Figure Information for Authors

When preparing your figures please select color palettes that effectively convey the meaning of the figure but are legible for readers with color vision impairment.

AI (Adobe Illustrator): Can contain vector and raster information. Save with fonts embedded.

CDX, CDXML (ChemDraw Exchange): Popular molecule editor application.

EPS (Encapsulated PostScript): Can contain vector and raster information. Save with fonts embedded.

JPEG (Joint Photographic Expert Group): Raster file format that uses an adjustable lossy compression system. This means in order to achieve smaller file sizes some quality is lost. If Max or High quality settings are used, then JPEG is an acceptable format for print and online.

MS Office Formats: Acceptable file formats when general rules are followed. See digital art guidelines. Use standard fonts (base 14) to avoid potential delays due to missing fonts.

  • PPT/ PPTX (Microsoft Power Point): Can contain either vector or raster information.
  • DOC/ DOCX (Microsoft Word Document): Can contain vector and raster information.
  • XLS/XLSX (Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet): Can contain vector and raster information.

PDF (Portable Document File): Can contain vector and raster information. Use high-resolution/high-quality compression settings when created. Save with fonts embedded.

PNG (Portable Network Graphics): Raster file format very similar to JPEG.

PSD (Adobe PhotoShop Document): Native file format of popular image editor.

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format): Raster image file format.

Low-resolution images are one of the leading causes of art resubmission and schedule delays. Submitted raster (i.e., pixel based) images must meet the minimum resolution requirements. Raster images can be classified as monochrome (line art), halftone, or combination halftone. Acceptable file formats for raster images are TIFF, EPS, PDF, and JPEG.

  • Monochrome (1 bit) images: Common examples are graphs and charts made of solid black and white with no gray values. The preferred resolution is 1,000–1,200 dpi at publication size.
  • Combination halftone: Common examples are color or grayscale figures containing halftone and line-art elements. The preferred resolution is 600–900 dpi at publication size.
  • Halftone: Common examples are color or grayscale figures containing images only with no text or thin lines. The suggested minimum resolution is 300 dpi at publication size.

Vector images are typically generated using drawing or illustration programs (e.g., Adobe Illustrator) and are composed of mathematically defined geometric shapes—lines, objects, and fills. Vector graphics are resolution independent and can be sized up or down without quality loss.

  • Use the same font for all figures. Standard fonts include Arial, Helvetica, Times, Symbol, Mathematical Pi, and European Pi.
  • Vector line art: Common examples are graphs and charts created in illustration programs. It is preferable to save them as EPS files, with all fonts embedded, and graph lines at least 0.25 points wide. If you are using Illustrator, check the box that reads Embed Fonts when saving the file.
  • Combination line/halftone: Quite often authors will insert raster images into a vector drawing program (e.g., Adobe Illustrator) to add text and labels. Assuming the inserted raster image(s) meets the required resolutions, save these combination files as an EPS with all fonts converted to outlines and graph lines at least 0.25 points wide.

PowerPoint slides, Excel graphs, or images embedded in Word are acceptable formats. When creating the original file in a Microsoft Office application, follow these general rules to ensure that the initial file is properly prepared:

  • Do not use patterned or textured fills in graphics. Instead, use solid fills or percentage screens that can be effectively converted to vector images. Note: A 20% difference in percent screens is most effective for differentiation.
  • Artwork placed within any Microsoft Office application must be of an acceptable minimum resolution for print production: 300 dpi for tones, 600–900 dpi for combinations, and 1,000–1,200 dpi for line art.
  • When inserting pictures/images into files, select “insert” (not “insert link”) to properly embed the high-resolution image into the Microsoft Office file.
  • Use the same font for all figures. Standard fonts include Arial, Helvetica, Times, Symbol, Mathematical Pi, and European Pi.
  • Always embed fonts in your documents.
    • From the file menu, select Save As…
    • From the Tools menu, select Save Options..., then check the Embed TrueType Fonts box, and select Embed all characters (best for editing by others). These screen shots are from MS Office 2003 for Windows. If you are using a different version, these boxes will look different, but the instructions above should suffice.

All color image files must be submitted in their original RGB color. This will ensure that the brightest possible RGB colors will show online, as the RGB color space (light based) is capable of producing more saturated colors than the CMYK (ink based) color space. For this reason, there will be a color shift when images are converted to CMYK for print. For example:

To ensure the best possible conversion to CMYK for the printed journal, when you work with raster images, use an application that supports ICC profiles, such as Adobe Photoshop. Be sure to always embed the originating ICC profile when saving the file. This is usually the default behavior. For example, this screen shot is from the "Save As..." dialog box in Photoshop. The box to embed the ICC profile is checked by default; do not uncheck it. If you are using a different application, please see the appropriate documentation to ensure you are properly embedding the ICC profiles.


Authors are strongly encouraged to prepare their color figures so that the use of color effectively conveys the point of the figure, while ensuring that color-blind readers will be able to distinguish the various colors used and fully comprehend the figure. The following resources can assist authors in accomplishing this goal:

  1.  “Somewhere over the rainbow: How to make effective use of colors in meteorological visualizations.” A BAMS article by Stauffer et al. (2015; doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-13-00155.1).
  2.  “Tips for designing scientific figures for color blind readers.” An online post by Luk Cox of Somersault18:24.

Authors interested in having their article featured on the BAMS cover should note that cover decisions are made by the Editor in Chief and graphics staff after a manuscript is accepted.  Do not include a cover illustration during Peer Review.

Please note these general guidelines:

Images that appear on the cover of BAMS should engage and extend the Society and the community. BAMS prefers images that are unique, creative, and compelling to a general audience, yet also have a scientific base that encourages the educated science reader to read the article. The image should communicate a visual message at a glance. Thus, it is best if the proposed graphic is a single image, not a collage or technical figure that one would normally find within an article.  Cover images cannot duplicate figures within the manuscript and cannot be cited in the text.

Also note that the cost for the BAMS cover is $2,150.00. This cost cannot be waived.

After your manuscript is accepted, please contact BAMS Managing Editor Bryan Hanssen if you are interested in suggesting a possible image for the BAMS cover.