Scientific Journal Guidelines

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All scientific journals have their own guidelines for authors. Most journals will have a submission page where the text ONLY is uploaded as a relatively plain .rtf or .doc file, and each figure is uploaded separately.

Image Guidelines for Scientific Journals

Most journals provide their own regulations about image size, resolution, file type, fonts type and font size.... but as a good guideline:

  • Image size:
    • large = 18 cm wide - (these "whole page" images are rare)
    • medium = 12 cm wide - (about 1.5 columns wide usually with text underneath)
    • small = 9 cm wide - (single column most common).
  • Resolution:
    • bitmap image: 300 dpi - (a bitmap image/photo only)
    • mixed: 600 dpi - (mostly bitmap, but also has text on top)
    • vector image: 1200 dpi - (figure is mostly lines and text)
  • File type:
    • .tif - most preferred, but some also accept .png or .pdf .
  • Font:
    • Helvetica or Arial are usually preferred
  • Font size:
    • >=6 and >= 10 points (if you can)

If this figure consists of several panels, make sure the combined width is correct, and label them as A, B, C (unless specified otherwise). It's sometimes difficult to know what width to use, because the publisher will often want to use a size smaller to save ink. If in any doubt I'd suggest making your images 12 cm wide and export them as 1200 dpi, and if the publisher wants you to change it, you can.

Personally I recommend using Adobe Illustrator to create figures for publication, because it offers many tools for precise control and linking of images.


Most journals will have a preferred format for references and citations (eg: "(Noske et al. 2009)"). You should configure EndNote to use this format. Journals typically like you to use "Journal Title Abbreviations" in your references.

TIP: Use a list of Journal Title Abbreviations such as this one: to make sure you write down the correct abbreviations for all journal names.