Though fewer and fewer scientists actually read dead-tree editions of journals, being featured on a journal cover is still a nice way to highlight your paper to a large community, and is usually considered a great recognition of one’s work. So, how does one go about getting on a journal cover? If you feel you have extraordinarily attractive graphics, do you submit them for consideration to the editor? Or is it useless, and should only be done when explicitly asked (or suggested) by the editor?

3 Answers 3


I emailed the editor and suggested I had a beautiful and relevant graphic for a special issue. That worked.

Edit: Image attached. Also, note that I did go about it incorrectly, but it worked anyway. I emailed the editors when I submitted my paper. I should have waited until it was accepted.

Cover Image

  • I can't believe nobody else has been curious enough to ask - please tell me what your figure is.
    – L Platts
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 21:27
  • 1
    The Pine Island Glacier ice shelf flows in gray from the top of the image. Ocean waters are shown in color, with blue cold and red warm, derived from LandSat ETM+ thermal infrared sensor. Sea ice (in gray) floats in and around Pine Island Bay. Warm waters are flowing out from under the ice shelf, directed by sub-shelf conduits seen as surface lineations in the ice, and the shear margins of the shelf. More details here dx.doi.org/10.3189/2012AoG60A062
    – mankoff
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 12:52
  • Wow, thank you for assuaging my curiosity. Now I understand why you're wrapped up all warm!
    – L Platts
    Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 16:34

Usually the journals (at least with my very recent publication with Nature Publishing Group) ask for a potential journal cover upon notification of your manuscript's acceptance.


Pay the color charges. A lot of journal covers come directly from figures in an article. If you go out of your way to avoid paying color charges, you will never have a cover worthy figure. You will, however, have a lot more grant money.

  • In my field (chemistry), most journals follow the “free color online, pay for print” model, and some actually offer fully free color figures.
    – F'x
    Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 10:29

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