Guidelines for Journal Figures and Tables

In This Section

How to Create Good-Quality Figures

Presentation and Design:Artwork must be free of extraneous marks and all lines and graph points must be distinct. Design line drawings with considerable contrast and maintain a minimum line weight of at least 0.28 points. Screens, when used, should be no lighter than 20%; if you choose to overlay text, make sure the screen is no darker than 25% and the font is bold. Coarse background girds for graphs are acceptable so long as they do not distract from the symbols and text.

Eliminate all waste space from graphs and figures and between the parts of multipart figures. Any figure that is larger than 3 1/4 in. wide by 3 1/2 in. high will add to the manuscript length and affect the final page count for your manuscript. You will save valuable space if a group of similar figures can be presented compactly as one multipart figure by employing common (shared) scales or perhaps multiple or overlapping scales. Use judgment to avoid an excessively cluttered appearance, however.

Wording in Figures: Consider carefully all wording that appears in figures and delete extraneous text. In particular, do not repeat all or part of the figure caption or subcaption within the figure itself. Be sure that there are no typographical errors in your figures and that symbols, acronyms, and abbreviations used in figures are consistent with those used in the text. Company logos or text with a primarily commercial intent should not be included in figures. Note that dual or SI units are preferred throughout the manuscript, including within the figures, but be consistent in their use.

Choose lettering so that it will be at least 8 points when the figure is sized to fit the column width (3 1/4 in.); avoid variations in lettering within figures or among those that are similar. Uniformity in the style (e.g., font, capital or lowercase letters, bold face or italic type) and size of your figures will enhance the overall appearance of your published article.

Photographs: Frequently photographs convey less information than line drawings so consider whether they are essential in your article. Photographs must be sharp with good contrast.

Captions: Each figure must have a caption that conveys the necessary description as succinctly as possible—no more than 20-25 words—centered beneath the figure. Use letters a), b), c), etc., to label figure parts and their respective subcaptions, if applicable. (Subcaptions also may be integrated into the main caption; see the examples.)

Figure Placement: All figures must be cited in the text in numerical order. You may position them within the text of your article close to where they are cited, or you may group all of your figures at the end of your manuscript. During production of the final article, figures will be placed at the top or bottom of the page as close as possible to where they are first mentioned in the text.

File Formats: Artwork submitted in PDF format for peer review is acceptable. Upon manuscript acceptance, most standard file types are suitable for line art (charts, graphs, and diagrams); submit more complex artwork and images in PNG or TIFF formats. EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) files are acceptable but are becoming less common. PowerPoint and GIF are not acceptable. JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) files are suitable for photographs. Make sure that the resolution of each piece of art is sufficiently high enough to yield crisp lines and legible type (at least 600 dpi for line art and 300 dpi for images).



Designing Tables

A minimum of two columns and two rows are required to constitute a proper table. Plan tables to fit the column width of the journals (3 1/4 in.) or, if necessary, the page width (7 in.). Avoid a format that requires setting the table sideways. Do not insert tables in the manuscript as images; create the tables within your preferred software so that they can be edited during production, if necessary.

All tables are numbered and include a caption (definitive title) at the top. Each table must be cited in the text in numerical order. Make sure that acronyms or abbreviations used in tables are consistent with those used in the text; table footnotes may be used to define acronyms or other terminology within the table, if necessary. Use lower case letters a, b, c (not numerals) to identify table footnotes.

Do not use border lines or vertical rules between columns but do use a double rule above and below the body of each table and a single rule under the column headings. Straddle rules may be used to tie together and define individual column headings that share a main heading (see the examples).