I'm creating an interface where users can choose which geographical level to report on. I.e., they're choosing between "Country", "State", and "City". Is there a better term than "level" to describe these choices?

UPDATE: as noted in the comments below, the "geographical" part of this label will actually be "Geo" because that's a standard term in online advertising, FWIW. So I'm looking for something better than "Geo Level", and probably something that tends toward the colloquial, rather than the formal or technical.

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    Those are political entities, for the most part; they have geographical boundaries, but there's more than geography involved. So you might want to just have users choose from a chart and not try to describe the options too closely. Then, if the chart is oriented vertically, the UP/DOWN metaphoric notion of level refers naturally, without having to be pointed out unnecessarily. – John Lawler Dec 14 '12 at 19:40
  • @JohnLawler users will be selecting from "Country", "State" & "DMA"[1]. Given the context (an ad tech reporting ui), I'm fairly certain that those words will be more than enough for users to understand what they mean. Nonetheless, I want to find the best label possible. I don't think a chart squished into the space would be more helpful. [1] "Designated Market Area", which roughly corresponds to a city and the region around it. – sprugman Dec 14 '12 at 19:51
  • Technically, these are hierarchical levels, so that shouldn't be an issue. It's calling them "geographical" that's problematic, since it's scale and granularity, not geography per se that's at issue. – John Lawler Dec 14 '12 at 19:59
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    @JohnLawler if it helps, I'm actually calling them "geo" not "geographical", since that's the industry standard term for this stuff. :) – sprugman Dec 14 '12 at 20:09
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    @MarkBeadles online advertising. (Added it to the update.) – sprugman Jan 2 '13 at 20:28

These are often called divisions or subdivisions, whether geopolitical, geographical, or administrative.

  • I think division is a bit too techie, but thanks. – sprugman Jan 10 '13 at 17:14

"Scale" is the best word I can think of: "A proportion used in determining the dimensional relationship of a representation to that which it represents." (Reference: AH)


The first word I thought of was granularity, since that is what we use in the GIS industry.

However, you mention you are looking for something less technical, so I'd suggest extent. The geographic extent describes the degree to which an area is covered, so it would seem to fit your requirement.

If you wanted something very colloquial, you could use zoom.


I would suggest layer, which implies (to me, at least) that the user can delve deeper into or back between the different views (i.e. a city is a deeper layer of the view than a state, which is a deeper layer than a country, etc.). "Geo Layer" sounds pretty cool to me.


geographical level to report on ...

I might call this focus or perhaps, geographical focus.


Would it help if you just specify a "Location" in the User Interface and then provide Combo Box(es) for them to choose a Country, State or a City? When it comes to designing pages where the comfort level of each user varies.... i personally feel it would be better to use familiar words. Not that there is anything complicated about "geographical level" ... but as far as i know "Location" is more frequent.

  • They aren't choosing a specific location. They're choosing a category of location. – sprugman Dec 17 '12 at 16:50

Thanks for all the suggestions. I wound up sticking with "Geo Level" for the moment.

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