Figures for journal articles

Carefully chosen and well-prepared figures, such as diagrams and photographs, can greatly enhance your article. You are encouraged to prepare figures that are clear, easy to read and of the best possible quality and resolution.

Figures are converted and sized to the journal template as part of the production process for accepted articles, but they are not normally edited further. It is your responsibility to ensure that the figures you supply are legible and technically correct. Micrographs should include a scale bar of appropriate size, e.g. 1 μm.

Characters should appear as they would be set in the main body of the article.

Figures should be numbered in the order in which they are referred to in the text.

If there is more than one part to a figure (e.g. figure 1(a), figure 1(b) etc.), the parts should be identified by a lower-case letter in parentheses close to or within the area of the figure.

File types

For articles prepared using LaTeX2e, please make sure that your figures are all supplied as vector Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) and linked to your main TeX files using appropriate figure inclusion commands such as \includegraphics. For articles prepared using Word, where possible please also supply all figures as separate graphics files (in addition to being embedded in the text). Our preferred graphics format is EPS. These files can be used directly to give high-quality results, and file sizes are small in comparison with most bitmap forms.

If you are unable to send us images in EPS, we can also accept:

  • TIFF
  • JPEG
  • PDF (and images embedded within PDF files)
  • Images/drawings coded using TeX/LaTeX package
  • Images/figures embedded in MS Word, Excel or PowerPoint
  • Graphics application source files (Photoshop, Illustrator, CorelDraw).

Vector formats

The advantage of vector graphics is that they give the best possible quality at all output resolutions. In order to get the best possible results, please note the following important points:

  • Fonts used should be restricted to the standard font families (Times, Helvetica, Courier or Symbol)
  • Certain proprietary vector graphics formats such as Origin, Kaleidagraph, Cricket Graph and Gnu Plot should not be sent in their native format. If you do use these applications to create your figures, please export them as EPS.

Permissions

Note that it is also your responsibility to obtain written permission from the copyright holder for any figures you have reused from elsewhere. This will also include any figures that you created yourself but have previously been published by another publisher, unless that publisher allows you to reuse them without permission under their author rights policy. Check individual publisher’s policies for details. Many scientific, technical and medical publishers use RightsLink to grant permission. Information on how to request permission can usually be found on the website of each publisher. For further information about permissions and when permission is required, please see the Permissions section.

Figure captions

Captions should be included in the text and not in the graphics files. Figure captions should contain relevant key terms and be self-contained (avoiding acronyms) so that a reader can understand the figure without having to refer to the text. Figure captions should also reference the source of the figure if the figure has been reused from elsewhere.

Colour figures

The use of colour in figures can enhance the effective presentation of results, and there are no restrictions on the use of colour in the online version of your article. However, please note that readers of the journal may download and print out on a black-and-white printer, which may make coloured lines difficult to distinguish.

Unless you are submitting to one of our online-only journals, please note that because conventional full-colour printing remains an expensive process, we usually ask you (or your institution) to pay the additional costs incurred (i.e. the costs over and above the cost of normal black-on-white reproduction) if you require colour in the printed version of your article. There is no charge for colour in the online version of an article.

The price for colour print is £250 per figure, capped at £2000 per article. If you would like your figures to be reproduced in colour in the printed journal, please let us know who will be responsible for paying the additional costs, and supply the relevant VAT number (if appropriate) and purchase order number (if necessary).

Need help with your figures?

IOP Editing Services, in partnership with Editage, can help to check and refine all technical aspects of your artwork to adhere to journal requirements, including resolution, colour and image and file size. Find out more about our figure preparation services.