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We are always trying to make it easier for you to find, get, and use the geographic information contained in the National Atlas. And we hope that you will spend a little time exploring its maps, articles, and services.

We understand that sometimes you might need a little help finding your way around That's the purpose of this article. Here we explain how to navigate the site and how to search the National Atlas. We describe our graphical user interface so that you know what happens when you click a link or press a button. And we provide instructions for locating specific information and products using keywords and indices.

The National Atlas Map Maker has its own documentation and is discussed here. You may contact us here with your questions or suggestions and to sign up to help us improve the National Atlas.


Help Topics

  downPage Header
downNational Atlas Logo

downMap Maker
downBrowsing by Products
downMapping Professionals
downRest of the Header

Introducing the Page Header

Most pages found in have a header at the page top.
This is the header:

Image of National Atlas header.

The darkest bar of the header includes links to our most popular products and services. There is a separate link here for those professionals who have already invested in their own mapping software. Just above this bar, is another with a light blue background that contains links to individual chapters of the National Atlas. Between this bar and the search box found in the upper right-hand position of the header, are links to some of our support pages, including this article that you're reading.

Please note that the Map Maker does not use this header and any windows that pop open to present information may not include the header either. However, you will find them on most National Atlas pages.

We put them there to help you find your way around the Atlas. We designed the header to serve as as a set of organized, persistent, and consistent links to the parts of the National Atlas that you're likely to use most frequently. It is also intended to let you know where you are within the We try to make your navigation choices and locations clear, consistent, and easy to understand. If we've failed or if you have suggestions for improving the interface or any other part of, please contact us.

Navigating the National Atlas Using the Page Header

You're Still in™ if You See Our Logo

National Atlas logo The top of nearly all pages in the National Atlas of the United States® bears our full logo, consisting of a red, white, and blue mark, the trademarked "," and the slogan, "Where we are."

Small pop-up windows may not include our full logo. Clicking the full™ logo will always return you to the home page of the National Atlas. Often, the Atlas will link to valuable information that resides somewhere else on the World Wide Web. Unlike other sites, we don't post any 'exit signs.' We don't tell you when you're leaving the National Atlas. It will likely be obvious to you when you've been referred to another Web site, but you'll know for certain if the™ logo is not at the top of the page.

Image of the search box You can search for the occurrence of any word or phrase that appears within the National Atlas. To do so, type anything into the white Google Custom Search box in the upper right-hand corner of the header and then press the round Go button to its right. A new page appears that lists links to any occurrences in the National Atlas of your search word or phrase.

Browsing by Chapters
Image of the Chapters bar with Geology tool tip.
Image of Geology right navigation table. One way to browse through the maps and stories in the National Atlas is by clicking any chapter links found on the light blue bar, from Agriculture to Water. Here we use a traditional approach to atlas publishing by organizing our products and services by broad subject categories. For example, click on the Geology chapter link. You are taken to a brief introduction to this study of the Earth and relevant topics covered by National Atlas maps. Note that on the right side of this page there is a box that contains links to National Atlas products and services associated with the Geology chapter. You may click on any of these links to explore the Atlas.

Start Making Maps
map maker button Some folks just want to start making, querying, and printing their own maps. Click the big yellow Map Maker button to fire up our program for making your own maps. The Map Maker will load in a new window. It has its own documentation, which you can find here.

Browsing by Products
Product bar with Printable Maps selected.
You may click here for a quick introduction to National Atlas products and services.

The dark blue bar on our page header includes links to pages that introduce our maps, data, and services. Once you've loaded one of our products pages you'll find internal links at the top that you can use for exploring the page.

The links on the dark blue bar for Map Layers and Articles load pages that list what's available.

The links to Printable Maps, Wall Maps, and Dynamic Maps load pages that describe what's available in detail.

Products and Services for Mapping Professionals
Products bar with Mapping Professionals selected.
This link is intended for those who have already invested in mapping, geographic information, image processing, and/or scientific visualization systems software. It loads a page that describes the availability of National Atlas Data, Metadata, and Web Map Services.

The Rest of the Header
about, contact us, partners, products, site map, FAQ, help There are eight links in gray text on the right side of the header just above the light blue bar and a button on the far right that links to the National Atlas Twitter page. Please follow us on Twitter for the latest information and product announcements. The eight text links tell you a little about the National Atlas and the organizations that are engaged in its publication. There is a link to this Help page you're reading now. There is another link to National Atlas fact sheets. There are links that take you to information about how to contact the Atlas staff and to our answers to questions that are frequently asked. There are also links to a products overview page and a™ site map.

Click the About link to read more about the purpose and history of The National Atlas of the United States of America. Click Fact Sheets to see information brochures about the National Atlas and international programs that it supports. When you want to reach us, click the Contact Us link. The staff of the National Atlas will respond as necessary just as quickly as we can. There are more than 20 organizations working to bring you Click the Partners link to learn more about all of them. The Site Map link loads a page that provides a visual overview of From the site map, you can move quickly to other parts of the Atlas. The FAQ - or Frequently Answered Questions link - displays a page with answers to questions we receive again and again.

If you look beneath the dark blue bar at the bottom of the header, on the right-hand side, you'll also see something we've added to help you keep track of where you are in the National Atlas. It's a little line of site location text that tells you the functional name of your current page and any links that may have taken you there. Some Web designers calls these bread crumbs, because you can follow their trail backwards to find your way home! For example

HomeArticles › Geomagnetism

indicates that you are reading the article on geomagnetism. You can return to the Articles page by clicking on the word Articles or you can go straight to the Home page by clicking the word Home.

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