Sometimes papers I receive for review will not have the tables and figures placed in the text body where the are referenced, but instead at the very end after the bibliography. I personally find that extremly irritating, as I have to scroll back and forth from the spot where a table or figure is mentioned in the text to the page where they are actually displayed. This is not only inconvenient, but makes it also more difficult to assess the completeness and accuracy of data displayed, the overall quality of the figures and images etc.

As a reviewer, I really cannot find any positive aspect for this structure, but sure enough it is not only accepted at some journals, but sometimes even actively encouraged. Why is this the case?

  • 4
    Bad editorial management systems, that's what ...
    – Allure
    Commented May 3 at 9:52
  • 3
    At some point the journal has to typeset it for real, and does want them separate so a professional can do the proper job.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented May 3 at 13:13
  • 3
    @JonCuster That I understand, but this could totally be done when I final version after the review process is handed in
    – Sursula
    Commented May 3 at 13:22
  • 3
    So who puts in and then properly pulls out all the stuff? An accepted paper needs the separated bits, so start with that goal in mind. That it is an issue for some people’s work flow is pretty irrelevant. I just put all that stuff in a separate window.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented May 3 at 13:26
  • 5
    Look, I get it - this is a somewhat archaic practice. Changing a journal's workflow requires time and money and introduces risk into the process, so they don't do it. Just like a dozen other bureaucratic systems you interact with daily.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented May 3 at 14:53

1 Answer 1


This is a hangover from earlier times, when graphical material would likely need to be produced and printed using different systems to the main text. Thus, the format is designed to support manual collation of all the pieces.

Some people argue that it is useful for review purposes to have the figures separate from the main text, so that you can easily lay them out (in printed form) and refer to them as you read the manuscript. Personally, I have never been convinced that this is as big an advantage as the advocates claim.

  • 5
    Who even still reads the printed-out version of the manuscript? Commented May 3 at 17:09
  • 4
    I'll chime in as someone who sometimes prints out papers. When you actually care about what they're saying (e.g. you're trying to implement a system they propose but don't implement), it can be really nice to print out all the figures on paper for reference while you read the prose. Sadly, I've never seen a modern paper collect its figures the way OP is asking about. Commented May 3 at 17:45
  • 6
    @WolfgangBangerth I tend to print papers I need to read carefully, including papers I'm reviewing or proofreading. Being able to use a red pen somehow makes it easier to be thorough :) But I would staple the pages together anyway for ease of transportation, so this laying out the figures argument doesn't really appeal to me.
    – Anyon
    Commented May 3 at 20:22
  • 2
    The modern version of laying it out printed would possibly be viewing on two monitors. But I still find it clunky.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented May 3 at 22:38

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