I'm submitting an article to a journal, what format should I use for my figures?

Last modified March 22, 2009

Prism 5 or 6

First try EPS (Encapsulated Postscript) files. These are more compact and sharper than TIFF files. Even if the journal you are submitting to doesn't list EPS as an acceptable format, ask them. Their published guidelines may be out of date. If the EPS files created by Prism 5 don't work for you, try Prism 6 which does a better job of exporting EPS.

Prism 6 Mac always converts fonts to "glyphs". This means each letter is encoded as a series of vectors. It will look sharp at any size, but does not require the journal to have the same font files that you used. Prism 6 Windows gives you a choice. You can either encode fonts as glyphs, or as text. The advantage of the latter is that you might be able to edit the text within whatever program you put the graph into. The disadvantage, is that the text will change appearance if the file is used ona computer that doesn't have the font files you used.

EPS files contain the same postscript information as PDF files, but with some headers that make them more compatible with the systems journals use to layout pages. Ask if your journal will accept PDF files.

Many biological journals are produced by Cadmus, and we have heard that they accept EPS files from Prism but they may ask that you not include fonts (a choice with Prism Windows but not Mac). This format is a bit more compatible with other programs, but the computer that the file is opened on must have the same fonts installed for the image to look right. This article explains specific Cadmus requirements.

After creating a EPS file, and before sending it to a journal, you probably want to preview it. With a Mac, that is no problem. The Mac Preview program will let you view the EPS file (actually it converts the file to PDF and previews that). With Windows, however, you won't be able to preview EPS files with standard software. However, EPS and PDF files are very similar (and are created by the same software module with Prism), so the solution is to also export in PDF format, and preview those files.

Older versions of Prism

The ability to export in EPS format was new to Prism 5. If you are using an older version of Prism, TIFF is the next best option. Be sure to read the submission guidelines carefully as there are many options when producing a TIFF file, (monochrome, color, dpi, compression, etc.)

This link explains how to generate high-resolution TIFFs.

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