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Definition: Generalisation

Land Use/Land Cover

Generalisation is "the reduction of detail or simplification of reality". It is a cartographic processing technique to reduce the amount of information presented on a paper map according to the physical space available on the media paper in agreement with the scale chosen (§ 8.1.4).

In cartography generalisation refers to geometric and thematic features of maps. Maps are representations of reality and so cannot retain "all detail", or if they could, they would be too complex to understand. The process of generalisation consists of simplification, selection and classification (§ 6.1.1).
Eurostat, "Manual of concepts on land cover and land use information systems (2000 Edition)", Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg, 2001