Guidelines

Guidelines for Preparation of Tables, Figures and Supplementary Files

Preparing for submission

Co-Action Publishing encourages authors to use figures in black and white and in colour where required for clarity of the argument. Colour figures are free of charge for the online version. For journals with a print edition, colour images will be accepted without a charge only where it is necessary for the understanding of the image.

To avoid delays in publication, the following guidelines must be observed when preparing your manuscript:

  • Figures should be provided as separate files, not embedded in the main manuscript file.
  • Each figure should be submitted as a single file.
  • Multi-panel figures (a, b, c, d etc.) should be submitted as a single composite file that contains all parts of the figure.
  • Figures should be numbered in the order they are first mentioned in the text, and uploaded in this order.
  • Figures should be uploaded in the correct orientation.
  • Figure titles and legends should be provided in the main manuscript, not in the graphic file.
  • Figure keys should be incorporated into the graphic, not into the legend of the figure.
  • Each figure should be closely cropped to minimize the amount of white space surrounding the illustration. Find information on individual figure file formats here.
  • Individual figure files should not exceed 10 MB, which is adequate for extremely high quality figures.
  • Co-Action Publishing journals do not redraw author-provided figures. It is the author’s responsibility to ensure that figures are provided at a sufficiently high resolution to ensure high quality reproduction in the final article.
  • Please note that it is the responsibility of the author(s) to obtain permission from the copyright holder to reproduce figures (or tables) that have previously been published elsewhere in non-Open Access journals. Permission should be indicated in the figure legend.

Supported file types

The type of file suitable for a figure depends on the content of that figure. Some formats are better for line drawings, such as diagrams or charts, while other formats are more suitable for photographs. There are two basic types of image format:

Bitmap image files can be created and manipulated using image-editing programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Paint or the open-source alternative GIMP. Bitmap images have the following properties:

  • consist of thousands/millions of pixels
  • resolution dependent (it’s difficult to increase or decrease their size without sacrificing a degree of image quality)
  • are mainly suitable for photographs
  • restricted to rectangle

Bitmap file formats include – PNG, GIF, TIFF, JPEG, BMP.

Vector images can be created and manipulated using a wide range of programs, including Adobe Illustrator, Macromedia Freehand, Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint. In many cases they can also be created by printing to a PDF file. Vector images have the following properties:

  • made up of scalable objects (lines, curves, shapes)
  • will retain their sharpness even when greatly magnified or when printed
  • are suitable for images containing text- or line-based elements such as charts, graphs and diagrams
  • can contain bitmap data

Vector file formats include – EPS, PDF, DOC, PPT.

Supported file formats

Co-Action accepts the following file formats. Detailed information can be found below.

  • BMP (suitable for images)
  • EPS (preferred format for diagrams)
  • JPEG (suitable for photographic images, less suitable for graphical images)
  • Microsoft Word (suitable for diagrams and/or images, figures must be a single page)
  • PDF (also especially suited for diagrams)
  • PNG (suitable for photos and images)
  • PowerPoint (suitable for diagrams and/or images, figures must be a single page)
  • TIFF (for photographs and screen dumps, 300 dpi if possible)

BMP (Bitmap) – BMP is not a preferred format, although supported. BMP is a Microsoft bitmap format that is suitable for photographic/scanned images etc, but is less standard and les compact than TIFF, PNG or JPEG. BMP images can be cropped by selecting the area of interest and then selecting the ‘Crop’ option from the menu in most photo or graphics editing packages.

EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) – EPS is a bulky file format compared with PDF which is a more modern and compact functional equivalent of EPS, so submission of figures in PDF rather than EPS format is encouraged.

Most artwork-creation applications can save in, or export as, EPS format. Non-standard fonts should be embedded. EPS files can be generated by all drawing applications as well as most layout applications. Image manipulation programs like Adobe Photoshop can also save bitmap images as EPS-files. Some printer drivers are also capable of generating EPS-files as well as PostScript files.

If you have problems cropping your EPS image then, as a last resort, you may consider rasterizing it (converting from vector to bitmap format) using Photoshop, cropping the bitmap (again using Photoshop) and submitting the resulting bitmap image in TIFF or JPEG format. However, rasterization will typically increase file size and reduce quality, compared with a vector image.

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) – JPEG is a good choice for compression of photographic images as the compression allows much higher resolution images to be submitted, for a given file size, with very little degradation of quality, provided the ‘Maximum quality’ setting is chosen. However, JPEG is a poor choice for flat colour images, line-art and screenshots as sharp edges create visible artefacts even at maximum quality settings. Such images are better submitted as TIFFs or PNGs.

JPEG is a ‘lossy’ bitmap format; some visual quality is lost in the process. In order to maintain as much image quality as possible, JPEG files should be saved at Maximum quality. However, resaving low quality JPEG images with higher quality settings is not advisable as it will only increase the file size without improving the quality of the image.

Authors should minimize the number of times an altered version of an image is saved as a JPEG, as every time an edited JPEG image is saved, there is some degradation of quality. If possible, the work should be saved as a JPEG only at the end of any process of editing the figure.

JPEG and other bitmap images can be cropped using any photo or graphics editing package, typically by selecting the area of interest and then selecting the ‘Crop’ option from the menu.

DOC (Microsoft Word) – Word is a suitable choice for submitting figures containing both vector and bitmap elements, for authors who do not have access to a specialized drawing package. Excel charts can be uploaded by embedding them within a Word file.

DOC files should be directly uploaded into the submission system. Do not convert to JPEG or other bitmap format as this will reduce quality. Ensure that all embedded artwork is at a suitable resolution (approximately 300 dpi, when scaled to the anticipated size of the figure).

To crop a DOC file, select Print Layout from View pull-down menu. Next click Page Setup on the File pull-down menu and reduce the page margins (Margins tab) to zero, then change the dimensions of the page (click the Paper size tab) to match that of the image.

PDF (Portable Document Format) – PDF contains both vector and bitmap elements. Authors should ensure that PDF figures are not password protected as this prevents Co-Action Publishing from working with the figure and can render such figures incompatible with earlier versions of Adobe Acrobat. PDF files should be compatible with Acrobat 6.0 onwards (i.e. PDF version 1.5).

To ensure high quality, authors should choose the appropriate options to create high resolution PDFs suitable for print use. This means ensuring that all artwork within the PDF is at a suitable resolution (300 dpi or more, at the intended final size of the figure) and that any non-standard fonts are embedded.

PDF files can easily be cropped using the full version of Adobe Acrobat. Select Crop Pages from the Document menu. The Crop Pages dialog box will appear. Change the page margins by using the up and down arrow keys for each margin (left, right, top, bottom). Alternatively, cropping can be done by selecting the crop tool from the toolbar. Here the cropping boundaries are set by selecting a handle at a corner of the cropping rectangle, and dragging it to the correct size.

PNG (Portable Networks Graphics) – PNG is suitable for photographic/scanned images etc. It supports lossless compression which works especially well for flat colour images such as line art and screenshots. One advantage of PNG compared to TIFF is that PNG images can be displayed in modern web browsers.

PNG images can be cropped using most photo or graphics editing packages, typically by selecting the area of interest and then selecting the ‘Crop’ option from the menu.

PPT (Microsoft PowerPoint) – PowerPoint is another good option for submitting figures containing both vector and bitmap elements, for authors who do not have access to a specialized drawing package.

Figures must be a single slide. There should be no background colour unless it is strictly necessary for the figure. The slide title or number should not be included. PPT files should be directly uploaded to the site, rather than converted to JPEG or another format that may be of reduced quality. Ensure that all embedded artwork is at a suitable resolution (approximately 300 dpi, when scaled to the anticipated size of the figure).

To crop a PPT file, open the View pull-down menu, ensure that the Ruler option is selected, and measure the dimensions of the image. Select all the elements in the slide and the cut these elements. Then, from the File pull-down menu, select Page Setup and change the dimensions of the slide to match that of the image. Paste the elements back into the slide.

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) – TIFF is good for any type of (pixel-based) images. TIFF produces large files, but there is no loss in quality. TIFF also preserves layers, alpha transparency, and other special features when saved from Photoshop. The type of extra information stored with TIFF files varies in different Photoshop versions, so consult Photoshop’s help for more information.

TIFF and other bitmap images can be cropped using any photo or graphics editing package, typically by selecting the area of interest and then selecting the ‘Crop’ option from the menu.

Size and resolution

Illustrations should be designed such that all information is legible at the expected final dimension. Co-Action Publishing journals do not redraw author-provided figures. It is the author’s responsibility to ensure that figures are provided at a sufficiently high resolution to ensure high quality reproduction in the final article.

Colour figure/illustration min 300 dpi
Greyscale min 600 dpi
Line artwork min 1200 dpi

File compression

Figures submitted to Co-Action Publishing should be submitted with as small a file size as possible. Individual figure files should not exceed 10 MB. This reduces the time taken to upload files during submission and for referees and readers to download the complete article. Depending on the types of figure, the following guidelines should be considered. Further details can be found in the section on supported file formats.

  • Vector figures should if possible be submitted as PDF files, which are usually more compact than EPS files.
  • TIFF files should be saved with LZW compression, which is lossless (decreases file size without decreasing quality) in order to minimize upload time.
  • JPEG files should be saved at Maximum quality.
  • Conversion of images between file types (especially lossy formats such as JPEG) should be kept to a minimum to avoid degradation of quality

Conversion of images between file types (especially lossy formats such as JPEG) should be kept to a minimum to avoid degradation of quality.

Figure legends

Figure legends should be included in the main manuscript text file rather than being a part of the figure file. For each figure, the following information should be provided at the end of the manuscript text, following the references:

  • Figure number (in sequence, using Arabic numerals – i.e. Figure 1, 2, 3 etc.)
  • Short title of figure (maximum 15 words – required)
  • Detailed legend (up to 300 words – optional)

Line drawings & Diagrams

Information represented in diagrammatic form is best submitted in a vector format as this allows a better reproduction of line and text elements, especially when printed.

  • Supported vector file formats are PDF, EPS, Microsoft Word (DOC) and PowerPoint (PPT)
  • Most graphics/statistical software can save PDF and/or EPS files. Please refer to the software documentation.
  • On Mac OS X, the operating system, also allows you to print to a PDF file from any application.
  • On Windows users need either the full version of Acrobat Reader or a free alternative such as CutePDF or PrimoPDF in order to print to PDF.
  • If your diagram contains some graphical or photographic elements, these should be included within the vector file.
  • If your figure contains a key, please include this within the figure.

In the final PDF, figures will appear as either single or double column (for exact size, refer to respective journal).

Please ensure that, when scaled to the appropriate width:

  • Lines are at least 0.5 pt in width
  • Label text is sized to ensure legibility
  • Images have a resolution of at least 300 dpi

Charts & Graphs

Chart and graphs are best submitted as a vector format figure as this permits a sharper reproduction of line and text elements.

  • Supported vector file formats are PDF, EPS, Microsoft Word (DOC) and PowerPoint (PPT).
  • If you are submitting a graph or chart produced in Microsoft Excel, we recommend that you either save the chart as a PDF or copy the chart into a new Microsoft Word file and save according to the instructions for DOC files.
  • If your figure contains a key, please include this within the figure.
  • Figure titles should not be included within the image file.
  • Please avoid hatching or patterns and instead use shading or colours as these are more suitable for high-resolution printing.
  • Please ensure axis labels will be legible at the anticipated size of the figure.

Photographs & Scans

Figures that contain only photographic data are best submitted in a bitmap format such as JPEG, TIFF or PNG.

  • Many photographic images are captured as JPEG images, in which case they should be submitted as JPEGs. When capturing the image, be sure to use the maximum quality setting for JPEG quality, to avoid visible artefacts.
  • The maximum effective resolution and quality of an image is determined when the original image is created (when the photograph is taken in the case of digital photography, or when an image is scanned). Increasing the resolution subsequent to this, whilst maintaining the same image size, is not advisable as it does not improve the quality of the image: the effective resolution remains the same.
  • Similarly, resaving with higher quality JPEG compression settings will not compensate if the image was originally captured with low quality JPEG compression.
  • Final resolution of photographs should be a minimum of 300 dpi, when scaled to single or double column width.
  • Photographs should be provided with a scale bar if appropriate.

If the photograph needs to include text, arrows or other explanatory elements, these can be added in a graphics program, or these elements can be overlaid in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, and the figure submitted in that format instead.

  • Copy the photographic image into a new file in the chosen editing program.
  • Add all explanatory elements.
  • Once the image has been edited, save and submit the final file as EPS, PDF, DOC or PPT depending on the program that was used to add the text. Do not reconvert to TIFF, JPEG or PNG as this will result in loss of quality.

If there is any risk that a patient may be identified from a picture, its legend, or other accompanying text, the author must seek written consent to publication in the journal from that patient. For children under 15, parents’ written consent is required. Pictures with black bands across the eyes will not be published as the patient’s identity is not sufficiently masked in this way.

Medical X-rays

Medical X-rays should be treated like photographs. If it is necessary to obscure a patient identity in a photograph or X-ray, please do not use an overlay. Instead, edit the image itself using a graphics program, such as Adobe Photoshop.

Micrographs

Micrographs should be treated like photographs with the following additional guidelines.

  • Details of the magnification should be given.
  • Details of any stains used and the method of preparation the sample should be given in the figure legend or in the Methods section.
  • Detailed information about the microscope used should be included in the figure legend or in the Methods section.
  • The type of camera, photographic software and details of any subsequent image manipulation should be given in the article text.

Screenshots

  • Screenshots are best saved as TIFF or PNG. Avoid JPEG as the compression will reduce the quality of the screenshot image.
  • Screenshots should be submitted at the same resolution at which they are captured (e.g. 1024×768).
  • Similarly, do not convert screenshots to EPS format as this results in a larger file size without increase in quality.

Preparing Tables

Tables should NOT be submitted as figures but should be included in the main manuscript file. Each table should be numbered in sequence using Arabic numerals (i.e. Table 1, 2, 3 etc). Tables should be given a descriptive title (maximum 15 words) and legend. All tables should be formatted using the ‘Table object’ in a word processing program to ensure that columns of data are kept aligned; this will not always be the case if columns are generated by simply using tabs to separate text. Avoid colour and shading. Please use dots (full stop) for numerical values.

Preparing Supplemental files

Data sets, extended tables, movie files, or other information are welcome as an optional source of information. These files can be uploaded in the ‘Supplemental/Figure files? area during the manuscript submission process.

Supplementary Files can be uploaded in any file format and will be made available to readers in their original format. These files are also indexed, identifying their relation to the submission as well as their ownership. They may include (a) research instruments, (b) data sets, (c) sources that otherwise would be unavailable to readers, or (d) large figures or extended tables or protocols that cannot be integrated into the text itself.

If additional material is provided, please list the following information in a separate section of the manuscript text, immediately following the tables (if any):

  • File name
  • File format (including name and a URL of an appropriate viewer if format is unusual)
  • Title of data
  • Description of data

Additional data files should be referenced explicitly by file name within the body of the article, e.g. ‘See supplemental file 1: Extended Table 1 for the original data used to perform this analysis’.