about non-offset printing. Results from this project are available at the Print Tech Project Site.

Quality control for non offset, spot colour printed maps

Testing the suitability of non off-set / spot colour print machines for printing high quality orienteering maps is a continuing process. A Print Tech ‘test’ sheet print from a printer in South Australia in May 2015 indicates the map printing depending to some extent on the terrain, should be suitable for WRE’s for the map scale of 1:15000.

2015 Simulate overprinting

A key output of the Print Tech project is a ‘test sheet’ that can be printed from a digital printer for comparison to a spot colour, off set printed version of the same file. Digital copies of the ‘test sheet’ in both OCAD and PDF file format and instructions on using the test sheet may be downloaded from the Print Tech Project Site. The ‘test sheet’ is recommended as a quality control tool for assessing the suitability of a particular printer in respect to print quality and colour reproduction for orienteering maps.

Copies of the Print Tech spot colour, off-set printed ‘test sheet’ may be available from the OA Mapping Committee Chairperson.

When digitally printing maps it is critical that map colours match as much as is possible the colours of the spot colour, off-set printed Print Tech ‘test sheet’.

When comparing map colours it is useful to print colour blocks at one side of the map as per example, and then compare directly to the colour blocks of the ‘test sheet’.

In the same way as above the course marking colour can also be printed as a block colour at the side of the map. The recommended setting for the colour Purple is 30%Cyan, 100%Magenta, 15%Yellow and 0%Black. In OCAD the default colour setting for Purple of 100% Magenta is unsuitable particularly for colour blind orienteers.

As colour output varies from printer to printer, particularly from inkjet printers to laser printers, colour settings may need to be varied for each printer so as to achieve the best result. In all cases it is necessary to do trial print runs of the course map and check colours against the ‘test sheet’, and make adjustments as appropriate. If using an off-white waterproof paper it may be necessary to increase colour strength to ensure good differentiation of map colours.

To assist in the process of matching colour out put to the official colours the following colour swatch charts in OCAD9 format may assist:


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.


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