Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Why was the PDF file format selected for US Topo maps?

US Topo maps are intended to serve map users who are not GIS specialists. The priority design objectives were to create a traditional topographic map as a digital document that could be displayed on a typical computer without specialized software and printed at map scale without specialized software or expertise. We believe PDF is the only format in common use that satisfies these requirements. PDF is also the only commonly used format that can carry raster data, vector data, and formatted text annotation.

All dates of USGS topographic maps (both Historical topographic maps and US Topo maps) can also be freely downloaded in GeoTIFF, JPG, and KMZ formats using TopoView.

Learn more: