Reading a map appears to create a number of problems for many people. Therefore it is appropriate to approach the subject by using a number of pointers. Initially, one needs to ascertain the purpose of map reading. Normally, there would only be two reasons for map reading. The first is simply to identify the location of a place of interest to the reader and the second is to assist in travel, namely to plot a route from one place to another. If we take the second issue, that of direction, in my opinion the following steps should act as a guide when reading a map.
1) Identify your location. To use a map as a directional guide one needs first of all to ascertain the starting point. If one has no idea where he or she is starting from, there is no hope of them being able to plot a route to their destination. If you know the start point then all you need to do is find this on the map.
2) Identify your destination. If one does not know where the destination is located on the map, there is no chance of being able to construct a feasible and meaningful route to where you are going.
3) Links. One of the biggest problems with map reading, unless one has a compass available, is deciding which direction one needs to take initially. Remember the map may not reflect the actual position you are facing. To combat this problem, it is always helpful to identify key points between the start and destination points. Three or four links of this nature will enable a successful journey.
With the advances of technology, map reading has increasing become a forgotten craft. With GPS and on line directional tools, the ability to be able to read a map seems to have diminished in importance. However, there is always the possibility that at a given time, there will be a need to be able to finds ones way to a given point in a situation where such aids are not available. A typical example would be were one is engaged upon backpacking or rambling activities. In these instances the ability to read a map can make a significant difference.