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PLOS Guidelines for Figures, Tables, and Supporting Information

As of January 2015, our manuscript guidelines have been updated in line with our new submission requirements. Please review the information below to properly prepare and format your submission. For a detailed overview of what has changed, please see our PLOS Blogs post.

Are you SUBMITTING a paper for the first time?

The PLOS figure, table, and supporting information guidelines are recommendations. The more closely your paper's figures, tables, and supporting information adhere to these guidelines, the faster and more smoothly it will proceed through all stages. View our video short on how to check your image quality in our submission system.

About submission system's “View Artwork Quality” results. At submission, a figure's quality check warnings may be disregarded. However, before a paper can be formally accepted, all warnings must be addressed except “Alpha Channel,” “AQC error,” and “Testing in Progress.”

Is your paper about to be ACCEPTED?

Upon acceptance, the PLOS figure, table, and supporting information guidelines become requirements. Although our staff offer guidance and advice, PLOS does not provide graphics services. Preparation of figures, tables, and Supporting Information is the responsibility of the author.

1. Policies

2. Figures

3. Tables

4. Supporting Information

5. Frequently Asked Questions

1. Policies

Copyright and the Open Access Licenses

The Copyright and License Policies that apply to articles also apply to figures. Please do not submit any figures, photos, or tables that have been previously copyrighted unless you have and can supply written permission from the copyright holder to publish under the CC-BY or CC0 license. Without this, we cannot publish the figures.

Image Manipulation

Submitted image files should not be manipulated or adjusted in any way that could lead to misinterpretation of the information present in the original image. Inappropriate manipulation includes, but is not limited to:

  • The introduction, enhancement, movement, or removal of specific feature(s) within an image
  • Unmarked grouping of images that should otherwise have been presented separately (for example, from different parts of the same gel, or from different gels, fields, or exposures)
  • Adjustments of brightness, contrast, or color balance that obscure, eliminate, or misrepresent any information

Digital images in manuscripts nearing acceptance for publication may be scrutinized for any indication of improper manipulation. If evidence is found of inappropriate manipulation, we reserve the right to ask for original data and, if that is not satisfactory, we may decide not to accept the manuscript and may also contact the authors' institutions to ask them to assist with investigation.

Depictions of Humans

For papers that include identifying, or potentially identifying, information, authors must download the Consent Form for Publication in a PLOS Journal (PDF), which the individual, parent, or guardian must sign once they have read the paper and been informed about the terms of PLOS open-access license. The signed consent form should not be submitted with the manuscript, but authors should securely file it in the individual's case notes, and the methods section of the manuscript should explicitly state that consent authorization for publication is on file, using wording like: “The individual in this manuscript has given written informed consent (as outlined in PLOS consent form) to publish these case details.” Examples of such identifying information include, but are not limited to: photographs, radiographs, pedigrees (family trees), and geospatial maps that can identify a specific location such as a house. If you require further information, please contact the relevant journal before submission of your paper.

2. Figures

PLOS can accept only TIFF or EPS for publication. Figures should be uploaded separately, not embedded in the article file. See the table below for a summary of requirements. The following applies only to graphics published directly as figures within articles. Supporting Information figures have fewer requirements.

For detailed information, see our complete Figure Specifications. Figure Instructions contains more information on creating, modifying, or combining figures to comply with the specifications.

Figure Requirements in Brief

All figures Dimensions Maximum: 7.5 in (19.05 cm) W x 8.75 in (22.23 cm) H
Minimum: 2.63 in (6.68 cm) W
Color mode RGB (8 bit/channel) or grayscale only
Within-figure text Arial, Times, or Symbol 8-12 point
Number/title/caption/image credit Number/title/caption/image credit
Lines/rules/strokes Minimum 0.5 point
Multi-panel figures Figure file must contain all parts in one file
White space Crop out excess from around image content
File size Under 10 MB
Orientation Vertical, not turned sideways
TIFF Resolution 300-600 ppi
Layers Flattened, no layers
Alpha channels No alpha channels
Compression LZW required
Background color White, not transparent
EPS Text Must be converted to outlines or saved with embedded fonts
CS5 Save as CS4-compatible
Multimedia PLOS cannot directly publish multimedia files in articles, but encourages their submission as Supporting Information.

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3. Tables

The following applies only to tables published directly within articles. Tables submitted as Supporting Information have fewer requirements. Tables submitted for direct publication should be incorporated into the article file immediately following the first paragraph to cite them (read order), not submitted separately.

For detailed information, see our complete Table Specifications.

Table Requirements in Brief

Layout Tables must be primarily cell-based and fully editable.
Structuring the table Do not use the following to organize data or structure the table:
  • Returns (“Enter” key)
  • Tabs
  • Spaces
  • Colored text
  • Cell shading
  • Cells within cells
Software Word (preferred), Excel, LaTeX
Graphics No graphics, boxes, or embedded tables.
Dimensions Very large tables are acceptable, but may be set vertically and/or span several pages in the final PDF.
Text Colored fonts will not appear in published version; use bold or italic for emphasis.
Parts No parts. Make Table 1A and Table 1B into Tables 1 and 2, or combine into one table.

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4. Supporting Information

Supporting Information is not published directly in the article; rather, a link to the file is provided in the online version of the published article. The information contained in these files is ancillary to the article's content, although occasionally important data are included if the file size is excessive or the file type is not supported in the main article.

For more detailed information, see our complete Supporting Information Guidelines.

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