A picture may be worth a thousand words, but ensuring that those words make sense is important, especially in the context of a scientific figure. Here are some tips for making your figures count.A recap of the tips is given below; by and large, they all follow conventional wisdom:
As pointed out by the author, "These are just a few guidelines and suggestions for handling figures." Overall, "simplicity rules in scientific figures, as in life." I guess no one would argue with such general advices. However, it would be even more helpful to illustrate such points with concrete examples (I know that seems to be beyond the scope of a one-page editorial).
- General considerations: Each figure should make just one point and be self-explanatory.
- See guidelines. "At all stages, the figures should be clear and legible."
- How many figures? The figures should complement the Results section, and be included only necessary.
- How many panels? Better only one; multiple panels "should be logically connected."
- What’s in a label? Keep it succinct, but make the figure self-explanatory.
- Getting colorful. Use color wisely and constantly.
- A legendary figure. The figure legend should concise and informative.
- A model paper. Better have a figure (at the end) of the final model that conveys "the big picture". Honestly, I do not quite get this point.