Like topographic maps, topographic map symbols have evolved over time. There is no single document that describes all the symbols used on all USGS topographic maps since they were first created.
- Maps published 2013-present: US Topo maps (PDF format only) have a topographic symbol sheet attached to the map file. Open the PDF file in Adobe Acrobat and click on the paperclip icon.
- Maps published 1947-2009: See the Topographic Map Symbols pamphlet. Most of these symbols are still in use.
- Maps published before 1947: See the 1918 Topographic Instructions (page 223) and the 1928 Topographic Instructions (page 130).
- Symbols for 1:50,000-scale 15-minute quadrangle topographic maps of the United States.