Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Making nice figures

Figures are Important
Everyone seems to know that figures are the most important part of the paper, so why not do a little research into not only what makes a great figure, but also what makes a unique memorable figure. 

Before you write a paper, or even start a project, its a good idea to know what figures you want to make. There are many different ways to display data, so have a look through them and decide which ones might be suitable for you. 

These are some websites I like to take inspiration from 



One important part of making figures is the use of color. Most journals will let you publish online color figures, but these must also be view-able in black and white (greyscale) format. It is therefore important to vary shading in your figure between subjects or variables. I found the following websites very helpful in choosing colors regimes for figures.   


Change the number of classes you need for you data, then use the 'eyedropper' tool from your graphics program. 

Also here is a paper from nature methods, showing the best color and shading techniques for figures. 


Finally, most people know this, but for most figures (that aren't photos) you will need to build your figure in a program which can produce a scalable vector graphic. 

Corel and Adobe illustrator are the most popular but also cost money

Inkscape is a good free alternative. 

Learn how to use one program well, its worth the time. 

Let me know if you have any other helpful suggestions i can add.

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