What are map scales and how are they used?

A scale shows how many units on the ground are represented by 1 unit on paper. In maps, scales are expressed in centimetres, so 1:50,000 = 1cm to 50,000cms.
Any map scale can be easily converted into more meaningful measurements of distance, metres or kilometres:
For Metres
Insert a decimal point before the last 2 digits of the scale, so 1:15,000 = 1cm to 150 metres, 1:50,000 = 1cm to 500 metres, etc.
For Kilometres
Insert a decimal point in front of the last 5 digits, so 1:100,000 = 1cm to 1km, 1:250,000 = 1cm to 2.5kms, 1:1,750,000 = 1cm to 17.5kms, 1:15,000,000 = 1cm to 150kms, etc.
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