A guest post from Feeding the Elephant: A Forum for Scholarly Communications.
Preparing and submitting illustrations for your book can be a daunting process. What size should the image be? How do you determine the resolution? What file type should you submit? How should the file be labeled?
This spring, the Editorial, Design, and Production (EDP) committee of the Association of University Presses put together an updated set of guidelines for submitting illustrations for publication. Written for authors and volume editors of scholarly books, these guidelines outline the steps for preparing and submitting scanned figures and line art and highlight common mistakes, aiming to make the process less intimidating.
To celebrate the launch of these guidelines, we’ve put together this brief blog post in which individual members of the committee offer specific points of advice for authors based on their own experience. We hope you’ll find it useful!
1. Trim your art down to include only essential illustrations. Just because you can use an illustration doesn’t always mean you should. Always keep in mind that you will need to supply high-resolution files, captions, and permissions for each image and that you will need to have these ready at the time that you deliver your manuscript. Wondering about file types? See the full guidelines. (Julia Cook, production editor, University of Rochester Press)
2. Follow your press’s guidelines for the naming and handling of figures. They will almost always include the following instructions:
Don’t embed figures in the manuscript; instead add placement callouts in angle brackets between paragraphs (e.g., <fig. 2.5 about here>).
Collect all captions in a separate Word document.
For each figure, the caption, short description in the list of illustrations (if one is included in the front matter), placement callout, text reference, and the illustration itself should match. If you make an adjustment in any of these areas, double-check the others to ensure they still match. (Kelly Finefrock, project editor, University of Alabama Press)
3. Make sure to provide editable text for tables. Do not take a screenshot of a table and then insert the image into the manuscript file. For line art, including graphs, charts, diagrams, and flowcharts, provide the source file or the original, editable file in the program used to create the file, along with a PDF. Some programs have the option to export to PDF, EPS, AI, or SVG. Please export if possible. Also do not take a screenshot of line art. To test quality for line art, zoom in at 100% and even greater (i.e., 200%), and if the lines and text are smooth and straight, the quality is great. If the lines are blurry and pixelated, then the quality is bad and your line art will probably not be usable. (Mary Lui, editorial, design, and production coordinator, University of Toronto Press)
4. Keep in mind the page size of the book when creating your maps. Most books are 6 x 9 inches and thus maps will likely be set at around 4.5 inches wide—you’ll want to make sure your map labels are still readable when reduced to page size. If you’re unsure of how readable your labels are, set the size of your map to 4.5 inches and then print it out at 100% size. If your labels are hard to read when printed out, they’ll be hard to read in the printed book too. (Amanda Krause, editorial, design, and production manager, University of Arizona Press)
5. How to Check File Resolution
On a PC
Open Windows Explorer and locate the image file(s).
Right-click on the file and select “Properties” from the drop-down menu.
Click the “Details” tab at the top of the dialog box.
The dimensions of the file are listed under the “Image” section of the dialog box.
Using these pixel dimensions, calculate the maximum reproduction size of the file by dividing the number of pixels by the ppi (pixels per inch, also sometimes called dpi or dots per inch) required, typically 300 ppi. For example, if a color or grayscale image file’s dimensions are 4320 × 2180, this image can be reproduced as an image measuring 14.4 × 7.26 inches or smaller (4320 ÷ 300 = 14.4 and 2180 ÷ 300 = 7.26).
On a Mac
Open Finder and locate the image file(s).
Right-click on the file—or press the “Control” key and click on the file—and select “Get Info” from the drop-down menu.
The dimensions of the file are listed under the “More Info” section of the dialog box.
Using these pixel dimensions, calculate the maximum reproduction size of the file by dividing the number of pixels by the ppi (pixels per inch, also sometimes called dpi or dots per inch) required, typically 300 ppi. For example, if a color or grayscale image file’s dimensions are 900 × 506, this image can be reproduced as an image measuring 3 × 1.68 inches or smaller (900 ÷ 300 = 3 and 506 ÷ 300 = 1.68). (Laura Furney, assistant director and managing editor, University Press of Colorado and Utah State University Press)
For more information, check out the updated guidelines. You should also consult the guidelines your press gave you and talk to your editor about any questions.
Julia Cook and Mary Lui are co-chairs of the Editorial, Design, and Production Committee of the Association of University Presses.
Kelly Finefrock is a project editor at the University of Alabama Press.
Amanda Krause is the editorial, design, and production manager at the University of Arizona Press. She began at the Press in 2013 after previous roles in newspapers, magazines, and the university press community. In addition to guiding all UA Press titles through the manuscript editorial, typesetting, and production processes, she also manages the Press’s pool of freelance copyeditors and proofreaders.
Laura Furney is the assistant director and managing editor at the University Press of Colorado and Utah State University Press.
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