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The label for "Kettering" in National Geographic's map is distorted (to "fit"), set in smaller type, crosses two road paths, and eliminates more smaller city labels than Imus'.

The irony of this is that these are all very common constraints to graph layout algorithms --- simple type, minimized crossings, label size and placement --- and the label you called out as "better" pessimizes them.

Add to that the fact that Imus' map subtly indicates Kettering's position in a population center (the yellow blob) and gives topographic and foresting information for the area with a clear contrast between the western and eastern sides.

Be careful. The Imus map is deceptively detailed (again: forestation levels), and is not shown in its best light in a PNG clip next to a simplified National Geographic map. You're right; the Imus map looks muddy and harder to read. That's because it's doing more, and is thus not as well suited to a laptop screen (or a clip in a web page) as National Geographic's.




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