Image manipulation. Digital images submitted for publication may be inspected by ASM production specialists for any manipulations or electronic enhancements that may be considered to be the result of scientific misconduct based on the guidelines provided below. Any images/data found to contain manipulations of concern will be referred to the editor in chief, and authors may then be requested to provide their primary data for comparison with the submitted image file. Investigation of the concerns may delay publication and may result in revocation of acceptance and/or additional action by ASM.
Linear adjustments to contrast, brightness, and/or color are generally acceptable, as long as the measures taken are necessary to view elements that are already present in the data and the adjustments are applied to the entire image and not just specific areas. Unacceptable adjustments to images include, but are not limited to, the removal or deletion, concealment, duplication (copying and pasting), addition, selective enhancement, or repositioning of elements within the image.
Nonlinear adjustments made to images, such as changes to gamma settings, should be fully disclosed in the figure legends at the time of submission. In addition, images created by compiling multiple files, including noncontiguous portions of the same image, should clearly convey that these multiple files are not a single image. This can be done by “tooling,” or inserting thin lines, between the individual images.
File types and formats. Illustrations may be continuous-tone images, line drawings, or composites. On initial submission, illustrations may be supplied as PDF files, with the legend on the same page, to assist review. At the modification stage, production quality digital files must be provided, along with text files for the legends. The legends are copyedited and typeset for final publication, not included as part of the figure itself. All graphics submitted with modified manuscripts should be grayscale or in the RGB color mode. See “Color illustrations.” Halftone images (those with various densities or shades) must be grayscale, not bitmap. mSphere® accepts only TIFF or EPS files; PowerPoint files will not be accepted.
We strongly recommend that before returning their modified manuscripts, authors check the acceptability of their digital images for production by running their files through Rapid Inspector, an easy-to-use, Web-based application that identifies file characteristics that may render the image unusable for production.
If you require additional information, please send an e-mail inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Minimum resolution. Minimum resolution is 300 dpi for all file types. All images imported into a figure file must be at the correct resolution before they are placed in the file. (For instance, placing a 72-dpi image in a 300-dpi EPS file will not result in the placed image meeting the minimum requirements for file resolution.) Note that publication quality will not be improved by using a resolution higher than the minimum.
Size. All graphics should be submitted at their intended publication size; that is, the image uploaded should be 100% of its print dimensions so that no reduction or enlargement is necessary. Resolution must be at the required level at the submitted size. Include only the significant portion of an illustration. White space must be cropped from the image, and excess space between panel labels and the image must be eliminated.
- Maximum figure width: 6.875 inches (ca. 17.4 cm)
- Maximum figure height: 9.0625 inches (23.0 cm)
Contrast. Illustrations should contain sufficient contrast to be viewed easily on a monitor or on the printed page (for reprints).
Labeling and assembly. All final lettering and labeling must be incorporated into the figures. Put the figure number well outside the boundaries of the image itself. (Numbering may need to be changed at the copyediting stage.) Each figure must be supplied as a separate file, and any multipanel figures must be assembled into one file; i.e., rather than uploading a separate file for each panel in a figure, assemble all panels in one piece and supply them as one file.
Fonts. To avoid font problems, set all type in one of the following fonts: Arial, Helvetica, Times Roman, European PI, Mathematical PI, or Symbol. Courier may be used but should be limited to nucleotide or amino acid sequences, where a nonproportional (monospace) font is required. All fonts other than these must be converted to paths (or outlines) in the application with which they were created.
Compression. Images created with Macintosh applications may be compressed with Stuffit. Images created with Windows applications may be compressed with WinZip or PKZIP.
Color illustrations. All figures submitted in color will be processed as color. Adherence to the following guidelines will help to ensure color reproduction that is as accurate as possible.
Color illustrations should be supplied in the RGB color mode, as either (i) RGB TIFF images with a resolution of at least 300 pixels per inch (raster files, consisting of pixels) or (ii) Illustrator-compatible EPS files with RGB color elements (vector files, consisting of lines, fonts, fills, and images). For reprints, ASM’s print provider will automatically create CMYK versions of color illustrations from the supplied RGB versions. Color in the reprints may not exactly match that in the online journal of record because of the smaller range of colors capable of being reproduced by CMYK inks on a printing press.
Drawings. Submit graphs, charts, complicated chemical or mathematical formulas, diagrams, and other drawings as finished products not requiring additional artwork or typesetting. All elements, including letters, numbers, and symbols, must be easily readable, and both axes of a graph must be labeled.
When creating line art, please use the following guidelines:
- All art must be submitted at its intended publication size. For acceptable dimensions, see “Size.”
- Avoid using screens (i.e., shading) in line art. It can be difficult and time-consuming to reproduce these images without moiré patterns. Various pattern backgrounds are preferable to screens, as long as the fill patterns are not imported from another application. If you must use images containing screens,
- Generate the image at line screens of 85 lines per inch or lower.
- When applying multiple shades of gray, differentiate the gray levels by at least 20%.
- Never use levels of gray below 5% or above 95%, as they are likely to fade out or become totally black when output.
- Use thick, solid lines that are no finer than 1 point in thickness.
- Use type that is no smaller than 6 points at the final publication size.
- Avoid layering type directly over shaded or textured areas.
- Avoid the use of reversed type (white lettering on a black background).
- Avoid heavy letters, which tend to close up, and unusual symbols, which the printer may not be able to reproduce in the legend.
- If colors are used, avoid using similar shades of the same color and avoid very light colors.
In figure ordinate and abscissa scales (as well as table column headings), avoid the ambiguous use of numbers with exponents. Usually, it is preferable to use the appropriate Système International d’Unités (SI) symbols (µ for 10–6, m for 10–3, k for 103, and M for 106, etc.). Thus, representation of 20,000 cpm on a figure ordinate should be made by the number 20 accompanied by the label kcpm. A complete listing of SI symbols can be found in the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) publication Quantities, Units and Symbols in Physical Chemistry (RSC Publishing, Cambridge, United Kingdom, 2007), and at http://www.nist.gov/pml/pubs/sp811/.
Where powers of 10 must be used, the journal requires that the exponent power be associated with the number shown. In representing 20,000 cells per ml, the numeral on the ordinate should be “2” and the label should be “104 cells per ml” (not “cells per ml x 10–4"). Likewise, an enzyme activity of 0.06 U/ml would be shown as 6 accompanied by the label 10–2 U/ml. The preferred designation would be 60 mU/ml (milliunits per milliliter).
Long nucleic acid sequences must be presented as figures in the following format to conserve space. Print the sequence in lines of approximately 100 to 120 nucleotides in a nonproportional (monospace) font (e.g., Courier) that is easily legible when published with a line length of 6 inches (ca. 15.2 cm). If possible, lines of nucleic acid sequence should be further subdivided into blocks of 10 or 20 nucleotides by spaces within the sequence or by marks above it. Uppercase and lowercase letters may be used to designate the exon-intron structure or transcribed regions, etc., if the lowercase letters remain legible at a 6-inch (ca. 15.2-cm) line length. Number the sequence line by line; place numerals representing the first base of each line to the left of the lines. Minimize spacing between lines of sequence, leaving room only for annotation of the sequence. Annotation may include boldface, underlining, brackets, and boxes, etc. Encoded amino acid sequences may be presented, if necessary, immediately above or below the first nucleotide of each codon, by using the single-letter amino acid symbols. Comparisons of multiple nucleic acid sequences should conform as nearly as possible to the same format.
On initial submission, to assist review, figure legends must be incorporated in the image files and appear beneath the figures. At the modification stage, figure legends must be provided within the main text, after the References section.
Legends should provide enough information so that the figure is understandable without frequent reference to the text. However, detailed experimental methods must be described in the Materials and Methods section, not in a figure legend. A method that is unique to one of several experiments may be reported in a legend only if the discussion is very brief (one or two sentences). Define all symbols used in the figure and define all abbreviations that are not used in the text.
The main text file should also contain a legend for each item in the supplemental material (see “Supplemental Material”).
Tables that contain artwork, chemical structures, or shading must be submitted as illustrations in an acceptable format at the modification stage. The preferred format for regular tables is Microsoft Word; however, WordPerfect and Acrobat PDF are also acceptable. Note that a straight Excel file is not currently an acceptable format. Excel files must be either embedded in a Word or WordPerfect document or converted to PDF before being uploaded.
Tables should be formatted as follows. Arrange the data so that columns of like material read down, not across. The headings should be sufficiently clear so that the meaning of the data is understandable without reference to the text. See the “Abbreviations” page of these Instructions for those that should be used in tables. Explanatory footnotes are acceptable, but more-extensive table ”legends” are not. Footnotes should not include detailed descriptions of the experiment. Tables must include enough information to warrant table format; those with fewer than six pieces of data will be incorporated into the text by the copy editor. Table 1 is an example of a well-constructed table.
Each collected bimonthly issue of mSphere is represented by a featured image, derived from an article in the issue. These featured images are used to represent the issues in the online archives.
Invitations to submit a featured image are issued to authors whose manuscripts are returned for modification or whose manuscripts have been accepted for publication in mSphere; material should be related to the work presented in the manuscript. Unsolicited art will also be considered. No material submitted for consideration will be returned to the author. Authors will be notified only if their image is selected. A license for the chosen material must be granted to ASM. Questions or suggestions regarding the featured image can be sent to the editor in chief, Michael Imperiale (email@example.com).