Banner Image Source Original image held by the Harvard-Yenching Library
of the Harvard College Library, Harvard University

Technical Specifications Required for Publication of Figures

For the purposes of review, figures—including art work, genealogies, graphs, and the like—do not have to meet our publication specifications. However, during the copyediting stage of production, authors of accepted manuscripts are responsible for submitting files that meet these technical specifications.

HJAS welcomes illustrations, but authors should note that our page size and paper quality cannot match art-book reproduction. Our guidelines for art submissions follow typical (non-art-book) publishing standards.

For raster images, line-art should be 1200 dpi. TIFF is the preferred file format for raster artwork. Continuous-tone images (color and grayscale) should be 300 dpi and may be provided in TIFF or JPEG formats. Note that artificially raising resolution by up-sampling is strongly discouraged. Only line-art raster images should contain written language. Combining crisp lines and type with continuous-tone images is more complicated, generally requiring specialized software and file formats, as well as careful consideration of limiting factors, discussed below as “hybrid artwork.”

All images must fit within HJAS’s page margins, which enclose an area 25 picas wide by 44.3 high (ca. 10.6 x 18.8 cm).  Minor exceptions are possible on a pre-approved case-by-case basis. 

Pure vector artwork, such as charts, diagrams, and line-art drawings, are by definition free from resolution requirements, but must fit the above margins. Standard file formats for vector artwork are *.ai and *.svg.

HJAS’s primary (print) edition remains one-color print. However, the online edition—including the PDF download versions—released through Project Muse can use RGB color.  Authors wishing to use color images in the electronic edition should normally submit press-ready grayscale versions; however, HJAS can convert color images to grayscale in some pre-arranged cases.

Hybrid artwork containing both raster and vector elements (including most maps) needs special care.  If circumstances require a raster format then type and crisp lines should be rendered at line-art resolution of 1200 dpi.  Thus type cannot be combined into a single layer with color or grayscale raster images, as combining will inevitably cause down-sampling to 300 dpi (roughly halved again in final preparation for print). For example, a raster image of a map that shows type for labels and outlines for geographic features such as rivers and coastlines should be provided as 1200-dpi line art, with no color or grayscale background; traditional cartographic practice renders terrain with line-art stand-ins.

The choice of software to create hybrid artwork can predetermine whether the image can be used in HJAS. Photoshop and similar image editors can allow “live” (editable, unrasterized) type and crisp lines in one or more layers above a continuous-tone background.  However, because such programs are designed primarily for manipulating pixels in a raster image, they often merge layers together, rasterizing type and vectors. Hybrid artwork done entirely in Photoshop will most likely be unsuitable for HJAS publication.

Instead, we recommend that artists create hybrid artwork by preparing continuous-tone images in Photoshop and then moving them to so-called “drawing” software to add type and crisp lines. Drawing software is designed for manipulating vectors and type while still accommodating raster images in a separate layer. Adobe Illustrator (AI) is the industry standard; its native file format is *.ai. Inkscape, which is open-source, will also serve; its native file format is *.svg.

Type size requires careful consideration.  Labels may be numerous and therefore small, and authors frequently use size to show levels of hierarchy (for example, on a map). For publishing in general, 6 pts is a common minimum. Acrobat Pro’s stock settings for “preflighting” press files flag type smaller than 6 pts because lower font sizes risk becoming illegible. In addition, small type does not fare well when applied over tinted backgrounds. Acrobat Pro flags type smaller than 12 pts when placed over a background. Smaller sizes may work well, but they need careful checking. The risk of illegibility is greater for continuous-tone images, such as maps with detailed terrain, but small size is also a factor when labels are used above simple fills, such as in Venn diagrams or bar and pie charts.

Other type features can also serve for differentiation: small caps or all caps, extra spacing, serif vs. sanserif fonts, and roman vs. italic fonts (note that cartographers traditionally use italics for labeling bodies of water).  AI can organize type features into paragraph and character styles, facilitating consistent application.

Last updated February 2017