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The size of the Marauder's Map always bothered me. I assumed it unfolded into a large but still manageable piece of parchment. However, the fact that it shows the entirety of Hogwarts - every floor and the grounds - but also showed a miniature Harry dot holding a miniature wand to instruct real Harry on getting into Hogsmeade, seems impossible.

How big would the map have to be to include that much detail? (Especially given that Harry's eyesight isn't great.)

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    I think the map works something like Google maps with zoom level up to the person you are thinking about. If thinking about some person/place zoom unto that else zoom out and show whole castle. that way it could be of any size. – Sp0T Aug 23 '14 at 7:37
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    harry is shortsighted, his eyesight does not affect his reading. – Sulthan Aug 23 '14 at 8:04
  • FWIW Harry did have to cram the map under his nose to make out the speech bubble. – Mac Cooper Aug 23 '14 at 11:30
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    Oh man. And don't even get me started on that flying car. – Misha R Aug 26 '14 at 3:03
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    I would not be horribly surprised if, as a magical item, the map folds out as many times as it takes to get the size of a map that you need. – FuzzyBoots Sep 22 '14 at 13:26
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In the books

The books don’t give much description of the size of the map. This is how it’s described when Harry first sees it:

Fred pulled something from inside his cloak with a flourish and laid it on one of the desks. It was a large, square, very worn piece of parchment with nothing written on it. Harry, suspecting one of Fred and George’s jokes, stared at it.

Prisoner of Azkaban, chapter 10 (The Marauder’s Map)

The book seems to imagine it as a single plane: I can’t find any mention of flaps or folds like in the films, there’s talk of Harry “rolling up” the parchment (imagine what that would do if it was a folding page), and everything seems visible at once.

We don’t know how large a desk is, and how well it fits on said desk, but it gives a rough idea of how big it might be.

In the films

This map is much more intricate, with folds and flaps and fiddly bits. I suspect this is more realistic a design for mapping most of Hogwarts Castle.

The Noble Collection will sell you a replica map based on the prop, and their product page gives us the dimensions:

A detailed full size Marauder's Map replica printed on parchment paper. Measures 15.5 × 72 inches open, folds to 15.5 × 8.25 inches.

When they say “open”, this means the largest folds: there’s additional area because it doesn’t count some of the smaller flaps, such as right at the centre of the map itself:

enter image description here

That seems like a more realistic size, if you suppose that the different floors appear in a horizontal row across the map.

Honourable mention

J.K. Rowling has drawn her own map of Hogwarts, which appears on the Prisoner of Azkaban DVD extras and can be seen on the HP Lexicon. The detail is impeccable and I feel it could easily substitute for the Marauder’s Map, yet it fits on a single sheet of A4:

enter image description here

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    The level of detail on that last map is amazing. I'm astounded that they didn't market it as a separate product. – Valorum Oct 4 '14 at 10:11
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    @Richard: J.K. Rowling’s artistic talents are matching only by her impeccable skills in mathematics. – alexwlchan Oct 5 '14 at 7:47
  • I bet she doesn't have any problems counting her piles of money though – Valorum Oct 5 '14 at 8:13
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I always imagined the Marauder's Map as being able to fold up to have about the same surface area of a normal piece of printer paper, but obviously when you unfold it for use it would be much larger. Harry is able to store it in the pockets of his robes, and when he drops it in Goblet of Fire after his bath, it is unobtrusive enough that the professors do not immeadiately notice it sitting on the floor, so the folded version can't be very big. I do, however, own the prop replica from the movies, and it's enourmous! It's 15.5'' by 72'' when unfolded, and it has a few other flaps to show more. There's nothing on the back, though, and it doesn't appear to be the entire castle, even if it is what they used in the movie. When I read the books, I imagine that it wouldn't open to be quite that big all at once, but it would have more layers and flaps. As for detail, it does seem like that would be a challenge. Yet, it is noted that the writing the names and speech bubble appear in are miniscule, so the map was clearly made to be as small as possible.

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