Guidelines for Color Figures

Do you need to use color?

Although color is useful and attractive, it may not be necessary to get your message across. Be aware that many people who download your paper will print it in black-and-white. Also, 10-15% of men have some form of color blindness. If you need to use color, design your figures to accommodate these situations and minimize or eliminate the loss of essential information.

If you use color, check what your figures will look like:

  • -in B&W. Most programs that create color figures allow quick conversion to B&W, or simply print your figure in B&W.
  • -to a person with color blindness. Use a color checker designed for that purpose. Vischeck ( has a practical service that simulates the appearance of color figures under various forms of color blindness.


  • We accept color figures in the following formats:
    • -TIFF
    • -Adobe Photoshop (.psd)
    • -Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) -- must use PRESS setting under Job Option
    • -Power Point (.ppt)
    • -Excel (.xls)
  • The editorial office requires a hard copy of the image to approve prior to submitting the disk for processing. The printer will also require hard copy of the figure to insure correct color matching.
  • Color graphics files and output devices must be set to CMYK mode, not RGB. For final (i.e., accepted) submissions the resolution must be a minimum of 350 dpi; prior to acceptance, lower resolutions (150 dpi) should be used to minimize file size.
  • Figures must be submitted in the final size desired.
  • Note that nearly all images downloaded from the Internet are in JPEG or GIF format at 72 dpi and are not acceptable for the printing process.

Maximum sizes

  • The maximum width for a 1-column figure is 8.9 cm; for a 1.5-column figure, 13.1 cm; for a 2-column (full width) figure, 18.4 cm.
  • The maximum height of the printed page is 23.2 cm. If the color figure is full page, take into account the space required at the bottom of the page for the figure legend.

Instruction Pages

The information links below provide general instructions for authors and reviewers, as well as general information on the Limnology and Oceanography office.