Welcome to the Map Room. This is the Royal h2g2 Geographical Entry Society's helpful place that contains some advice on how to write a geographical entry, and suggestions about some things you might like to include in one.
The Royal1 h2g2 Geographical Entry Society - By Land, By Sea, By Air
Where Do I Start?
So... advice. If you're new to h2g2 and haven't submitted anything to Peer Review then you can find all the information you'll need to create an entry in the Writers Guidelines for Beginners. Once you've mastered the basics, a look at the Writing Guidelines is pretty essential to find out what kind of style to write in. Most notably point 12, which applies particularly to geographical entries as an entry you've written may be updated or extended.
A word about pictures - if the Editors decide it's appropriate, an entry in the Edited Guide will have a picture created for it after it's been accepted from Peer Review and Sub-Edited. This page has lots of pictures taken from the Picture Library, because it's not going to be part of the Edited Guide. But when you're writing a new entry, it's not worth your while hunting out an appropriate picture for it. Current Editorial Policy is that each entry in the Edited Guide must have a picture unique to that entry.
By The Way, What Exactly Is A 'Geographical Entry'?
The Society has no fixed definition of what constitutes a 'geographical entry' as such - it just has to be about a place. It could be an inhabited place like a town, city or village, or a less-inhabited geographical feature like a mountain range, lake, river, or desert. You could write about a place to visit like a historic site, a cafe, bar or pub, an attractive building, a theatre or a tourist attraction. The end is listless...
The 'geographical' remit probably extends to ways of getting between places - you could cover road, rail, air or sea routes, or advice on the best way to get from A to B: whether in a hurry or not.
You can find something of a directory of the geographical entries on h2g2 at the Royal h2g2 Geographical Entry Society Links Page.
What Should I Include?
It's entirely up to you, of course. We're not here to tell you how you *should* do it, just to help create the best possible geographical entries. What we're suggesting below is a range of topics you could talk about when writing your entry. Some of them, of course, may not be appropriate for your chosen topic. Many of them are only suitable for an entry about a town or city. You probably wouldn't want to include a section on 'Nightlife' in an entry on the Dogger Bank, for example.
You don't by any means have to include all the sections, or give them the same names as listed below, or have them in the same order. Just try and think which ones are appropriate, and don't feel duty bound to try and include all of them. If there are any glaring gaps, your fellow researchers are bound to tell you when you submit it to Peer Review.
Where Is It?
You might have lived in the place you're writing about all your life, but your reader may live on the other side of the world and never have heard of it - a quick mention of where it is in relation to the principal cities in your country (or in larger countries the main cities in your state) can come in very handy to the uninitiated.
Some entries are based quite heavily around the history of a place - others prefer to discuss what it's like right now. A little look into the antecedents of your subject can add a surprisingly useful extra dimension to your entry. Whatever you decide to focus on, it's a good idea to include at least a quick explanation of how and why your subject came to exist in the first place.
If your reader likes your entry so much that they decide to visit the place you're writing about, you can give them a helping hand. What are the major roads out of the place, and where do they go? Is there an airport? How far away is it, and what's the best way to get to and from it? Is there a railway station, and if so how frequent or fast is the service, and where does it go?
Anything you can write to help the visitor become acclimatised to your place will be a great help. If it's a town or city, how does the geography of the place work out - is there a river or canal that through it that everything is arranged around, or a large building or major park that you can use to orient yourself in relation to, or a ring road that encircles the centre of the city? Where is the visitor likely to arrive, and where's everywhere else in relation to that? There's a kind of overlap with 'Transport Links' - are the local buses simple enough to be worth bothering with? Is there a Metro system? Are the taxis safe?
Often worth a mention. Some places are inextricably linked with their sports teams - and tourists are often interested in them, as well. For a football fan, no visit to Milan would be complete without seeing the San Siro. So, what sports does your place have to offer, if any? Where do the teams play, and have they been particularly successful?
What makes your place what it is? Are there any strong cultural traditions or industries? Did the place produce anyone that went on to be famous, and is it still proud of them? Are the people rich or poor, is the place ordered or chaotic? Are there any unique cultural factors that the visitor would do well to take into account? In Japan, for example, it is very impolite to blow your nose in the presence of another.
Most towns and cities in the developed Western World tend to have the same chainstores. You can mention these as long as it doesn't veer too strongly into the realms of advertising, but perhaps a good area to focus on is to consider what's unique? Are there any areas that have a strong concentration of a certain kind of shop? Are there any famous stores that are strongly identified with the place? Or is there anything locally produced that the visitor would consider buying as a souvenir?
Eating and Drinking
Again, most places in the developed Western World will have the same chains of fast food restaurants, and again you can mention these if you consider the advertising factor. But is there any food or drink that the place you're talking about is famous for - what are the prevailing gastronomic styles of the local cuisine? And where are the best places to go to sample them? Of course, the larger the place you're talking about is, the harder it'll be to recommend individual establishments.
Is there anything to do of an evening beyond staying in and watching television? Not necessarily nightclubs, although that can be quite useful, but anything in the way of theatres or cinema? It can be combined with eating and drinking, of course - what are the best places to go? What do the locals do - is there a tradition of taking an evening promenade, for example?
Perhaps it's worth a mention of places where the weary hitchhiker can rest their head. Are there hotels, hostels, or a campsite? And are they generally any good?
Places to Visit
You can do as much or as little as you like in this category - it depends how long or comprehensive you'd like your entry to be. The bigger the place you're talking about, the harder it'll be to come up with a definitive list. Some researchers prefer to give just a brief list, with the idea that other researchers can come along in the future and add entries about specific places to visit that can be linked to from the main entry.
Everything in here is kind of under development in here at the moment - this is by no means the final word on how to do it and there are many different kinds of geographical entry. Any advice you have to add for sections or new categories will be very welcome - just click on this link to tell us...
Finally, here are our internal links: