Figures and Publisher Guidelines

Categories: Dissemination, Other, Presentation, Visuals, and Creativity, Publishing, Research Skills, Tools and Resources

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Show what you mean by including figures in your article or book. This series of posts explores ways to think about and develop figures that will complement your academic writing.

For figures, the number, format, size, use of color, placement in the text, are typically spelled out by the book or journal publisher. You will want to clarify the opportunities and limitations before starting to design and create your figures. Note that there are additional requirements for photographs and other types of images; this post focuses on diagrams, charts, or visual maps comprised of drawings, lines, and/or symbols.

Let’s look at some publishers’ guidelines to see how they compare and contrast.

Publisher Format Color Dimension Font Resolution




Graphics may be supplied in color  if hosted online but will be printed in black and white.
Supply succinct and clear captions for all figures.
300/600 DPI, linetone, 600 DPI


PDF, TIFF or JPEGEPS for charts, graphs, technical drawings, annotated images.
Use 3 or 4 variations of color or tone on one piece of artwork. When an accepted paper is received by Elsevier production for publication, a letter will be sent advising of the number of figures to be published in color and the color costs for that journal.
Recommended that figures are not larger that 10 MB and if you have several figures these should not be more than 7 MB each to ensure ease of upload.
Minimum 7 pt font.
Type 1 or TrueType fonts in artwork, where possible: Arial (or Helvetica), Courier Symbol, or Times (or Times New Roman).
300 DPI for halftone images; 500 DPI for combination art; 1000 DPI for line art. 72 Points in one inch.



TIFF, JPEG, EPS for line drawings
Images supplied in color will be published in color online and black and white in print.
Check that the artworks supplied match or exceed the dimensions of the journal. Images cannot be scaled up after origination.
The lettering used in the artwork should not vary too much in size and type (usually sans serif font as a default).
require a resolution of at least 300 dpi(dots per inch). Line art should be supplied with a minimum resolution of 800 dpi.

Taylor & Francis

TIFFs or JPEGs for halftones; EPS, Word, Excel or PowerPoint for line art.
Image flowchart.
DO NOT use color (unless specifically agreed with your Editor). Avoid tints. It is better to use cross-hatching, etc. If you have to use tints they should be minimum 20%.  There must be at least 10% differentiation in tints, and ideally 20–30%.
Bear in mind the dimensions of the text area of your book. Line artwork should be large enough to show detail clearly at the size it will be reproduced in the book. Very wide or deep figures will either end up being reduced more than you might expect or will have to be reworked.
300 dpi minimum –at the size the image is to appear in the book.
If you are planning to supply a large number of images, always send us a few sample images to test
first before proceeding with taking all your images.

A few points jump out from these summaries (and lengthier guidelines available on publishers’ sites):

  • Some publishers are willing to accept color figures, others are not. , Online journals, or e-books are more likely to accept color figures.
  • Resolution is a common issue. While all spelled out high-resolution requirements, Taylor & Francis/Routledge pointed our repeatedly that images captured on a cell phone are simply inadequate for publication purposes. Screenshots were images downloaded from the web are also inadequate.
  • Text associated with figures should be legible and large enough to read, keeping in mind the dimensions of the finished page.
  • Images are submitted electronically, in separate files. In-text notations should indicate placement in the narrative.

Even though we must give care to the creation of figures for publication, there is a distinct advantage to creating original work: permission and copyright issues do not apply when you create your own images.

Based on this review of publisher guidelines, it seems that reworking or resizing existing figures might take more time and effort than simply redrafting them to meet specific requirements. After you have carefully reviewed the publisher’s guidelines, ask your editor about any remaining questions before getting to work.


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