Figure Guidelines

 

These guidelines are intended to provide a general summary of digital art requirements. For more detail, please refer to AMA Manual of Style, 11th Edition, Section 4.2, or APA Publication Manual, Seventh Edition, Section 7.22.

General

  • Art should be created with drawing or illustration programs of the author’s choice to create clean, crisp lines; freehand or typewritten lettering will not be accepted.
  • Submit each figure as a separate file that is clearly identified, preferably as part of its file name (e.g., Figure 1, Figure 2, etc.).
  • If a figure has multiple parts, all parts should be included in one file.
  • Figure legends are required for each figure and must be listed in a separate file. Legends should be brief and describe the content, including definitions of nonstandard abbreviations used the figure. Legends should not repeat information already provided in the text.
  • Each figure must be numbered in consecutive numerical order according to their first callout in the text.

Specifications

Labeling/Font Usage

  • Ensure that all text, numbers, and symbols are no smaller than 6 points.
  • Font and font size should be consistent for all figures. Keep labels and axis measures proportionate with the size of the figures on the journal page, which is 6.5 in. wide, so that the text is readable when viewing the figure at its final size.
  • Use standard fonts for text and symbols.
  • Fonts should be embedded in the file.
  • Provide labels for all multipanel figures. Labels should be consistent for all figures (e.g., A, B, C vs. a, b, c)

File Format

  • The following file formats are accepted: PDF, EPS, TIFF, JPEG, and PNG.  EPS and PDF are preferred for vector graphics (charts, graphs, line art). TIFF, JPEG, and PNG are accepted for grayscale and color halftone images.
  • Provide all images at the desired final size (eg, one-column, two-column). A figure should be no larger than approximately 19.5 cm (7.5 in.) by 23.5 cm (9.5 in.), which is the size of the print area on a single journal page.

Halftones

  • Photographs should be sharply focused and show good contrast.
  • Photographic images should be saved at a minimum of 300 dots per inch (dpi). Do not artificially change the resolution of an image as this will result in a low-quality image that does not reproduce well.
  • If submitting halftones as PDFs, use the high-quality settings, not default settings, in Adobe to ensure the best resolution.
  • Any images where an individual is identifiable must have their identity concealed (e.g., blurring of the face). Written confirmation that it is not an image taken from a study participant or that the participant has provided written informed consent must be provided.

Black and White Art or Combination Halftones with Line Art Elements

  • Line art (graphs or charts) or combinations (halftones with line art elements) must be a minimum of 600 dpi. Do not artificially change the resolution of an image as this will result in a low-quality image that does not reproduce well.
  • Use shapes, patterns, or labels to differentiate the elements.
  • Shades of gray do not reproduce well and should not be used.
  • Ensure axes are clearly labeled and symbols are defined in a key.
  • If submitting combination halftones as PDFs, use the high-quality settings, not default settings, in Adobe to ensure the best resolution.

Color Figures

  • Color figures with elements clearly differentiated by shapes and patterns are welcome.
  • Color figures will be published in color online, and will be grayscale in the printed issue.
  • Color figures must be in their original RGB color. CMYK will not be accepted.
  • When using color, ensure that the information is accessible for readers with a color vision deficiency and readers viewing the figure printed in grayscale:
    • Use symbols, shades, and shapes in graphs or pie charts.
    • Use color vision deficiency-friendly palettes, such as blue/orange, blue/red, or blue/brown. Avoid using red/green, as distinguishing between these two colors is the most common type of color vision deficiency, according to the National Eye Institute.
    • Use contrast tests and grayscale visibility tests to ensure the figure is understandable in grayscale (see Color Resources).
  • Ensure that figure legends are written so that readers with a color vision deficiency or viewing the figure in grayscale will understand the information.
  • Figures should have adequate contrast ratios of at least 4.5:1 to meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, Version 2.0.
  • Shading should vary by at least 20%.

Color Resources

Free Contrast Checker Software: https://www.tpgi.com/color-contrast-checker/

Free Color Deficiency Simulator: https://colororacle.org/

APA Publication Manual, Seventh Edition, Section 7.26, Accessible Use of Color in Figures. https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/tables-figures/colors

Permissions

Reprinted/Adapted Figures

Any figures or photos from a source not original to the author must be accompanied by documentation from the copyright holder(s) giving the author permission to publish it.

It is the author’s responsibility to acquire all necessary permissions from the copyright holder prior to acceptance.

If the copyright holder does not have an English language permissions form or asks that you provide your own permissions form, please use the one linked here.

The source and copyright holder must be credited in the manuscript.

For more information, please see AMA Manual of Style, 11th Edition, Section 4.2.9, or APA Publication Manual, Seventh Edition, Section 12.14-18

Photographs with People

It is the author’s responsibility to acquire written informed consent from participants for images in which an individual is identifiable.

If written consent is not provided, participants must have their identity concealed in the image (e.g., blurring of the face).

Examples

This section provides some examples of formatting that should be avoided as well as formatting that should be used.

1. Use patterns, shapes, and legends to differentiate elements in line art.

A line graph in which the lines are differentiated by having different dash patterns and darker or lighter grays

A bar graph with values differentiated using different grayscale patterns to fill in the bars

 

2. Avoid gray shading or solid colors.

Original:
A bar graph with values differentiated using different colors that have similar color values.

In print:
The same bar graph above as it will appear in print. It is in grayscale and each gray is difficult to differentiate.

 

3. Ensure that color figure legends are clear for readers who will view it in grayscale.

a red and blue filled line graph with a figure legend that differentiates values by describing line weight, patterns, and colors

The same filled line graph as the one above except it is in grayscale, which is how it will appear in print. The figure legend still accurate describes the different values using line weight and patterns.

 

4. Photos of study participants should block out the faces to ensure people are not identifiable.

A photo of two young girls looking at a tablet; their faces have been blurred so they cannot be identified.

A black and white photo of a person by a horse. The peron's face has been obscured with a black square so they cannot be identified.

 

5. Make sure colors have adequate contrast ratio and shading.

Original:
A pie chart using different colors to illustrate the various values and the text is white. The color values are deep enough to contrast with the white text.

In print:
The same pie chart as the one above in grayscale, which is how it would appear in print.