Here is a list of descriptive features that you may want to include in a description. Please remember that not everything in this list has to be included! On the other hand, there may be features not listed here that you may wish to include.

The success of your description will depend as much upon its clarity and organization as upon what is and what is not included!

  1. Uniformity of topography throughout the region or the existence of distinctly different areas that may require separate description.

  2. The general elevation and relief of the region.

  3. The proportion of hilly to flat land.

  4. The locations of flat and hilly regions; their relationships to each other.

  5. The relief of the hilly and flat areas.

  6. If distinctive, the shapes of hills or groups of hills.

  7. The general slope and steepness of the land.

  8. The orientation of linear features: e.g., parallel, radial, perpendicular; their compass directions.

  9. The number and spacing of streams: e.g., none, few, many; clustered, dispersed.

  10. General characteristics of individual streams: e.g., size, geometry (straight, crooked, S-shaped, etc.); gradient; etc.

  11. Characteristics of stream systems: e.g., streams are parallel to each other; intersect at acute angles, right angles; flow towards or away from a common point; etc.

  12. Relationships between streams and the valleys in which they flow: flow in steep, narrow valleys; flow across broad, flat plains; flow between linear hills; cut across hills; etc.

  13. The presence, size, shape, distribution of lakes, swamps, marshes. Relationship of these to streams.

  14. The presence of a coast line; its geometry (straight, indented, curved, irregular, etc.).

  15. The presence of cliffs, depressions, islands, peninsulas, straits, waterfalls; 'braided streams'; or other interesting features.

Now it is time to examine the contour map carefully and assemble the data upon which your description will be based. Go back to the menu and click on 'Example- Assembling the Data'.

David J. Leveson