Figures should be either professionally drawn and photographed, or submitted as photographic quality digital prints. In addition to requiring a version of the figures suitable for printing, some journals now ask authors for electronic files of figures in a format (e.g., JPEG or GIF) that will produce high quality images in the web version of the journal; authors should review the images of such files on a computer screen before submitting them, to be sure they meet their own quality standard.
For X-ray films, scans, and other diagnostic images, as well as pictures of pathology specimens or photomicrographs, send sharp, glossy, black-and-white or color photographic prints, usually 127 x 173 mm (5 x 7 inches). Although some journals redraw figures, many do not. Letters, numbers, and symbols on figures should therefore be clear and even throughout, and of sufficient size that when reduced for publication each item will still be legible. Figures should be made as self-explanatory as possible, since many will be used directly in slide presentations. Titles and detailed explanations belong in the legends, however, not on the illustrations themselves.
Photomicrographs should have internal scale markers. Symbols, arrows, or letters used in photomicrographs should contrast with the background.
If photographs of people are used, either the subjects must not be identifiable or their pictures must be accompanied by written permission to use the photograph. Whenever possible permission for publication should be obtained.
Figures should be numbered consecutively according to the order in which they have been first cited in the text. If a figure has been published, acknowledge the original source and submit written permission from the copyright holder to reproduce the material. Permission is required irrespective of authorship or publisher except for documents in the public domain.
For illustrations in color, ascertain whether the journal requires color negatives, positive transparencies, or color prints. Accompanying drawings marked to indicate the region to be reproduced might be useful to the editor. Some journals publish illustrations in color only if the author pays for the extra cost.
Authors should consult the journal about requirements for figures submitted in electronic formats.
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