As the development of small-scale thematic cartography continues, there is a growing interest in simple graphic solutions, e.g., in the form of numerical values presented on maps to replace or complement well-established quantitative cartographic methods of presentation. Numbers on maps are used as an independent form of data presentation or function as a supplement to the cartographic presentation, becoming a legend placed directly on the map. Despite the frequent use of numbers on maps, this relatively simple form of presentation has not been extensively empirically evaluated. This article presents the results of an empirical study aimed at comparing the usability of numbers on maps for the presentation of quantitative information to frequently used proportional symbols, for simple map-reading tasks. The study showed that the use of numbers on single-variable and two-variable maps results in a greater number of correct answers and also often an improved response time compared to the use of proportional symbols. Interestingly, the introduction of different sizes of numbers did not significantly affect their usability. Thus, it has been proven that—for some tasks—map users accept this bare-bones version of data presentation, often demonstrating a higher level of preference for it than for proportional symbols.
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