Graphics Requirements

It is our goal to help you produce and submit the highest quality graphics and multimedia to accompany your article. This section reviews how to prepare and submit electronic files for publication.


A figure includes the entire illustration or diagram, as well as labeling, belonging to a single caption. Figures can be integrated in the main article or supporting information.  The supplement file should be converted to a .PDF file.

Recommended Graphics File Types

AGU recommends that you submit figures as .eps, .tif, .jpg, or .pdf file types.

.eps is a vector graphics format. Vector graphics combine mathematically mapped points, lines, curves, and shapes to create images. These files provide the sharpest reproduction of line art, graphs, and text and can be enlarged without any loss in quality.


(left) A raster-based file is made from a grid of pixels. (right) A vector-based file is created from mathematically mapped lines and shapes.

.tif and .jpg files are raster graphics formats. Raster-based art forms images through a grid of pixels, or points of color. These files are best for reproducing photography and photorealistic images. The quality of a raster image depends on resolution, or the number pixels per inch (PPI). Therefore, all raster graphics must have a resolution between 300 and 600 ppi (at final size).

.pdf is an open standard for exchanging documents. Depending on the software used to create it, a .pdf can contain high-quality vector and/or raster-based images. Always choose “Press Quality” under .pdf options.

Preparing Graphics Files

Line Art Vector graphics formats such as .eps offers the best reproduction of sharp edges, like those in type, graphs, and bar charts. Most vector drawing programs offer an .eps “Save As” or “Export” option. When saving .eps files, please be sure that they meet the criteria below.


An example of line art created using a vector-based format such as .eps

  • Color should be in RGB mode.
  • Fonts must be outlined, converted to curves, or embedded.

(left) Outlined text and (right) Nonoutlined text

  • All lines must be at least 0.5 point (i.e., do not use hairline rules)

A figure using (left) hairline lines and (right) the correct 0.5 point lines.

Raster Art: This format is best for photography, halftones, shading, texture, patterns, or gradation blends. The image quality of a raster based file is determined by resolution (PPI). When saving or exporting as a .tif or .jpg, please follow these criteria.

  • .tif and .jpg files must be saved with resolution between 300 and 600 ppi at final print size.
  • Color should be in RGB mode.
  • For .tif, use LZW compression (if available). For .jpg, use high or maximum quality.

A raster-based file is ideal for reproducing photographic
images, halftones, shading, texture, patterns, or blends.

Combination Art: To reduce the file size of complex vector art, or to combine and label raster-based art, a figure file can combine vector elements with raster. This means that complex or photographic portions of a figure come from a raster file while the type and line art are added using a vector editing program (such as Illustrator or Powerpoint.) When opening a raster file in a vector editing program, use the “open” or “import” commands.


An example of combination art that combines a raster background with vector lines and type.

(Never use copy/paste, cut/paste, a screenshot, or screen dump to open your files in another program.)
The image resulting from combination art should be saved as an .eps file. When using PowerPoint, save the image as a .pdf file.

Recommended Graphics Programs

Several graphics software packages are available to help you create high-quality graphics:

  • Adobe Photoshop Is the premier raster editing program
  • Adobe Illustrator is the premier vector editing program
  • Microsoft PowerPoint is a presentation program but can be used to create, combine, and edit images containing both raster and vector elements. In order to produce a figure with Powerpoint, create a .pdf using the Adobe.pdf menu, or by “printing to file” as a .pdf. Be sure to select “Press Quality” under the .pdf options.
  • Microsoft Excel is not recommended for figure production except charts or graphs generated from cell data. Save an Excel file as a PDF. Select “Press Quality” under .pdf options.
  • Microsoft Word is not recommended for producing figures or any graphics files.
  • CorelDraw can produce high-quality raster files such as .tif or .jpg.
  • GIMP (freely distributed at is a free raster editing program capable of producing high-quality raster images.
  • Inkscape (freely distributed at is a free vector editing program capable of producing high-quality vector art and exporting as .eps.

Recommended Fonts

In order for the text in your published figures to have the same appearance as that in your figure files, AGU recommends using these standard fonts:

  • Arial
  • Helvetica
  • Times
  • Symbol

Any nonstandard font used in a vector-based .eps or .pdf file should be outlined, converted to curves, or embedded (see Line Art).

Recommendations for File Types and Formats

Format File Type Recommendation
vector .eps Excellent for lines,
graphs, and type. No
resolution restrictions.
raster .jpg
Best for photographic
images. Resolution
between 300 and 600
ppi at final print size.
.pdf Can contain excellent
vector- or raster-based
elements depending
on the program used.
Excel file
Save as or Print-to-file
as a PDF. Choose
“press quality” preset.
Point file
.ppt Save as or Print-to-file
as a PDF. Choose
“press quality” preset.
Not recommended
for graphics file

Figure Sizing

AGU’s goal is for the text size of the labeling in each figure to match the text size in the body of the article. This means that for most AGU journals, text and labeling in a figure should be 8 points at the final printing size. Subscript and superscript should be 6 points.

All information within the figure, including symbols, legends, characters, patterns, and shading, must be legible at the final size. Figures should be sized between:

  • 1/4 page figure = 95 mm x 115 mm
  • Full page = 190 mm x 230 mm

 Resolution Requirements for Raster Images

 Raster (.tif or .jpg)  Resolution (in Pixels)
Minimum size 590 – 1180
1/4 page 1416 – 2832
1/2 to 2/3 page 2006 – 4012
Full page 2242 – 4484


Multipart Figures: Multipart figures should be combined into one figure file and have sequential lowercase letter labels added for reference to the figure’s caption. The number of figure files should equal the number of figure captions.

If you need to add labels or combine figures, open or import your files into a vector drawing program. (Never use copy/paste, cut/paste, a screenshot, or screen dump to open your files in another program.

File Naming

Name each file according to: the AGU manuscript number, a hyphen, the figure number and its file format. Examples: 2011ja002893-f01.tif, 2010wr012798-f01.eps

For supplemental figures, all figures should be included with text in one supplemental file, and converted to a PDF file. If separate files are necessary because of the figure layout (for example, a large landscape map) add the upper case “S” before the figure number. Examples: 2011gc009734-sf01.eps.

Figure Checklist

Before submitting your files, please be sure of the following:

  • Files are in the correct format, .eps, .tif, .jpg, or .pdf.
  • Color images are created and saved in RGB color mode.
  • The art in raster-based files has a resolution of 300-600 ppi.
  • The type in the figure uses a standard font: Arial, Helvetica, Times, or Symbol, or is outlined, converted to curves, or embedded.
  • The lettering in the figure is close to 8 point type (6 point for subscript and superscript) at final print size.
  • For initial submission, we prefer that figures are included inline with the text and caption to make reviewing easier.  At revision, all figures that are part of the main text should be provided as separate files; figures in the supplement should be included inline with their captions.


Multimedia can include any electronic, audio, video, animation, or interactive format, and can be any file type.

For widest availability of movies, AGU recommends submitting files that can be viewed using Windows Media Player and are no larger than 50 mb.

Multimedia as Supporting Information

To submit multimedia files as supporting information using the GEMS submission form, under Quantities, select “Dynamic Content.” There is no charge for the submission and archiving of supporting information.

Article-Integrated Multimedia

Multimedia files can also be integrated into the article, either as a still image or as a placeholder. In both cases, the caption will direct the reader to the online multimedia files.


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