Figure Submission FAQ for Authors
- What are your journal style guidelines? Can you provide some figure style assistance?
- Which figure file formats do you accept, and why?
- Why do you ask authors to upload each figure separately?
- I am not paying the charges for color figures. Is it OK to upload color figures anyway?
- If I am not paying for color figures, can you convert my color images to grayscale after I upload them?
- Why do you require CMYK format?
- My images look better in RGB format. Why can't I submit them this way?
- What is the difference between "raster" and "vector?" How does this apply to my figures?
- How can I determine if my images are of sufficient quality for publication?
- What is the difference between jpeg and tiff file formats? Which format should I use for my image files?
- How do I convert my PDF file to a high-resolution jpeg or tiff?
- Can I send you my photos embedded in a Microsoft Word document?
- My graphs were created in Microsoft Excel. Can I embed them in Microsoft PowerPoint and send them to you?
- I created my figure plate layout in Microsoft Word. How do I save it as a high-resolution jpeg or tiff file?
- Can I submit my photos embedded in a Microsoft PowerPoint file?
- I have created my figure plates in Microsoft PowerPoint. What do I do now?
- Can I use an image I downloaded from the Internet?
- You have asked me for higher quality figures. How do I improve the quality of my image submission?
- I changed the resolution of my file and sent it back to you, but I received another e-mail stating that my image file was still of insufficient resolution. Why did this happen? What else can I do?
- My files are too large to upload. How do I make them smaller?
- Why don't the images in my proof look as good as my original figures?
- Can I submit my figures by mail as hard copies?
- I have done the best I can with my figures; however, I am not very skilled with graphics software. Can you fine-tune my figures for me?
- How can I get help if my question wasn't answered here?
1. What are your journal style guidelines? Can you provide some figure style assistance?
To view our key journal style guidelines, please watch this short animated video.
We use the following guidelines for creating and modifying the graphs for Gastroenterology and CGH:
Please label your figures using the following naming convention: Figure 1, Figure 2, Figure 3, etc.
Helvetica is the preferred font for Gastroenterology and CGH figures. However, if you cannot use Helvetica, you must substitute another sans-serif font such as Arial. Serif fonts are not acceptable. (Examples of serif fonts include Times, Times New Roman, Palatino, and Garamond.) Symbol font may be used for special characters, and Courier may be used for sequence alignments. All fonts must be outlined or embedded when submitted in vector files such as Illustrator .eps.
Fonts should be 6 points or larger, but the largest font should not exceed 13 points (the only exception being 16-point panel labels [A, B, C...]). Font styles and sizes should be consistent throughout your figures. All fonts must be legible at actual print size.
P values (probability) are capital and italicized, with no zero before the decimal (for example, P < .01).
r values (bivariate correlation coefficient) are lowercase and italicized.
R values (multivariate correlation coefficient) are capital and italicized.
Graphs should not include hatches or other patterns. Instead, choose colors or shades of gray with enough contrast to stand out and make clear the meaning of the graph. Graph bars should be delineated with grays that differ by at least 20% in value. Graph lines should be .75-1.0 line weight. Please do not submit 3-D style graphs.
For CMGH only: CMGH requires the use of box plots rather than bar graphs, as important information can be lost when data are aggregated in bar graphs. Box plots must show individual data points and superimpose either means and standard deviations or means and confidence intervals. Standard error of the mean (SEM) should be used only to indicate the precision of estimated mean of a population.
Larger X and Y axis labels should be bold Helvetica. Axis numbers should be slightly smaller, using regular Helvetica. Use only X and Y axis lines, when appropriate. Avoid the use of complete boxes to enclose graphs. Use tick marks for only the major axis labels; smaller tick marks should be left off.
Figure keys and figure legends:
Figure keys must be boxed and included within the figure, not the legend. Figure legends should be saved as part of the main text, not within the figures.
Color and grayscale:
Keep in mind that figures might be photocopied. Also, individuals that are color-blind should be able to understand the meaning of your figures. Therefore, please avoid the use of red/green in combination. Make sure that lines, colors, and symbols are easy to read by using high contrast, easily distinguishable dotted lines. Additional information regarding use of color in figures can be found here: http://jfly.iam.u-tokyo.ac.jp/color/.
Avoid unnecessary spacing within your figure layout. In addition, avoid using unnecessary boxes (especially with heavy lines) to enclose graphs or images. This will ensure that your images and text conform to our journal style and are as large and readable as possible.
Each panel of a multi-part figure should be labeled with a bold, capital, 16-point letter (A, B, C...). Whenever possible, do not place this letter over other text or images, in case we need to edit your figure.
Our journal columns are as follows: 1 column = approximately 85 mm, 1.5 columns = approximately 133 mm, 2 columns = approximately 174 mm. Your figures should print at one of these sizes, and still be readable and high quality.
2. Which figure file formats do you accept, and why?
Our preferred file formats have been chosen for compatibility with our industry standard software, resulting in the best print quality and faithful color reproduction. Preferred formats allow us to make the necessary edits consistent with our journal style and are much less likely to cause a significant delay in processing time.
Please note that all images must be high resolution, meaning at least 300 pixels per inch (ppi).Preferred file formats:
- Tagged Image File Format (.tiff or .tif)
- Joint Photographic Expert Group Image File (.jpeg or .jpg) - (high quality only)
Acceptable but not preferred:
- Adobe Photoshop document (.psd)
- Adobe Illustrator File (.ai) - (Please embed or outline all fonts)
- Adobe Illustrator Encapsulated PostScript file (.eps) - (Please embed or outline all fonts)
- Adobe InDesign (.indd) - (Please embed or outline all fonts)
- Portable Document Format File (.pdf)
- Microsoft Word Document (.doc)
- Microsoft PowerPoint Presentation (.ppt)
- Microsoft PowerPoint Open XML Document (.pptx)
- Graphical Interchange File Format (.gif)
- Bitmap Image File (.bmp)
- Targa Graphic (.tga)
- Portable Network Graphic (.png)
- Portable Bitmap Image (.pbm)
- Picture File (.pct or .pict)
- Microsoft Paint Bitmap Image (.msp)
- Paintbrush Bitmap Image File (.pcx)
- X11 Bitmap Graphic (.xbm)
- Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet (.xls)
- Canvas Image File, Canvas Drawing File, Canvas Image Format (.cnv, .cvi, .cvs, .cvx)
- CorelDRAW Image File (.cdr)
- FreeHand Drawing File (.fh9 or fhd)
- QuarkXPress Document (.qxp)
- Texture File (.tex)
- LaTaX Equation Editor File
- Cricketgraph File
- SigmaPlot File
- ChemDraw File
- DeltaGraph File
- MDL ISIS/Draw File
Please note: Any low-resolution files will not be accepted (less than 300 ppi for any color mode).
If you are having trouble converting your images to the proper file format, or if you have questions about the acceptability of a specific file format, please contact us early in the process of creating your figures for assistance.
3. Why do you need each figure separately?
Multi-part figure plates (A, B, C...) can be submitted to us whole. However, separate figures (Figure 1, Figure 2...) need to be submitted in separate files to allow our online manuscript submission system, Editorial Manager, to automatically generate a PDF for reviewers to view. In addition, upon acceptance of your manuscript for publication, our publisher needs separate image files for the printing process. Most importantly, submitting separate image files assists our staff in speeding up the submission process and the manuscript turnaround time, so you can see faster results. Also, we do not accept many applications that contain multiple figures, such as PowerPoint, Word, and Excel.
4. I am not paying the charges for color figures. Is it OK to upload color figures anyway?
No. If you don't want to pay color figure charges, please upload figures in grayscale or black & white. Figures that are reviewed and accepted in color must be published in color, as editors and reviewers must know how the figures will appear in print. Also, journal policy does not allow the print version of figures to appear in grayscale or black & white if the online versions are in color.
5. If I am not paying for color figures, can you convert my color images to grayscale after I upload them?
No. When your images are uploaded, Editorial Manger (our online manuscript submission system) automatically generates a PDF, which is then available to reviewers. It is essential that the reviewers see your images the way you intend to publish them. If you upload your images in color, we will assume that you are willing to pay the color charges.
6. Why do you require CMYK format?
CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) is a color format designed for print, which simulates the four-color printing process used by the commercial printers that we use to publish Gastroenterology and CGH. RGB (red, green, and blue) is the color mode used by computer monitors, video screens, digital cameras, and other technologies through which light is emitted. Image files submitted in RGB will experience a color shift when printed, often with unpredictable results. To ensure a better match between your submitted image and the final print, we require all color figures to be submitted in CMYK color mode.
7. My images look better in RGB format. Why can't I submit them this way?
Vibrant colors look great in RGB (especially fluorescent stains) – but your RGB images won't look like what is printed in the journal, which uses a four-color printing process. An RGB image on your monitor will not accurately predict the final printed result. Preparing your images in CMYK color will give you a better idea of how much color shift to expect. We would like for you to be able to see the image in CMYK, similar to how it will appear in print, and have a chance to make any necessary adjustments.
8. What is the difference between "raster" and "vector?" How does this apply to my figures?
Raster images are images created from tiny dots called pixels. Raster files inherently contain a large amount of information, and each pixel is a small but important piece of information in the overall image. Raster images lose quality when they are scaled up and down. When you talk about resolution or pixels per inch, you are describing the qualities of a raster file.
Advantages: Fine, subtle detail and color.
Disadvantages: Pixels can be seen when zoomed in on an image; they will look like small "steps" or jagged blocks. When a raster image is low quality or resolution it is often described as looking "pixelated." Raster images cannot be scaled beyond the size were intended to be printed.
Examples: Photographs (grayscale or full color), x-rays, histology slides, scanned images.
Vector images are described with mathematical coordinates. Vector images tend to have smooth contours, straight crisp lines, and/or text. Since a vector image needs a much smaller amount of data to describe the shapes of the image and/or text, the file size remains very small. However, the same subtle detail and color shading cannot be achieved as compared with pixel images. Vector images, by definition, do not have resolution; they can be scaled to any size without a loss of quality or resolution.
- Advantages: Very small file size, crisp delineation of text and shapes with no blurring effect, ability to scale an image as large as desired and not lose the quality of the lines and image.
- Disadvantages: Limited range of shading and effects
- Examples: Text in Word and PowerPoint documents, graphs and shapes created in Illustrator, charts in Excel, text and lines in PDF format, any graphic element that can be scaled indefinitely without losing quality or "sharpness."
When you export a shape you created in PowerPoint to a jpeg, you are taking a vector image and changing it into a raster image.
Combination Raster/Vector Images:
Most figure plates are a combination of raster and vector image types. These generally involve the placement of a photo or series of photos into a program such as PowerPoint or Illustrator, with subsequent adding of labels or other graphic elements.
- Advantages: Retains the qualities of the photo but enables easy addition and modification of labels and shapes. Ideal for print.
- Disadvantages: Large file size.
- Examples: jpeg image (raster) placed within PowerPoint, and then labels and arrows (vector) are added; tiff file (raster) is placed into Adobe Illustrator, and then text and symbols are added (vector); the entire figure plate is then re-exported into a jpeg (raster).
9. How can I determine if my images are of sufficient quality for publication?
When we assess whether an image is suitable for journal print, we first look at two file attributes: the size, and the resolution. Size and resolution are slightly different, although both are important for print.
Resolution is the number of pixels in a given area; this measurement determines the quality of a printed image (the "fineness of detail"). Resolution is often given as "pixels per inch" or ppi. For a good quality print, an image should have at least 300 pixels per inch (300 ppi). Sometimes this is also referred to as 300 dots per inch (dpi), although this term is not technically the same as pixels per inch.
Size is the width and height of the final printout (the "print size"). This is independent of the resolution; a file can print at the correct column width, but can be high or low resolution, depending upon how the image was captured or saved.
You can determine both the size and resolution of a jpeg or tiff image file within Photoshop. Go to Image > Image Size. In the dialogue box, you will find both the Resolution, and the Print size (the Width, and Height), given in whatever units the program has set to the default (these could be percent, inches, centimeters, millimeters picas, points, or columns; you can change this under your Photoshop Preferences menu). Resolution should be at least 300 ppi.
Also in the Image Size dialogue box, you will see that the Width, Height, and Resolution attributes can be linked together or unlinked, by unchecking or checking the "Resample Image" box. When the size of the image is linked to its resolution (by unchecking the Resample Image), any increase in resolution causes the print size of the image to decrease.
When the size of the image is independent of its resolution (by checking the Resample Image box), the resolution can be increased while keeping the print size consistent. However, this latter case of adding pixels is called "upsampling" or "interpolating" – and it can lead to blurry, unusable images. In the case of adding pixels (interpolating), Photoshop essentially takes an educated guess regarding where to add pixels. In other words, the program adds data to the image that doesn't really exist. The end result is technically higher in resolution, but the overall result is a less accurate image. We do not recommend this method. If your images are too small, it is better to send them at their original size for us to evaluate, rather than to "upsample" them and send us blurry images.
10. What is the difference between jpeg and tiff file formats? Which format should I use for my image files?
Jpeg (Joint Photographic Experts Group) and Tiff (Tagged Image File Format) files are both industry standards for color images. Jpeg and Tiff are the preferred file format for sending the figure files to Gastroenterology and CGH for publication. Most software packages can save images in these formats in the "Save As" or "Export" dialogue boxes.
Jpeg (also known as "jpg") is a "lossy" file format, meaning that some data is lost each time the file is saved (that's why a jpeg has a much smaller file size); however, the file is still very high in quality, as long as the "Maximum" setting is used when saving. In fact, you will generally not notice the difference in quality, particularly in print. Jpeg is an excellent file format for very large color images because it compresses the files, while preserving the quality of the image. Jpegs are a great way to transmit files via the Web for journal production, due to their smaller file size. At Gastroenterology and CGH, we work most commonly with jpegs.
Tiff (also known as "tif") is a "lossless" file format, meaning that it does not compress your image when it is saved. In addition, you are able to keep any layers that you may have created in Photoshop when working on your file. Tiff format is great for an image with fine detail, or when the color is extremely important. However, Tiff files are larger than jpegs, and may pose some difficulties for uploading to Editorial Manager. Use this format when smaller file size is not critical, particularly when you plan to make multiple edits to a file, or when you are saving an original backup copy.
11. How do I convert my PDF file to a high-resolution jpeg or tiff?
To convert your PDF into an acceptable high-resolution image file, open Adobe Photoshop, and then go to File > Open. Then select your PDF and open it within Photoshop. You will have the opportunity to select the resolution in the next window; set this resolution to ~350 ppi. Save the file as the desired file type (be sure to choose "Maximum Quality" if you are saving as a jpeg).
12. Can I send you my photos embedded in a Microsoft Word document?
No. Please send your original jpeg or tiff images. Placing images within Word documents can introduce artifacts and color shifts, and image deterioration that will adversely affect the final image print. To best assess the image resolution, the image should not be placed in Word. In addition, if you have added fonts or other graphic elements to your photo, these may not display properly when we open the Word document on our computers. If you have created such a composite file, please export it to an approved, high-resolution file format.
13. My graphs were created in Microsoft Excel. Can I embed them in PowerPoint and send them to you?
No; we do not prefer PowerPoint documents as figure files. To prepare your Excel graphs for publication, please use the "Print" function in Excel to create a PDF file of your figures. Then, from inside Adobe Photoshop, go to File > Open. Then select your PDF and open it within Photoshop. You will have the opportunity to select the resolution in the next window; set this resolution to ~350 ppi. Save the file as an acceptable file type for publication (be sure to choose "Maximum Quality" if you are saving as a jpeg).
14. I created my figure plate layout in Microsoft Word. How do I save it as a high-resolution jpeg or tiff file?
If you have used Word to overlay text, arrows, etc, into a composite image plate and you need to export the image, you can try the following:
Go to File > Print. Under the Print dialogue box, choose PDF, and save the file as a PDF. From within Adobe Photoshop, go to File > Open, and select the saved PDF file. Set the file resolution to ~350 ppi and select Open in the dialogue box. Then you can save the file as the desired file type.
However, please note that our Graphics staff may contact you if we experience problems with artwork that was created in Word and needs to be modified.
15. Can I submit my photos embedded in a Microsoft PowerPoint file?
No. PowerPoint files are particularly problematic for our Graphics staff because fonts and embedded images often do not display correctly. In addition, PowerPoint was meant for screen display in RGB color, and will not produce optimum colors for print.
Therefore, we ask that you send the original source files, figure plates created in approved software (Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator), or figure plates that have been exported as high-resolution jpegs or tiffs.
16. I have created my figure plates in Microsoft PowerPoint. What do I do now?
If you have used PowerPoint to create your figures, you will need to export the images into high-resolution (300 ppi or higher) jpegs or tiffs.
In the PowerPoint export dialogue box, the default jpeg resolution is 72 ppi (pixels per inch), which is insufficient quality for print. More recent versions of PowerPoint allow you to change this setting to 300 ppi or higher under the "Options" menu before saving as a jpeg. However, in earlier versions of PowerPoint, you are not given this option. As a workaround, you may be able to save your PowerPoint document as an intermediate PDF file ("Print to PDF" under the Print dialogue box, or "PDF Maker" button), and then open the PDF from within Adobe Photoshop. Upon opening the PDF in Photoshop, you will be given the opportunity to specify the file resolution. Set the resolution at ~350 ppi, and then save the file as the desired format (jpeg or tiff).
Please note that our Graphics staff may contact you at a later time if we encounter difficulties with images that have been created in, or exported from, PowerPoint.
17. Can I use an image I downloaded from the Internet?
If at all possible, we ask that you do not. Images taken from the Internet are not ideal for printing because they are often small in size and are generally very low resolution (around 72 ppi). This works well for screen display and quick download but does not produce a high-quality journal print.
18. You have asked me for higher quality figures. How do I improve the quality of my image submission?
This depends upon how your original image was captured, which software package was used, and how your image plates may have been exported or saved.
Your original photo or image capture should be of the best possible resolution. If your image is a scanned photo, x-ray, slide, or other transparency, your scanner settings need to be set to the highest possible resolution for output. You may need to re-scan your image if you did not use an adequate resolution setting (300 ppi or higher). Likewise, microscope and digital camera settings should be on high-resolution settings. Certain types of images, such as screen capture, are inherently limited in resolution. If your original image was captured at low resolution, we will work with the best you can provide, as we understand it may not be possible to re-capture the original image.
Please note: if you are starting with a low-resolution image, adding pixels ("upsampling") in Photoshop will not improve your image quality, but will only make a blurry, artificially high-resolution image (see "How can I determine if my images are of sufficient quality for publication?").
When working with simple line graphs that do not include photos or scans, it is best not to embed one Microsoft application into another (for example, Excel graphs in a PowerPoint document). Your best option, if you cannot export directly to a high-resolution jpeg, may be to "Save As" or use the "Print" function to create a PDF document, and then open the PDF from within Adobe Photoshop. You can then set the resolution of the Photoshop document in the dialogue box to 300 ppi or higher (see "I have created my figure plates in Microsoft PowerPoint. What do I do now?" or "My graphs were created in Excel. Can I embed them in PowerPoint and send them to you?").
If you have created figure layouts with photos or graphs in combination with text or other shape elements in a layout program such as Adobe Illustrator or Microsoft PowerPoint, it may just be a matter of using the correct export settings.
You do not need to set up the file resolution of a new PowerPoint or Illustrator file when you create it, but any photo you place in these programs needs to be of sufficient resolution for publication. In addition, you will need to follow the correct instructions for exporting jpegs and tiffs from PowerPoint in order to achieve optimal results (see "I have created my figure plates in Microsoft PowerPoint. What do I do now?").
If you are creating a figure layout from a blank Photoshop file, make sure you are setting up your file correctly at the outset. To set up a high-resolution blank Photoshop file, open Photoshop, and go to File > New. In the dialogue box, set the Width and Height to a print size that is at least as large as our journal size (1 column = approximately 85 mm, 1.5 columns = approximately 133 mm, 2 columns = approximately 174 mm; column height = approximately 237 mm). The Resolution should be set to 300 ppi or higher. Click OK once your settings are done; you can now place images and text onto this new canvas.
19. I changed the resolution of my file and sent it back to you, but I received another e-mail staying that my image file was still of insufficient resolution. Why did this happen? What else can I do?
This may be because you increased the resolution of the file, but at the same time, reduced the print size. These two file attributes are linked in the Image Size dialogue box in Photoshop (see "How can I determine if my images are of sufficient quality for publication?"). If you increase the resolution to 300 ppi but reduce the print size to a very small area, essentially nothing has changed in your file; you have the same number of pixels as when you started.
At this point, we may need to work with your original source files (such as the original figure layouts you created). Please contact us if this is the case, and we can work with you individually to ensure that we have obtained the best possible images for final production.
20. My files are too large to upload. How do I make them smaller?
If you encounter difficulties trying to upload larger Tiff or Photoshop files to Editorial Manager, you can try the following:
- Save a copy of any original files before you make them smaller!
- Flatten any layers you may have created in your Psd or Tiff files.
- Crop out any unnecessary white space in your file around the images.
- If your image does not include color, change the color mode to "Grayscale."
- Save the final image as a high-resolution, maximum-quality jpeg.
If you are attempting to upload large PDF files, you can convert them to jpegs first (see "How do I convert my PDF file to a high-resolution jpeg or tiff?").
21. Why don't the images in my proof look as good as my original figures?
The proof you receive is highly compressed so it can be transmitted easily via the Web. The images included in your proof are primarily for you to determine if the information and layout is correct. They will appear in grayscale, with the word "color" in the margin to mark where color printing will be used. In the final journal print, your photos will retain the same high quality as the files you originally submitted.
22. Can I submit my figures by mail as hard copies?
No. We do not accept hard copies of figures. If you are having trouble uploading your figure files, please contact the editorial office.
23. I have done the best I can with my figures; however, I am not very skilled with graphics software. Can you fine-tune my figures for me?
Although we will not create your figure plates for you, we can offer assistance if you are experiencing difficulty in setting up, completing, or exporting your figures. Please contact us if you need help beyond the scope of the FAQ (earlier in the process is preferable). For us to better serve you, please save all of your original high-resolution photos and other materials separately from your figure plates, as we may need access to these.
Many laboratories and medical centers have a Graphics Department that can offer assistance in creating figure plates or exporting them at the proper resolution and format for publication. If you prefer not to make your own figures, you may wish to take advantage of this resource, if available.
How can I get help if my question wasn't answered here?
Please feel free to contact our Editorial Office for answers to any additional questions you might have. Keep in mind that it is always better to contact us early in the process of creating your figures, when we can be of the greatest assistance.