# Projection types

Because maps are flat, some of the simplest projections are made onto geometric shapes that can be flattened without stretching their surfaces. These are called developable surfaces. Some common examples are cones, cylinders, and planes. A map projection systematically projects locations from the surface of a spheroid to representative positions on a flat surface using mathematical algorithms.

The first step in projecting from one surface to another is creating one or more points of contact. Each contact is called a point (or line) of tangency. A planar projection is tangential to the globe at one point. Tangential cones and cylinders touch the globe along a line. If the projection surface intersects the globe instead of merely touching its surface, the resulting projection is a secant rather than a tangent case. Whether the contact is tangent or secant, the contact points or lines are significant because they define locations of zero distortion. Lines of true scale include the central meridian and standard parallels and are sometimes called standard lines. In general, distortion increases with the distance from the point of contact.

Many common map projections are classified according to the projection surface used: conic, cylindrical, or planar.

## Projection types illustrated

Each of the main projection types—conic, cylindrical, and planar—are illustrated below.

### Conic (tangent)

 A cone is placed over a globe. The cone and globe meet along a latitude line. This is the standard parallel. The cone is cut along the line of longitude that is opposite the central meridian and flattened into a plane.

### Conic (secant)

 A cone is placed over a globe but cuts through the surface. The cone and globe meet along two latitude lines. These are the standard parallels. The cone is cut along the line of longitude that is opposite the central meridian and flattened into a plane.

### Cylindrical aspects

 A cylinder is placed over a globe. The cylinder can touch the globe along a line of latitude (normal case), a line of longitude (transverse case), or another line (oblique case).

### Planar aspects

 A plane is placed over a globe. The plane can touch the globe at the pole (polar case), the equator (equatorial case), or another line (oblique case).

### Polar aspect (different perspectives)

 Azimuthal, or planar projections can have different perspective points. The gnomonic projection's point is at the center of the globe. The opposite side of the globe from the point of contact is used for a stereographic projection. The perspective point for an orthographic projection is at infinity.
7/31/2013