When preparing a final version of a figure, it appears that some changes could be more easily made in a graphics software (gimp, inkscape, scribus, adobe) as opposed to R. Such changes might be done more efficiently, and more to the publishers standards, by the publisher. Apparently, the publisher uses some such software to makes final changes to the image anyway. Presumably, these changes can do it more efficiently and to their standards. Also, some tasks would be trivial or would be done anyway by the publisher.

Some tasks that I am currently doing to prepare figures for a journal article:

  • move / add text
  • change font
  • change line thickness
  • change background color

Something that would be neat to do:

  • integrate figures into text, in the style of Tufte:

    enter image description here


  • What formatting is commonly done by a publisher rather than an author?
  • Is it reasonable to make requests?
  • If so, what work will a publisher be willing to do?

2 Answers 2


For many years, the standard on the part of journals is to do absolutely nothing with respect to journal articles. Essentially all of the work in terms of preparation falls on the authors. Previously, figures had to be "camera-ready"; now, they "just" have to be publication quality. The journal production staff will not do anything, except potentially change the size of the graphic to better fit the column space.

You should check with the journal about the regulations on acceptable graphics; they should have them available for your review on their website. If there are questions about the use of graphics outside of those guidelines, send an email to the journal office.


In many particle physics journals the answer is they do nothing. You deliver a latex source file that uses their class and figures that meet their standards or they send it back.

And in all truth, I like it that way.

  • 2
    Also mathematics and computer science (and every other field that primarily uses LaTeX).
    – JeffE
    Commented Jun 8, 2012 at 2:55
  • @JeffE I guessed that this was the case, but couldn't speak from personal experience. Commented Jun 8, 2012 at 2:57
  • 2
    In particular: jblevins.org/projects/spark
    – JeffE
    Commented Jun 8, 2012 at 3:00
  • I agree that this is a good approach, but rare in biology. Are there restrictions on the packages that you can use? Does the author get to decide on figure size and placement? Commented Jun 8, 2012 at 3:11
  • 1
    @David One of the fundamental features of LaTeX is the ability to separate content from layout. Making changes to a journal's layout (i.e., document class) is frowned upon. However, it is essentially impossible to restrict package use and layout changes. You can always copy and paste the contents of a package into your file.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Jun 8, 2012 at 8:13

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