Publishing Geologic Maps through NBMG

Frequently Asked Questions

NBMG accepts manuscripts for publication from both in-house geologists and outside authors. An author should provide to NBMG a manuscript and/or map with all pertinent figures and tables referred to in the text.

Q. Is there a cost involved in publishing a geologic map through NBMG?

A. In the past, NBMG was able to support publishing geologic maps by using State funds to cover the cartography, GIS, typesetting, layout, and editorial work. However, due to lack of State funding for the Cartography & GIS group over the years, the group is now mostly soft funded, which means there is indeed a cost involved in publishing maps since we now need to bill for all publication work.

Q. What if I don’t have funds to publish the geologic map? Can I still get my map published?

A. In most cases, an author or organization requesting our services will have funds to cover our work. In other cases the author does not have funds to cover our work, so in those situations what usually happens is

  1. an internal discussion between our Director and others will occur to determine

    a) whether we have internal funds available or
    b) whether we need to seek funds from an outside organization.

If we need to seek funds, then the publication process and timeline depends on where/when we can secure funds.

Q. Does my map need to be in GIS in order to submit for publication?

A. No. While maps completed in GIS are preferred, we accept maps that have their final layout compiled in Adobe Illustrator. If the map is submitted to us in Illustrator and there are not sufficient funds to cover a conversion to GIS format during the publication process then we will publish it in Illustrator format and may later convert it to GIS during a future project.

Q. Does my map need to be peer-reviewed?

A.  It depends on a variety of factors. If your map will be published as an Open-File Report, then no peer-review is necessary. If your map will be published in the Map (M-series) category, then a peer-review is required. NBMG arranges the office review and optional field review. Usually two, sometimes three, reviewers are required depending on what seems appropriate. NBMG previously required field reviews for all geologic maps in the Maps category, but now it depends on various considerations including cost, map importance, and map quality.

Q. What does the peer-review process entail?

A. Peer-reviewers will be geologists or others with expertise on the publication topic. The peer-review process will include a general evaluation of the viability of the geologic relationships depicted in the publication (i.e., does the stratigraphy and structure presented adhere to plausible geologic conventions?) as well as an evaluation of the details in the publication to determine if the data presented works within the region’s geologic framework. This review may result in questions and requests for clarification from the map author(s).

Q. What is the difference between a map published as an Open-File Report vs. Map series?

A.  Open-File reports do not go through the peer-review process. They also do not receive as detailed of cartographic work (e.g., unit and attitude labels are not usually hand-placed) or as thorough of an editorial review as maps in the Map series. Typically the accompanying text for Map series consists of a more thorough geologic summary in addition to unit descriptions whereas an Open-File Report may only consist of a brief introduction with unit descriptions.

Q. What symbols should I use on my geologic map?

A. NBMG adheres to the USGS-FGDC Geologic Symbols standard as closely as possible for all geologic features shown on maps. This standard has been agreed upon by the USGS and the state geological surveys (Association of American State Geologists). This geologic symbol standard is available at NBMG’s exceptions to this standard are available here.

More information about geologic map standards and guidelines can be found at

For structure data, NBMG uses right-hand rule. Please let us know if you use something other than right-hand rule for your structure data. We will need to know where the zero origin is.

For authors with their maps in ArcGIS, NBMG maintains a .style file of commonly used USGS-FGDC symbols already predefined. This .style file and other associated files available here (be sure to look at the "NBMG_README" file).

Following these standard symbols as closely as possible will help ensure a quicker and easier publication process. Authors who do not have the capability to generate a map following these symbols can still submit their map, but it will require more time for NBMG to publish.

Related information:
National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program (NCGMP) website
--\NCGMP standards webpage
----\NCGMP standards and guidelines

Additional Resources

Q. Is there a font for Cambrian “C”, Pennsylvanian “P”, Triassic “TR”, etc. that I can use in my map and accompanying text?

A. Yes. The font is called “FGDCGeoAge” and is a font created by the USGS. It is available for download at (see sections 31 through 33 for download links).

Q. Does NBMG have a style guide?

A. Not at current. However, there are several helpful documents available below to guide you until we can make a comprehensive NBMG style guide available.

For now, NBMG has adopted the Utah Geological Survey style guide (with some exceptions). If an item is not described in the UGS style guide or Exceptions to USG STA page, then refer to the USGS Suggestions to Authors. There are also some exceptions to the USGS Suggestions to Authors linked below. If the UGS and USGS style guides (or their exceptions pages) do not address a particular item, then you may refer to the GSA style guide. If none of these style guides address a particular item, then please refer to the Chicago Manual of Style.

NBMG Map Review Checklist | NBMG Publication Review Checklist | NBMG Gtyle Guidelines/Notes

Style guides:
UGS Style Guide | Exceptions to UGS STA

USGS STA | Exceptions to USGS STA

GSA Style Guide

Chicago Manual of Style

Following these guidelines as closely as possible will help ensure a quicker and easier publication process. Authors who do not have the capability to generate a map following these guidelines can still submit their map, but it will require more time for NBMG to publish.

Related information:
National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program (NCGMP) website
--\NCGMP standards webpage
----\NCGMP standards and guidelines

Additional Resources

Q. What sort of things do the NBMG editors and reviewers look for, and what can I do to streamline the editorial process?

A. Editors will first check for spelling, grammar, cohesiveness, readability, and professionalism of the writing. Editors and reviewers will also check for accuracy and correctness of the geological information included in the product. Authors should check for these same things before they submit their product for publication. Authors should also always make sure to perform a spell check before submitting their product for publication. Also, please do submit maps and manuscripts written in first person.

Other specific items that editors and reviewers check for can be found in the checklists linked below. A common area where corrections are often required is proper usage of formal geologic and geographic names, which should be cross-checked against the GEOLEX and GNIS databases prior to submittal for publication. Other common corrections involve unit name inconsistencies between the map, unit list, cross section, correlation diagram and text and inconsistencies of map units shown at the surface of a cross section profile and those shown along the cross section line on the map. It is very important that authors carefully check all of these areas of their product before they submit their product to NBMG for publication.

Providing well-organized digital files is also important for ensuring a quick and easy publication process. Double check your mxds for missing data, ensure data is properly projected, remove layers that will not be part of the publication to limit confusion, be sure linked files are provided with Illustrator files, and only provide files in your folders that we should use for the publication process.

For both GIS and Adobe Illustrator map submittals, be sure that your geologic lines (contacts, faults, folds, etc.) are a separate feature class (GIS) or layer (AI) than your polygons. Do not provide outlined polygons to depict geologic lines and units together. Our process is to generate polygons from lines, so submitting as outlined polygons will result in extra time and costs required to separate them and reconstruct polygons. For Illustrator maps, polygons can be constructed from lines using Live Paint. A tutorial for this process is here.

It is also especially important that the geologic compilation of your map be finalized before the map is submitted to NBMG for publication.

NBMG Map Review Checklist | NBMG Publication Review Checklist

Formal names databases:

Additional Resources

Q. I have read all questions and answers in the FAQ and have a geologic map that I’d like to publish. Who do I contact to get the ball rolling?

A. Send your request to the following individuals and they will discuss details with you and inform you of the next steps.

Seth Dee –
James Faulds –
Jennifer Vlcan -

Once we have agreed that we would like to publish your product, send associated files to the Cartographic/GIS Manager, Jennifer Vlcan, and she will discuss any additional details with you and coordinate the publication process.