Guidelines for Preparation of Illustrations

Download a PDF version of these guidelines.

Please let us know as early as possible if you hope to include photographs, maps, tables, or figures (graphs and charts) in your book. Before you put the final touches on your manuscript, we’d like to evaluate all your illustration ideas—digital images or photographic prints if you already have them (photocopies or web links otherwise), drafts of figures and tables, outlines for or rough sketches of map ideas. Our staff will collaborate with you in deciding which illustrations to include in your book and how best to prepare and use them. To spare yourself unnecessary effort and expense, we recommend that you not prepare or assemble final artwork (for example, ordering high-resolution scans or producing final maps) until you have conferred with your editor.

We’re happy to advise you on questions related to image quality or on technical matters. Please don’t hesitate to request a consultation with our design and production staff, especially if you intend to include any form of digital art (scans, digital photos, or computer-generated maps or charts) in your book. As applicable, please also read the AUP’s Digital Art Requirements for Submission, and contact us if your question is not addressed in those guidelines. If the guidelines seem too complex, it would probably be a good idea to have a graphics professional assist with the preparation of any digital art.

Unless your contract states otherwise, you will be responsible for providing all final art in a format that meets our requirements. We reserve the right to reject any art that does not meet our requirements.


Once final selections have been made, please secure all permissions required for the use of illustrations that are not in the public domain. When seeking permission, please request world rights for all editions and all media, including digital, as well as use in publicity, marketing, and social media promotion with credit line; the request to use the image in publicity is not essential for use of the image in your book, so the rights holder may decline, but having images available for such use assists in the marketing of your book. If any necessary illustrations permissions are not in hand by the time copyediting is finished, the corresponding illustrations may be dropped from the book. Whether or not permissions are required, we ask that you send us an Art Inventory and Permissions Summary, when you send your illustrations.


For photos to be reproduced in black and white: Please begin discussing the inclusion of any artwork with your acquisitions editor well before the submission of your final manuscript. Do not order prints or high-resolution digital files until the editor has evaluated the proposed illustrations. Once your choices have been vetted by the Press, however, we advise you to order the photographs and permissions immediately; these can take time to obtain, and we must have final illustrations and permissions in hand by the time copyediting is finished—no later than two months after you submit your final manuscript.

Scans and digital photographs that adhere to our digital art guidelines are best (for a quick summary of minimum standards, see the section on scans and digital photos below); prints, slides, or transparencies are also acceptable. (For information on ordering slides and transparencies, see the section on color photographs.) Prints should not be mounted; number and label each on its back using a pencil. Do not use a ball-point or felt-tipped pen, and never use paperclips or scotch tape on photos. Place sheets of paper between photographs so that marks will not transfer from the back of one photograph to the front of the next.

For photos that are to be reproduced in color (specific subject areas and special cases only; consult your editor): Please do not order slides, transparencies, or high-resolution digital versions until we have evaluated the proposed illustrations. Once your choices have been vetted by the Press, however, you should seek permission as soon as possible. At that time you may also provide prints, slides, or transparencies of your own photographs, or you may order scans after receiving technical specifications from the Press; however, please do not order slides or transparencies from institutions (which often have short loan periods) until we instruct you to do so.

Slides and transparencies, when submitted, should be clearly identified and placed in protective sleeves. Before you send slides or transparencies from your own collections, please have copies professionally made.

The four-color printing process used for book printing can achieve a close match to the original color but never matches exactly. If you are concerned about color accuracy and are providing scans rather than transparencies or prints for color art, please also provide accurate color prints to be used for matching.

Scans and photos taken with digital cameras: Resolution, image size, and format are critical factors that determine the quality of digital photographs and their suitability for printing in books. If you are unfamiliar with the terminology or technical specifications requested below, please consult with the Press before submitting any scans or photographs taken with digital cameras; we will advise you on the acceptability or usability of your images.

  • Size: Digital photos and scans of photos should be a minimum of 1500 pixels wide or tall (for certain large format books, the Press may request an even larger minimum). Bigger is always better—if you have higher-resolution photos, do not reduce them to the minimum size. File size is not necessarily an accurate indication of resolution. If you are not sure of a photo’s resolution, you are welcome to submit a sample photo for checking.
  • Format: We strongly prefer TIFFs over JPGs. JPG is a compressed format, which allows for a smaller file but can eliminate vital information, leaving a low-quality image that is not suitable for printing at book standards. Please do not edit and/or resave photographs in JPG format.
  • Resampling: Do not resample a smaller image (that is, do not open the image in a photo editing program and specify a higher resolution). Resampling forces the program to create information to make up for the resolution information it doesn’t have. Although the image file will appear to be the correct size, the quality of the image will not be good enough to print. Resampling is akin to blowing up a portion of an out-of-focus photograph.

Placement of photos: We often collect photographs together in what is known as a photo gallery. If the illustrations are closely tied to specific sections of the text, let us know that you would like to scatter them (that is, place them throughout the book). In that case, the final text should contain a one-line marker (call-out) for each photograph indicating suggested placement (for example, ). Please do not embed images in your manuscript. Heavily illustrated books (for example, art books or nature guides) might not need call-outs; consult your editor.


Original maps are difficult and expensive to prepare and should be included in your book only if they provide vital information that will help readers make sense of the text. If you think your book needs maps, please let your editor know the purpose of each proposed map. Do not begin map preparation until we have talked to you about your ideas.

Because cartography requires specialized training and skill, the Press prefers to supervise the preparation of maps that appear in its books. We can have maps prepared by a cartographic service at your expense, or we can work with a cartographer known to you, in which case we would like to speak with him or her and see samples before any work is begun. We will work directly with your cartographer to make sure there is a clear understanding of what is necessary and expected. No matter which cartographer is chosen, you are responsible for the cost of map preparation.

Although we have access to cartographic services, you are responsible for the content of the map and must provide all the information required for its creation. For each map, we need the following:

Map title and purpose. Give the exact title of the map, including dates. Also explain the purpose of the map. What is it supposed to accomplish? What are you trying to show?

One or more accurate source, or reference, maps. A map represents a geographic area at a particular time. Topography, place names, and boundaries can change. If you are trying to show the coast of South Carolina in 1750, we must have a 1750 (or thereabouts) map to work from—we cannot work from a current map. Try to find source maps that include accurate scale and orientation. When you provide a copy of a historical map, give us the title and date of the original map, the name of the cartographer and engraver, and the present location of the map. Mark up copies of your source maps to highlight everything you want shown on your finished maps: borders, geographical features, bodies of water, cities and towns, roads and railroads, and so forth.

If no existing maps show the content you seek, please provide as neat and accurate a draft map as possible.

Labels. Please type a list of all labels that should be included on the map. Make sure that they agree with the information given in your book (for example, if a town name is spelled one way on some source maps but another in your book, the label should use the spelling you use in the book). Arrange labels in categories, putting all things of a like nature together—list all bodies of water together, all counties together, all cities of the same importance together. Consider whether a key or legend will help make the map’s content clear.

After the map materials have been reviewed by your project editor, the copyeditor, and the staff designer, we will provide typesetting and production instructions for the cartographer. At that point, map preparation can begin.

The text of your manuscript should contain a one-line marker for each map indicating suggested placement (for example, ). Do not embed map manuscript in your text. Place labels for each map in separate files.

If you have or your cartographer has questions about map preparation, contact your editor.


A table should provide vital details in a format that will help readers comprehend your analysis in a way that text alone cannot. Please examine your tables critically and discuss them with your editor before you send us your revised manuscript. For best practices on table formatting, consult The Chicago Manual of Style, seventeenth edition, chapter 3.

Place the tables in separate digital files; the text should contain a one-line marker for each table indicating suggested placement (for example, <insert table 3 approximately here>). Do not embed tables in your text.

FIGURES (Charts and Graphs)

Include figures in your book only if they elucidate the topic in ways that words alone cannot. If you think your book needs figures, please provide drafts to your editor before you send us your revised manuscript. Preparation of figures can be complicated and expensive, so we’ll want to review the proposed figures closely. You and your editor should agree on a plan for figure production. The Press prefers to prepare final figures following data points and drafts you provide. Other options are for us to supervise an outside graphic artist, or for you to prepare final art that adheres to the digital art guidelines.

If the Press will be preparing the final figures, please provide draft figures, captions, and data points when you send us your final manuscript.

The Press can also supervise a graphic artist of your choosing, but we have found that many artists do not have access to software that is compatible with our resources. Before we can agree to supervise an artist who has not worked with us previously, we need to review samples of similar figures the artist has produced and get information about the software the artist uses. Once we have approved the artist, we will provide specifications (width, depth, typefaces, etc.) to be followed in producing the art.

If you elect to create final versions of charts and graphs yourself, this material can be provided in the following ways (in order of preference):

  1. as native application files prepared in Adobe Illustrator;
    as 1200 dpi TIFFs;
  2. as 1200 dpi reproduction-quality black-and-white reflective art on coated paper;
  3. as EPS files from a vector-based drawing program, such as Corel Draw.

Bear in mind that the aesthetic or reproduction quality of figures might be deemed unsuitable for publication. Please see the digital art guidelines for detailed advice.

The text of your manuscript should contain a one-line marker for each figure indicating suggested placement (for example, ). Do not embed figures in your text.


Captions should appear in a separate double-spaced document, keyed by number to the corresponding illustrations. Captions should be just a few lines, including a title or description and a source or credit line.


Most illustrations should be accompanied by alt text, which is a written description that replaces the illustration when it is not available. Like captions, alt text should appear in a separate double-spaced document, keyed by number to the corresponding illustrations. See the Press’s Alt Text Style Guide for best practices when writing alt text.