16 Illustrations and artwork

16.1 General principles

16.1.1 Introduction

Illustrations are non-textual graphic elements, commonly referred to as artwork, used to enhance publications of all kinds, and are an essential part of many works, from children’s stories to technical manuals, in both conventional print and online/digital media. They may be, for example, photographic images, graphs, charts, maps, or drawings/cartoons, essential to the delivery of the ideas in the publication or purely cosmetic/decorative. They may be embedded in the main text or appear separately; they may be an integral part of the design. Multimedia publication also allows the integrated use of audio and video elements, although this aspect is beyond the scope of the present chapter.

Historically, original artwork was typically supplied to publishers as black and white drawings, tone photographs, or colour transparencies (hard copy; see 16.4). It is now standard publishing practice for illustrations to be handled as digital artwork (see 16.3), created by the author using digital photography or suitable graphics software packages, or produced by scanning existing hard copies.

There are different criteria for preparing/publishing illustrations in print and digital media—an illustration created for online use (e.g. an infographic; see 16.2.4) will generally not be suitable for high-quality printing. It is important that authors prepare and supply artwork in the correct format for the final output.

Illustrations not created by the author(s) for a specific publication (including illustrations previously published elsewhere or images taken from the web) may be subject to copyright, and permission to reproduce them must be obtained from the copyright holder (see 16.5).

The effective use of illustrations can significantly improve the clarity of the messages conveyed. Consult with your editor/publisher and prepare them at the same time as writing the text. Consider their layout in relation to the overall material, whether printed or digital. Do not let them be an afterthought!

16.1.2 Numbering and citations

Figures (illustrations together with their captions) may be numbered by chapter or section in the order in which they appear (e.g. the second figure in Chapter 1 is Figure 1.2 and the third figure in Section III is Figure III.3); if there are only a few, they can be numbered in a single sequence throughout the text. Figures in an appendix are numbered separately (e.g. the fourth figure in Appendix A1 is Figure A1.4). Numbered plates also use a separate sequence (see 16.2.3).

Depending on the nature of the publication, figures may be subdivided into other graphic elements, such as schemes, flowcharts, structures, maps, etc. These can be included in the same sequence with other illustrations or numbered separately for the sake of clarity.

References to figures may be variously styled—consistency is most important, whichever style is adopted. They can be cited actively:

Fig. 1.3 shows a flowchart of mass input/output.

or passively:

A flowchart using boxes for the process units and arrows for the mass inputs/outputs provides an overview of the process (Fig. 1.3).

All the illustrations in the text should be cited (this will enable hyperlinks to be included in digital media).

Avoid positional references (the figure above or the following illustration) in the original text, as the configuration may change during make-up and on different viewing platforms (see 16.2.3).

16.1.3 Page make-up

The typesetter/designer is usually responsible for overseeing the placement of illustrations, ideally following as close as possible to their first citation in the text. The exceptions are plate sections (groups of high-quality images that benefit from the use of glossy art paper) in printed works—these will be inserted in the most convenient place for subsequent collation.

Page make-up/web design software is used by the typesetter/designer to assemble pages digitally to generate output suitable for printing or on-screen viewing. Various elements such as text and digital artwork are combined in a single file; the elements can be ‘cut & pasted’ on-screen.

Indicate the approximate position of figures with a cue (or tag) in square brackets in the original text, for example:

[FIGURE 1.3]

The aesthetics of page design often dictate the layout of illustrations for print output. Pictures generally appear at the bottom or top of a printed page, or may bleed over the cut edge. Illustrations to be set landscape should always be placed with the head of the illustration turned to the left. In double-column formats, multiple illustrations should follow the flow of the text on the page: down the left column and then down the right. Running heads and page numbers are generally omitted from full-page illustrations in books.

Space should be allowed for the caption, and between the illustration and the text or adjacent illustrations. Ensure that nothing important is lost in the gutter between two pages when illustrations span a two-page spread.

Different criteria may be applied to digital publications, such as web pages and ebooks, to take advantage of the opportunities offered by such media. For example, figures in academic journals may only appear as thumbnails in online versions—these are hyperlinked to full-size versions that open in a new page of a web browser. Be aware that illustrations may be resized and reformatted automatically to provide optimum viewing on different digital platforms (e.g. a large computer monitor or a smaller mobile device).

16.1.4 Scaling (sizing)

The final dimensions of the illustrations will depend on the type of publication (printed or digital) and the layout specifications (e.g. one or two columns) developed by the editor and designer.

Hard-copy original artwork may need to be enlarged/reduced to match the final dimensions (see 16.4.1). Digital artwork should be supplied at the final dimensions and resolution (see 16.3).

Similar illustrations need to be in proportion, especially when being compared. Cropping of hard copy may mean that an original does not have to be reduced as much. Be aware of possible cropping restrictions on copyright images (see 16.5 and Chapter 20).

16.1.5 Labelling (lettering) and shading

Traditionally, authors provided hard-copy roughs that were copy-edited and sent to an illustrator for redrawing, at which stage any essential changes could be made. However, most illustrations are now handled as author-prepared digital artwork (see 16.3) and the publisher may not want to have them redrawn, in which case the changes that can be made will be restricted (e.g. it may not be practical to match editorial style in the text with that of labels/lettering). It is therefore helpful for editors to know whether changes are possible.

Ensure final-size characters are large enough to remain sharply defined in the published version. Labels should be no smaller than 8 points (Helvetica, Arial, or a similar sans-serif font is commonly used). Line widths should be no less than ½ point.

If lettering would obscure an item, use leader lines pointing out the relevant features (Figure 16.1).

Spelling, hyphenation, symbols, and abbreviations for units should match those in the captions (see 16.1.7) and text.

Tints/shading may be used to differentiate areas of an illustration (Figure 16.2), but colour or similar effects should not be the only method used to convey meaning. Ensure that vital information is not lost if the image is displayed without colour. Avoid using solid black for large areas, as this may cause problems in conventional printed works.

16.1.6 Key

The key explains the symbols or conventions used in the illustration. It is usually part of the artwork, although if it is simple it may be included as part of the caption (see 16.1.7). Check that the key corresponds with the caption and text; it may be necessary to relabel artwork taken from other sources accordingly.

Figure 16.1 The human alimentary canal.

16.1.7 Captions

Most illustrations (apart from purely decorative illustrations) require a caption (a complete sentence) or legend (an incomplete sentence, such as in Figure 16.3, although the terms are often used interchangeably), which should indicate the essential content of the illustration. These generally appear beneath (sometimes beside) the illustration, depending on the page design. Captions or legends should begin with the number of the figure or illustration. Source lines or other wording required by the copyright holder should also appear as part of the caption.

Figure 16.2 Accretionary wedge.

Figure 16.3 Upper Palaeolithic blade tools in flint. (A) Solutrean piercer, Dordogne. (B) Magdalenian concave end-scraper, Dordogne. (C) Gravettian knife point, Dordogne. (D) Magdalenian burin, Dordogne. (E) End-scraper, Vale of Clwyd.

Figures (i.e. the illustration and caption) should be able to stand alone from the text. Captions should explain the illustration in full. They should be concise and extraneous information should be removed. Remove or reduce labelling on the illustration by including explanations in the caption, as in Figure 16.3. Use of descriptive terms such as above, below, top, bottom, left, right, and clockwise can also help identify elements in an illustration or components of a group of illustrations.

Ensure the format of the caption text is consistent.

Supply captions as a list at the end of a chapter or in a separate file. Do not integrate them with the text or incorporate them in the artwork (see 16.1.6). Captions for unnumbered illustrations should be clearly identifiable.

Check that spellings, hyphenation, and symbols correspond to those used in the artwork and text.

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New Hart's Rules


Preface Editorial team Proofreading marks Glossary of printing and publishing terms