The National Archives Catalog

Scale Note

Mandatory Repeatable Data Type Authority Level Available A/V Only Public Element
No No Variable Character Length (2000) None Series
File Unit
No Yes



The level of detail in cartographic or architectural documents expressed as a numerical ratio to one, which may have been computed from the verbal or bar scales included on the materials.

A map at the scale of 1:10,000 (one unit on the map equals 10,000 of the same units on the ground) would generally be considered a large scale or detailed map, such as a city plan; whereas a map at the scale of 1:10,000,000 (one unit on the map equals 10,000,000 of the same units on the ground) would generally be considered a small scale or limited detail map, such as a small continent on a single sheet.


Purpose: Allows maps, scaled drawings, and aerial photographs to be compared in terms of the detail of the documents.


Relationship: This element is independent.


Guidance: Enter the scales stated as ratios to one and convert verbal or bar scale information into ratios to one. Scales can be an estimated ratio. Complex verbal scales, archaic measurement terminology, and related information may be included.

If Scale Note uses an acronym that is not defined in either Title or Scope and Content Note, define the acronym the first time that it is used in Scale Note. Consult the Abbreviations section for further guidance on other abbreviation topics.




1 inch to approximately 90 miles.


The charts are drawn at the 1:250,000 scale (one inch equals 3.43 nautical miles).

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