This guide provides information on preparing production-quality figures and text files. The instructions apply only if your manuscript has been accepted in principle for publication and an editor has asked you to upload production-quality material.
Before your manuscript can be formally accepted for publication and passed to our subediting, art and production departments, you will need to upload electronic files of your text, figures, Extended Data figures and tables, and Supplementary Information (if any) to our server. You will also need to upload scanned copies of any forms and declarations requested by the editorial office for signing (these may be faxed if scanning is not possible, with the fax labelled clearly with the corresponding author name and manuscript reference number).
Please follow these guidelines to ensure that your final files are complete and in the correct format. This will speed the handling of your manuscript after it is accepted, reduce delays and minimize potential errors.
If you are unable to upload production-quality files to our server, you should contact Nature's London office for details of how files may be sent on disk, although you should be aware that online submission is the preferred route and submission by other means may delay acceptance and/or publication of your paper.
Final text submissions
At acceptance, please upload the text (this includes legends for print figures and Extended Data figures, complete print tables, and titles and legends only for Extended Data tables, but excludes print figures and Extended Data figures and tables themselves) of your paper to our server together with your production-quality figures and Extended Data figures and tables as separate files, and Supplementary Information, if any.
Important. It is the author's responsibility to ensure that the version uploaded is the final, accepted version of the paper.
Instructions for formatting and content of the text are in the manuscript formatting guide.
Our preferred format for text is Microsoft Word with the style tags removed.
If you have prepared your paper using TeX/LaTeX, we will need to convert this to Word after acceptance, before your paper in typeset. For cross-reference purposes, please convert to PDF format and upload the PDF in addition to the TeX/LaTeX file at final submission.
Authors submitting LaTeX files may use any of the standard class files such as article.cls, revtex.cls, aastex.cls or amsart.cls. Please remove all personal macros, and avoid loading non-standard packages. All textual material of the paper (including tables, figure captions, online methods, etc.) should be in electronic form, as a single file. Graphics should not be called during compilation; they should be supplied individually according to the guidelines on figure preparation below. There is no need to spend time visually formatting the manuscript. Please use numerical citation styles only and ensure that the citations are numbered according to the order they appear in the text (not alphabetically). References should be included within the manuscript file itself. Authors who wish to use BibTeX to prepare their references should copy the reference list from the .bbl file that BibTeX generates and paste it into the main manuscript .tex file (and delete the associated \bibliography and \bibliographystyle commands). As a final precaution, authors should ensure that the complete .tex file compiles successfully on their own system with no errors or warnings, before submission.
Formatting details in text
Order of elements
Articles should be ordered in the sequence: title, authors, affiliations (plus present addresses), bold first paragraph (or abstract), main text, references, supplementary information line (if any), acknowledgements, author contributions, author information (containing data deposition statement, competing interest declaration and corresponding author line), tables, figure legends, (online-only) Methods (plus any associated references), Extended Data table titles and legends and Extended Data figure legends (any references unique to the Extended Data should be added to the end of the online-only reference list).
We prefer the use throughout of a 'standard' font, preferably 12-point Times New Roman. For superscripts or subscripts, please apply actual super/subscript format; do not use 'raised' or 'lowered' formats. For mathematical symbols, Greek letters, and other special characters, use 'insert', 'symbol' and then select '(normal text)' or 'symbol' as the font. Use of other fonts can cause translation problems. List non-standard keyboard symbols in the letter accompanying the final accepted version of your paper.
Word Equation Editor/MathType should be used only for formulae that cannot be produced using normal text or symbol font.
Separate paragraphs by a single, not a double, carriage return ('enter').
Do not indent the start of paragraphs or insert page breaks at the end of sections in the text. Do not insert a double space at the end of a sentence.
These (e.g. Water flows downhill 13 ) can cause considerable problems when the Word file is translated to the typesetting language used for producing proofs. To avoid this, please observe the following:
Use superscripts for citations (see above example), not 'raised' format.
Do not use linked fields (produced by 'EndNote' and similar programs). For authors using EndNote, please use the one-click removal button provided by EndNote to remove EndNote codes before saving and submitting your file.
Instructions for formatting and tables are in the manuscript formatting guide.
Standard table formats are available for submissions of cryo-EM, X-ray crystallography and NMR data. Authors providing these data should use these standard tables for inclusion as Extended Data tables. These tables are available on the Forms and Declarations page.
Final print-only artwork
When preparing figures, authors are advised to refer to printed copies of Nature to get a sense of general size and style points. For an illustrated guide to preparing production-quality artwork after acceptance, see this information document.
Lettering should be in a sans-serif typeface, preferably Helvetica or Arial, the same font throughout all figures in the paper. Units, capitalization, etc. should follow Nature style. Where practical, avoid placing lettering directly over images or shaded areas.
Separate panels in multi-part figures should each be labelled with 8 pt bold, upright (not italic) a, b, c. Maximum text size for all other text should be 7 pt; minimum text size should be 5 pt. Amino-acid sequences should be presented in one-letter code in Courier.
Do not rasterize or covert text to outlines.
Nature will often reduce figures to the smallest size possible for reasons of space. Authors are encouraged to indicate the smallest possible size they think appropriate for their figures, but Nature reserves the right to make the final decision.
For guidance, Nature's standard figure sizes are 89 mm wide (single column) and 183 mm wide (double column). The full depth of a Nature page is 247 mm. Figures can also be a column-and-a-half where necessary (120–136 mm).
Authors should check (using a reducing photocopier) that, at the smallest possible size, lettering remains readable and lines are sufficiently (but not too) heavy to print clearly. Line weights and strokes should be set between 0.25 and 1 pt at the final size (lines thinner than 0.25 pt may vanish in print). Do not rasterize or outline these lines if possible.
Arrangement of parts
Nature will be guided by the authors' suggested layout of parts within figures, but may rearrange parts if necessary. Authors should indicate essential layout features, for example particular alignments of panels within a figure. We value clear instructions from authors to help us lay out their figures.
The best format for any particular figure depends partly on what sort of images it contains. Images fall into two basic categories: rasterized images (also called bitmapped images) and line (or vector) art.
Please do not rasterize line art or text in submitted figures and wherever possible supply editable, unflattened vector artwork.
Electronic image formats
If you cannot provide artwork in our preferred formats as described below, or have difficulty in understanding our requirements please e-mail our art department so we can advise you as to how best to prepare your artwork in a compatible format.
Nature preferred formats are:
- Layered Photoshop (PSD) or TIFF format (high resolution, 300–600 dots per inch (dpi) for photographic images. In Photoshop, it is possible to create images with separate components on different layers. This is particularly useful for placing text labels or arrows over an image, as it allows them to be edited later. If you have done this, please send the Photoshop file (.psd) with the layers intact.
- Adobe Illustrator (AI), Postscript, Vector EPS or PDF format for figures containing line drawings and graphs, including figures combining text and line art with photographs or scans.
If these formats are not possible, we can also accept the following formats: JPEG (high-resolution, 300–600 dpi), CorelDraw (up to version 8), Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint.
Please do not send the following formats, as we cannot use them for print-quality reproduction: Canvas, DeltaGraph, Tex, ChemDraw, SigmaPlot. These files should be converted to postscript, EPS or PDF format before submission.
All photographic images must be supplied at a minimum of 300 dpi at the maximum size they can be used. Artificially increasing an image’s resolution in an artwork program will not improve its quality.
We prefer Photoshop or TIFF format for rasterized images. Where JPEG is the only option available, the quality should be set to the highest possible to minimize loss of information.
Colour artwork can be provided in RGB (recommended) or CMYK format.
Computer screens display colours using red, green and blue pixels (RGB), whereas the four-colour printing process uses inks in cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK). We recommend supplying your artwork in the RGB colour spectrum. This provides a wider gamut than the CMYK print format and allows more faithful reproduction of fluorescent colours when viewed digitally.
Colour figures supplied in RGB mode will retain the RGB colour space in the online version (web PDF and online images), but they will be automatically converted to CMYK to be printed in the journal.
The range of colours that can be achieved in CMYK is limited, so converting from RGB to CMYK often affects the appearance of images. In particular, brighter colours are likely to appear muted, and the contrast between different coloured areas may be reduced.
You can supply your artwork in CMYK instead, if you wish to ensure the printed figures are replicated faithfully. If applicable, please carry out the conversion from RGB to CMYK before submitting figures, so that you can see how the colours will be affected and, if necessary, make adjustments to ensure that no important detail is lost.
Extended data display items
Online-only Extended Data figures and tables should be provided in a different format to print-only figures.
Files should be saved in RGB (not CMYK) for maximum colour saturation and smaller file size. Images should be supplied at maximum 300 p.p.i.; exceeding this limit will make the files too big and viewers may be timed-out before they can view/download them. File size should not exceed 10 MB; most files should be smaller than this. Export and save each individual figure as a JPEG (preferred), TIFF or EPS (please note that other file formats are not acceptable for Extended Data files). All digital images should comply with the Nature journals' policy on image integrity.
Figures and tables should be sized such that they fit to a single page (leaving enough room for the legend/footnote to be set below). The maximum page dimension is 18 cm by 24 cm. Tables can be set at one-column (8.9 cm) or two-column (18 cm) width. For figures with multiple panels, label parts “a”, “b”, etc, and arrange in a layout that minimizes white space and has the figure centred on the page.
Extended Data figure files should be named with the following convention: CorrespondingAuthorSurname_EDfig1.jpg. Extended Data table files should be named with the following convention: CorrespondingAuthorSurname_EDtable1.jpg
Supplementary Information (SI) is peer-reviewed material directly relevant to the conclusion of a paper that cannot be included in the printed version for reasons of space or medium (for example, video clips or sound files). Supplementary Information should not contain figures (any figures (or standard tables that fit to one page) additional to those appearing in print should be formatted as Extended Data figures (or tables, as appropriate)). See the Supplementary Information section for further details, including a list of categories and acceptable file formats, size constraints for individual files and how SI should be presented.
After acceptance for publication, we will subedit your manuscript (main text, full Methods, legends for print-only figures and Extended Data figures, complete print-only tables, and titles and legends only for Extended Data tables) to ensure that it is intelligible to our wide readership and that it conforms with house style. Our subeditors usually send authors the edited text for approval before it is typeset. This enables most queries to be resolved before proof stage. You will subsequently receive a proof (PDF) of the layout, including the figures and Extended Data display items, for checking before the paper is signed off and is ready to schedule in print/online.
Proofs are cycled between Nature's production staff, our typesetter and authors by means of our online production-tracking system called Preprint Manager. After your paper has been accepted our production staff will send you an encrypted link to Preprint Manager in an e-mail, together will full instructions on accessing files.
When you receive your proof, we suggest you send it to your co-authors for them to check, but please coordinate these changes among the co-authors so that only one author communicates with Nature and only one set of corrections is sent. The corresponding (or other single designated) author is responsible on behalf of all co-authors for the accuracy of all content, including spelling of names and current affiliations of all co-authors, so please ensure these are checked carefully.
Instructions for ordering reprints are provided after a paper is scheduled for publication.