Do you want your images to look great in print? The most common problem I see with photos, charts, and other graphics is their poor quality at different sizes and resolutions. Low-resolution, raster images can look fuzzy or jagged (pixelated) at different scales. Vector images display perfectly at any size.
Academics, scientists, and authors often submit articles or stories for print publication. In addition to the body of the text, there are generally supporting charts, diagrams, and photos. After spending countless hours writing and editing, the figures shouldn’t be an afterthought. Top academic journals have strict image submission standards requiring vector images. But most non-designers don’t know a vector from a raster.
For great results, save or export your images in a vector format. Choose vector for zero distortion at any scale! My pro tips:
- Charts and plots. Save as a PDF (or AI, EPS, or SVG). Most charting software allows you to do this. Common examples:
- In Excel: Select the chart, then File > Save as > PDF.
- In Powerpoint: Save as Adobe PDF w/ option for current slide only.
- In r: Save plots using either a postscript (EPS) or PDF extension.
- Photos. Whenever possible, provide the original digital photo file from the camera. Don’t submit a copy from a website or social media post.
- Logos. When gathering logos, request a vector file from the organization’s marketing or communications staff. The tiny logo in a website header is not likely not useful (unless it’s a scalable vector graphic, or SVG).
- Don’t TIFF. Don’t bother with TIFFs. This is an old-school lossless file type that produces a very large file size, but will still show pixelization when scaled.
- Don’t fake it. Technically, you can save a raster image in a vector format. But it will still be a pixelated raster when your design opens it. The key is that the initial export must be a vector.
- Best raster choices. If you absolutely cannot export to a vector format, a good choice for charts and graphics is PNG. For photos, it’s a high-quality JPG. These need to be saved at 300ppi or higher for most print work.
Remember, if you have questions, ask the designer for help. We really want to display your work in the best possible light. When you look good, we look good!