I'm going to have my first presentation in some weeks. Therefore I read some papers and now I'm building the presentation with LaTeX.

In the papers, I found some very useful graphics. But for quality reasons I don't like to take Screenshots of the PDF's. So I rebuild the graphics to have them as vector graphics.

Can I cite them just like I took a screenshot, or is there a difference?

  • Some PDF viewers (for example, Perview and Skim on the Mac) allow you to extract portions of a PDF file in native PDF format, which avoids the aliasing issues of "screenshots".
    – JeffE
    Jan 16, 2013 at 0:48
  • 1
    Rebuild from...? (I.e. from raw data, from reverse-engineered plot, or just vectorization of the graphics?) Jan 16, 2013 at 11:37
  • @PiotrMigdal I think rebuild may be the wrong word. Reconstruct would be more apposite. I used TikZ and made my graphic look very similar to the one from the paper.
    – Dave
    Jan 19, 2013 at 14:55
  • @JeffE, is it legal to do that? I mean, extract portions of PDF for your own use (obviously one must cite it)?
    – user107
    Jun 5, 2013 at 6:56

2 Answers 2


There are two parts to this question: citation and copyright issues.

  • Regarding citation: cite the source of the data/graphics/charts/schemes.

  • For the copyright part, if the presentation of the data is really identical, most journals liberally give permission for reüse (you have to ask for it), but require an acknowledgement of the form “Reprinted with permission from …”. That should cover modifications in format (bitmap to vectorial, or bitmap downsampling, etc.), but I have already seen people actually note the difference by using “Redrawn with permission from …”. Now, if the figure is based on the first one, but with substantial modifications, you can be happy with only citing the source, or possibly adding “Figure based on X with permission from …”.

  • If Dave's presentation is only for an academic purpose i.e. A lab seminar, is this still necessary, Dave did not mention it though, and I wholeheartedly agree that proper citation and permissions are due for a conference presentation. Jan 16, 2013 at 6:27
  • @Leonpalafox Citation is clear, but is permission really required for a conference presentation? I always thought it would fall under fair use. One or two figures from a paper is a small part, and you can probably argue that you are using it for review / critique of the original source.
    – silvado
    Jan 16, 2013 at 10:53
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    @silvado the first rule of fair use is: “unless you are a lawyer, don't talk about fair use”… (it's really tricky)
    – F'x
    Jan 16, 2013 at 11:00
  • @F'x (When it comes to the second point.) Seriously? For reusing plots in papers, anything publishable, or a more serious website - sure. But for using such for slides, I never ask (and never will :)), as probably vast majority of others. It's not as if I were taking advantage of their effort - I'm promoting their work! Jan 16, 2013 at 11:35
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    @PiotrMigdal I am not saying it is not fair use, only that it is a complex and somewhat gray area. Also, I am not saying that it is morally wrong, either. Actually, I do the same as you: I only request permission for figures I publish in books and papers, not conference slides. But I don't think the legality of this is a settled matter.
    – F'x
    Jan 16, 2013 at 12:43

For presentations, when you are using graphics from other papers, you refer to the paper. The most important think is not to pretend that it's yours and to point to the source (perhaps your whole point of this slide is to refer to a specific paper).

You may add "from [cite]" but usually it's "obvious".

Also, if the graphical differences are not trivial (i.e. programs almost always modify graphics anyway), you can add something like "redrawn from data from [cite]".

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