Topography is a field of geoscience and planetary science comprising the study of surface shape and features of the Earth and other observable astronomical objects including planets, moons, and asteroids. It is also the description of such surface shapes and features (especially their depiction in maps). The topography of an area could also mean the surface shape and features themselves. In general, topography is concerned with local detail in general, including not only relief but also natural and artificial features, and even local history and culture.

Topography is a field of geoscience and planetary science comprising the study of surface shape and features of the Earth and other observable astronomical objects

This meaning is less common in America, where topographic maps with elevation contours have made "topography" synonymous with relief. The older sense of topography as the study of place still has currency in Europe. Topography in a narrow sense involves the recording of relief or terrain, the three-dimensional quality of the surface, and the identification of specific landforms. This is also known as geomorphometry. In modern usage, this involves generation of elevation data in digital form (DEM). It is often considered to include the graphic representation of the landform on a map by a variety of techniques, including contour lines, hypsometric tints, and relief shading