General preparation guidelines

This page provides general information for authors creating figures to maximize the quality of those illustrations and to prepare artwork for submission to Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research. Guidelines on specific types of figures, and on supported file formats are also available.

In the typeset PDF figures are placed appropriately within the text, as close as possible to their first mention in the text.

Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research, if necessary, reletters author-provided figures bu it is the author’s responsibility to ensure that figures are provided at a sufficiently high resolution to ensure high quality reproduction in the final article.

Both acceptance of the article, and production of the final full-text web and PDF versions will proceed more quickly if authors submit figures in accordance with Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research’s guidelines as specified in this document.

Preparing figure files for submission

Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research encourages authors to use figures where this will increase the clarity of an article. The use of colour figures in articles is free of charge. The following guidelines must be observed when preparing figures. Failure to do so is likely to delay acceptance and publication of the article.

  • Illustrations for publication should be provided as separate files.
  • Each figure of a manuscript should be submitted as a single file.
  • Tables should NOT be submitted as figures but should be included in the main manuscript file.
  • Multi-panel figures (those with parts a, b, c, d etc.) should be submitted as a single composite file that contains all parts of the figure.
  • Figures should be numbered in the order they are first mentioned in the text, and uploaded in this order.
  • Figures should be uploaded in the correct orientation.
  • Figure titles and legends should be provided in the main manuscript, not in the graphic
  • Figure keys should be incorporated into the graphic, not into the legend of the figure.
  • Each figure should be closely cropped to minimize the amount of white space surrounding the illustration. Cropping figures improves accuracy when placing the figure in combination with other elements, when the accepted manuscript is prepared for publication on our site. For more information on individual figure file formats.

Individual figure files should not exceed 5 MB. If a suitable format is chosen, this file size is adequate for extremely high quality figures.

Please note that it is the responsibility of the author(s) to obtain permission from the copyright holder to reproduce figures (or tables) that have previously been published elsewhere. In order for all figures to be open-access, authors must have permission from the rights holder if they wish to include images that have been published elsewhere in non-open-access journals. Permission should be indicated in the figure legend, and the original source included in the reference list.

Detailed guidelines for the following types of figure are available.

  • Line drawings and diagrams
  • Charts and graphs
  • Large plot graphs
  • Photographs
  • Micrographs
  • Screenshots
  • Genetic information and sequence alignments

Supported file types

The following file formats can be accepted. Detailed information for each file type can be found by clicking on individual links.

  • TIFF (suitable for images)
  • JPEG (suitable for photographic images, less suitable for graphical images)

Image formats – bitmap and vector

The type of file suitable for a figure depends on the content of that figure. Some formats are better for line drawings, such as diagrams or charts, while other formats are more suitable for
photographs. There are two basic types of image format:

Bitmap images

Bitmap image files can be created and manipulated using image-editing programs such as Adobe Photoshop. Bitmap images have the following properties:

  • consist of thousands/millions of pixels;
  • have limited resolution (i.e. will not look sharp at high magnifications);
  • are mainly suitable for photographs;

Bitmap file formats include – TIFF, JPEG.

Vector images

Vector images can be created and manipulated using a wide range of programs, including Adobe Illustrator and CorelDraw. In many cases they can also be created by printing to a PDF
file. Vector images have the following properties:

  • consist of mathematically defined shapes (lines, curves, polygons).
  • will retain their sharpness even when greatly magnified or when printed (see illustrations below);
  • • are suitable for images containing text- or line-based elements such as charts, graphs and diagrams;
  • • can contain bitmap elements;

Vector file formats include – EPS, PDF.

Figure size and resolution

Figures are likely to be resized on publication of the final full text and PDF versions to conform to the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological standard dimensions, which are detailed

Figures on the web:

  • width of 600 pixels (standard), 1200 pixels (high resolution).

Figures in the final PDF version:

  • width of 80 mm for single column;
  • width of 165 mm for double column;
  • maximum height of 217 mm for figure and legend;
  • image resolution should be approximately 300 dpi (dots per inch) at the final size.
    Illustrations should be designed such that all information is legible at these dimensions. All
    lines should be wider than 0.5 pt when constrained to standard figure widths.


  • The Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research recommends the use of either Arial or Switzerland fonts using 7.5 pt characters for text within figures.
  • Courier may also be used if a monospaced font is required (for example, in sequence alignments).
  • Where Greek, mathematical or other special characters are needed and cannot be inserted in Arial or Helvetica, Symbol is recommend.
  • Text should be designed to be legible when the illustration is resampled to the Brazilian
  • Journal of Medical and Biological Research’s standard sizes listed above.
  • All fonts should be embedded.

Figure file compression

Figures submitted to the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research should be submitted with as small a file size as possible. Individual figure files should not exceed 5 MB.
This reduces the time taken to upload files during submission and for referees and readers to download the complete article. Depending on the types of figure, the following guidelines
should be considered. Further details can be found in the section on figure file formats.

  • Vector figures should if possible be submitted as PDF files, which are usually more compact than EPS files.
  •  TIFF files should be saved with LZW compression, which is lossless (decreases file size without decreasing quality) in order to minimize upload time.
  • JPEG files should be saved at Maximum quality.
  • Conversion of images between file types (especially lossy formats such as JPEG) should be kept to a minimum to avoid degradation of quality.

All figures and additional files submitted to the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research must be below 5 MB in size. This file size is sufficient for very high resolution, print publication quality images, if suitably prepared. There are a number of reasons why figure file sizes may be unnecessarily large. In some cases, unnecessary conversion between file types
may cause figure file size to grow, so going back to the original source may help. If your figure is a TIFF, try resaving as a compressed TIFF (more information). If it is a photographic image,
consider resaving it as a high quality compressed JPEG.

Figure legends

Figure legends should be included in the main manuscript text file rather than being a part of the figure file. For each figure, the following information should be provided at the end of the
manuscript text, following the references:

  • Figure number (in sequence, using Arabic numerals – i.e. Figure 1, 2, 3 etc.)
  • Detailed legend (up to 300 words)


Figure 4. Detection of mPER2 expression by Western blot analysis and flow cytometry. Control: cells without transfection; pcDNA3.1: cells transfected with pcDNA3.1; mPer2: cells transfected
with pcDNA3.1-mPer2. A, Western blot analysis of mPER2 expression. The mPER2 expression of mPer2 group cells was significantly higher than that of pcDNA3.1 group cells and of control
cells. B, Flow cytometric analysis of mPER2 expression. The fluorescence intensity (FLI) of mPER2 expression in mPer2 group cells was also significantly higher than that of pcDNA3.1
group cells and of control cells (P < 0.01, one-way ANOVA).

Electronic manipulation of images

Enhancement of digital images using image-editing software can increase clarity of figures and is acceptable practice, if carried out responsibly. It is crucial, however, that artefacts are
not introduced and the original data are not misrepresented. Details of significant electronic alterations to images must be given in the text of the article.

Useful software

There are many software packages capable of converting to and from the major graphics formats. Good general tools for image conversion and enhancement include Adobe Photoshop (Mac/Windows). A variety of cross-platform open-source sofware is also available for this purpose, including ImageMagick, GIMP, and ImageJ. Each of these packages runs on Windows.

Supported file formats

Illustrations and figures:

1. General preparation guidelines
2. Supported file formats

EPS (Encapsulated PostScript)
PDF (Portable Document Format)
TIFF (Tag Image File Format)
JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)
PNG (Portable Networks Graphics)

3. Guidelines for specific types of figure

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format)

TIFF is a bitmap format that is suitable for photographic/scanned images etc. It supports lossless compression (LZW compression) which works especially well for flat color images
such as line art and screenshots.

We recommend that TIFFs are saved with LZW compression, as this allows higher resolution for a given file size. If an uncompressed TIFF is uploaded, the Brazilian Journal of Medical
and Biological’s system compresses it automatically. For this reason, the size reported for a TIFF file following upload, may be smaller than the size of the uncompressed file uploaded.

JPEG is a ‘lossy’ bitmap format – in order to maintain a small file size, some information in the image is discarded. In order to maintain as much image quality as possible, JPEG files should be saved at Maximum quality. See graphic below for a comparison of quality settings.

Low-quality JPEG image

However, resaving low quality JPEG images with higher quality settings is not advisable, as it will only increase the file size without improving the quality of the image JPEG is a good choice for photographs, micrographs, autoradiographs etc. as the compression allows much higher resolution images to be submitted, for a given file size, with very little degradation of quality, provided the ‘Maximum quality’ setting is chosen.

JPEG is a poor choice for flat color images, line-art and screenshots as sharp edges create visible artefacts even at maximum quality settings. Such images are better submitted as TIFFs or PNGs.

Authors should minimize the number of times an altered version of an image is saved as a JPEG, as every time a modified JPEG image is saved, there is some degradation of quality.

If possible, the work should be saved as a JPEG only at the end of any process of editing the figure.

Guidelines for Specific Types of Figures

Line drawings and diagrams

Information represented in diagrammatic form is best submitted in a vector format as this allows a better reproduction of line and text elements, especially when printed.

Supported vector file formats are PDF and EPS.

Most graphics/statistical software can save PDF and/or EPS files. Please refer to the software documentation.

On Windows users need either the full version of Adobe Acrobat, or a free alternative in order to print to PDF.

If your diagram contains some graphical or photographic elements, these should be included within the vector file.

If your figure contains a key, please include this within the figure. This will ensure accurate reproduction of colour and/or hatching between figure and explanation.

In the final PDF, figures will appear as either single (85mm) or double column (176mm).

Please ensure that, when scaled to the appropriate width:

  • Lines are at least 0.5 pt in width
  • Label text is sized to ensure legibility (not smaller than 8pt)
  • Images have a resolution of at least 300 dpi

Charts and graphs

Chart and graphs are best submitted as a vector format figures as this permits a sharper reproduction of line and text elements.

Supported vector file formats are PDF and EPS.

If you are submitting a graph or chart produced in Microsoft Excel, we recommend that you either save the chart as a PDF.

If your figure contains a key, please include this within the figure. This will ensure accurate reproduction of colour and/or hatching between figure and explanation.

Figure titles should not be included within the image file.

Please avoid hatching or patterns and instead use shading or colors as these are more suitable for high-resolution printing.

Please ensure axis labels will be legible at our final figure sizes.


Figures that contain only photographic data are best submitted in a bitmap format such as JPEG, TIFF or PNG.

Many photographic images are captured as JPEG images, in which case they should be submitted as JPEGs. When capturing the image, be sure to use the maximum quality setting for JPEG quality, to avoid visible artefacts.

The maximum effective resolution and quality of an image is determined when the original image is created (when the photograph is taken in the case of digital photography, or when an image is scanned). Increasing the resolution subsequent to this, whilst maintaining the same image size, is not advisable as it does not improve the quality of the image: the effective resolution remains the same.

Similarly, resaving with higher quality JPEG compression settings will not compensate if the image was originally captured with low quality JPEG compression.

Final resolution of photographs should be a minimum of 300 dpi, when scaled to single (85mm) or double column (176mm) width.

Photographs should be provided with a scale bar if appropriate.

If the photograph needs to include text, arrows or other explanatory elements, these can be added in a graphics program, or these elements can be overlaid in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, and the figure submitted in that format instead.

Copy the photographic image into a new file in the chosen editing program.

Add all explanatory elements.

Once the image has been edited, save and submit the final file as EPS or PDFdepending on the program that was used to add the text. Do not reconvert to TIFF, JPEG or PNG as this will result in loss of quality.

If photographs, X-rays or scans of patients’ body parts are included as part of the manuscript, written and signed consent of the patient (or the patient’s guardian, where under 18) must be sent or faxed to the editors, and indicated in the manuscript.

Medical X-rays

Medical X-rays should be treated like photographs with the following additional guideline.

If it is necessary to obscure a patient identity in a photograph or X-ray, please do not use an overlay. Instead, edit the image itself using a graphics program, such as Adobe Photoshop.


Micrographs should be treated like photographs with the following additional guidelines.

Details of the magnification should be given.

Details of any stains used and the method of preparation the sample should be given in the figure legend or in the Methods section.

etailed information about the microscope used should be included in the figure legend or in the Methods section.

The type of camera, photographic software and details of any subsequent image manipulation should be given in the article text.

All light and electron micrographs must contain a magnification bar with its equivalence. In micrometers. This information can be found on all micrographs together with the magnification size.

See examples:


Screenshots are best saved as TIFF or PNG. Avoid JPEG as the compression will needlessly reduce the quality of the screenshot image.

Screenshots should be submitted at the same resolution at which they are captured (e.g. 1024×768) – there is no benefit to resaving them at a higher resolution.

Similarly, do not convert screenshots to EPS format as this results in a larger file size with no increase in quality.

Genetic information and sequence alignments

Figures that present either amino-acid or nucleotide sequences should be treated like line drawings and diagrams. In the case of large, multiple sequence alignments additional care should be taken to ensure legibility of text.

Courier is the preferred monospace font.

Ensure that all text is legible at the Brazilian Journal of Medical Research’s standard figure widths.

Figures should not exceed one page in size.

If all information cannot be presented legibly in a single figure, please submit this data as an
additional file.