GraphPad Prism 8 User Guide

Exporting for publishing in journals

Exporting for publishing in journals

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Exporting for publishing in journals

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When you submit figures to journals for publication, you have to decide which format to use. Each journal has their own rules, and these sometimes change. But here are some general notes on preparing Prism graphs for publication.

Exporting as a TIFF file

Exporting as TIFF, our customers tell us, usually works well. Notes:

In most cases, you will want the page background in Prism to be white, and to check the option in the Export dialog to include that color in the file.Transparent backgrounds can sometimes cause problems.

If your journal asks for a tiff file without an "alpha channel", choose "White" for the Background color in Prism's Export dialog, not transparent or clear.

For resolution, try to follow your journal guidelines. It would seem to make sense to choose the highest resolution (1200 dpi) but some journals prefer 300 dpi. Definitely avoid the 100 dpi resolution, which is way too low for publication. Some of our customers say they always give the journal more resolution than requested, and this seems to work well for them.

Choose the color model requested by your journal. Different journal have different requirements.It seems that RGB is now more popular than CMYK, so choose RGB if you don't know what your journal wants. If your graph is entirely black on white, choose the monochrome or gray scale color model.

For size, choose to make the exported file the exact width the journal wants. More.

For compression, choose the LZW method, as it is standard and should not pose any problems to the journal production process.


Exporting as an EPS file

EPS files (encapsulated postscript) files encode the graphs as vectors and fonts, so have infinite resolution (except for any embedded pictures). They are more compact and sharper than TIFF or other bitmap files. Even if the journal you are submitting to doesn't list EPS as an acceptable format, ask them, since their printed guidelines may be out of date.  

The problem of fonts in EPS files

Prism Windows (but not Mac) offers an option to convert fonts to outlines when exporting to an EPS file.

The default is to save the text as characters, with references to the font. If you have used only standard fonts, this format lets the journal producers edit the text, or change the font and size. The only drawback is that if the file is opened on a computer that does not have the exact fonts you used, another font will be used and the look of the graph (or layout) will change. If you use standard fonts, we recommend this approach.

If you check the option  to convert all text to outlines or glyphs, the look of your graph or layout will be preserved on any computer, even one that does not have the fonts you used. The disadvantage is that the text no longer is encoded as text, so the people processing your files at the journal will not be able to edit the text, change the point size or switch to a different font. We only recommend this approach if you use any unusual fonts in your figure, and are not sure if the journal computers will contain those fonts.

Prism Mac always converts fonts to outlines.

Adobe products offer a third way to deal with fonts that combines the best of the two approaches above, but Adobe has not provided the hooks our programmers would need to implement this approach. If you have access to Adobe Illustrator, here is an approach that is likely to work well. Export the graphs from Prism Windows without converting the text to outlines. Or try copy and paste.  Then export from Illustrator in EPS format. We do not use Illustrator, so can't give you any detailed information.

Beware of the term embedded font. If your journal asks for that, clarify what they mean. Previous versions of Prism and some other programs  used the term "embed" to describe converting fonts to outlines. Adobe, and some journals, use the term "embed" to the describe the third approach above, an approach that Prism does not offer.

Choosing a color model

If your graph is entirely black on white, choose the monochrome or grayscale color model.

If your graph includes color, choose the color model requested by your journal. Different journal have different requirements. It seems that RGB is now more popular than CMYK, so choose RGB if your journal has not specified.

Previewing EPS files

Once you've exported an EPS file from Prism, you'll probably want to see it to make sure it is correct. With Macs, this is no problem. Just double-click on the file and it will be opened in Preview, a program that is part of the OSX system. What actually happens is that Preview converts from EPS to PDF, and displays the pdf image.

Windows, however, has no built-in program that can view EPS files. Adobe Illustrator seems to be the standard that many journals use, so import the EPS files into Illustrator if you can. If you don't have access to Illustrator, you'll have to find another program. Try double-clicking on the file to see if you already have a program that can open EPS files. Also try the free program GhostScript, which works OK. Another option is to export from Prism as a pdf file, and view that. This works because eps and pdf files contain mostly the same information, with a different "wrapper".