Guidelines for Preparing Figures

To effectively showcase your research on publication, we recommend following the guidelines below when supplying figures for your accepted article.

File Types and Resolution

Line Art


Line art includes graphs, flowcharts, diagrams, scatter plots, and other text-based figures that are not tables. If a figure includes both line art and images, follow the line art guidelines.

Images include photographs, drawings, imaging system outputs (such as MRIs or ultrasound), and other graphical representations.

Preferred file types

  • EPS
  • PDF

Preferred file types

  • TIFF
  • PNG
  • EPS

Acceptable file types

Any standard file type including: GIF, JPG, TIFF, PNG, WMF, DOC, PPT, PSD, AI, PS.

Preferred resolution

600-1000 dpi

Resolution for line art needs to be higher than for images because each individual line must be more precisely rendered. Tip! Larger fonts make for easier reading.

Preferred resolution

300 dpi

Though many web-based images often appear at very low resolutions (72 dpi or lower), readers will only benefit from your research if your images offer hi-resolution detail.

Acceptable resolution

Any resolution that is legible when viewed as an 80 mm or 1800 pixel width, unmagnified.

Thinking of converting your image file type? Creating your figures in one of the preferred file types creates a higher quality figure than converting an existing figure. If you're not able to create a figure in the preferred file type, provide the file type you have and our production team will work with you to present it effectively.

Is your journal still printed? Providing your figures in the preferred formats and resolution is critical for print quality and readibility of your printed figure.

Image Sizes

For small images, that will occupy one-quarter of the page, the preferred minimum image size is an 80 mm canvas size or a pixel width of 1800px.

For large images that will occupy a half- or full-page, the preferred minimum image size is a 180 mm canvas size or a pixel width of 1800px. Be sure to carefully consider the minimum space necessary for each figure before providing large images.

Provided images smaller than the preferred sizes may be modified during production, possibly resulting in decreased quality.

File Sizes

Each individual figure file should be less than 10 MB, and the zipped file of all figure files should be less than 500 MB.

File Names

To facilitate ease of review, name figure files only with the word “figure” and the appropriate number. For example: Figure_1.tiff

We recommend providing 1 figure per file, but will accept all figures in a single PDF, Word document, or as part of a LaTeX submission.

Legends and labeling

Figure legends or captions should use Arabic numerals, follow the order in which they appear in the manuscript, and explain any abbreviations or symbols that appear in the figure.

We recommend providing a separate figure legend section within the manuscript after the references section, but will accept legends anywhere as long as they clearly indicate which figure it explains.

Supplying figures for submission and peer review

We encourage authors to send the highest-quality figures for peer-review and recommend following the guidelines above when submitting their article. However, we accept a wide variety of formats, sizes, and resolutions at this stage of the publishing journey and will accept any files capable of supporting peer review.

Ethical Considerations

Changes to images can create misleading results, especially in research data collected as images. It may, however, be legitimate and even necessary to edit images. We ask authors to declare where manipulations have been made.

  • Specific features within an image should not be enhanced, obscured, removed, moved, or introduced.
  • Original unprocessed images must be provided by authors should any indication of enhancement be identified.
  • Adjustments to brightness or contrast are only acceptable if they apply equally across the entire image and are applied equally to controls, and as long as they do not obscure, eliminate, or misrepresent any information present in the information originally captured.
  • Excessive manipulations, such as processing to emphasize one region in the image at the expense of others, are inappropriate, as is emphasizing experimental data relative to the control.
  • Nonlinear adjustments or deleting portions of a recording must be disclosed in a figure legend.

Constructing figures from different gels, fields, exposures, and experimental series is discouraged. When this is necessary the component parts of composite images should be indicated by dividing lines clearly demarcated in the figure and described in the legend.