Making Your Career through Publishing Original Papers
Tables and Figures
Tables and figures should be used to present data effectively. Remember that the rule of the entire manuscript being presented in double-spaced format applies also to all figures, tables, as well as their legends. Tables should be numbered consecutively with a brief title for each written on the table. However this table title is only to prevent confusion for the publisher when arranging the manuscript for publication. The legends to the tables and figures should also be presented separately on separate sheet of paper.
Use a minimum number of internal horizontal lines for tables, and do not use vertical lines within the table at all, and do not enclose tables within rectangular frames. Such vertical lines add nothing to the understanding of the paper, and in fact can make it more difficult to understand the data. For each column in the table, provide a short or abbreviated heading, and if necessary provide a guide to the meaning of the abbreviations in the table legend in a form of a footnote.
For symbols indicating a relationship, you should use, please refer to the Uniform Recommendations of the ICMJE. The most simple is one asterisk followed by one dagger, followed by two superimposed dagger and interlocking capital S, parallel lines, paragraph indication, double asterisks etc. (*, †, ‡,§, ||, ¶, **, ††, ‡‡.)
You do not need to try to make the tables small. The size reduction can be done adequately by the printer. It is more important that you pay attention to the clarity of comprehension of the data presented in the table from the point of view of the reader.
For figures, be sure to check with the journal concerning which format they wish to receive. In electronic submissions, you should check whether they want it in JPEG or GIF or TIFF format. Always do a final check of the figures and tables before submission because sometimes data or lines change as a result of revision or rewriting, and the figures mentioned in the text may become different from those in the tables or vice versa. Ensure that the size of the picture or figures is within the specifications of the journal, and that any letters, numbers or symbols and figures are large enough to enable legibility when reduced to the size of the figures usually used in the journal. As mentioned above, the titles and detailed explanations of figures and tables should be given in a separate sheet devoted to figure legends. Even when you feel that photographs of people have been rendered sufficiently unidentifiable to present in your paper, you must still obtain written permission from them, which you must keep. Failure to do so may cause future problems both for you and the journal. Moreover, it could be a reason for rejection of your paper. As in the case of personal communications, you should obtain written permission to use the figures or the photographs of persons, make copies and keep copies them after submitting the original to the journal.
If you are using a figure that has been previously used in another publication, you should acknowledge the original source, and make clear that you have obtained permission from the copyright holder, or proof that no permission is required. Again you must keep copies of all documents of permission in case of any future investigation of your work.
For electronic publication, color is not usually a problem, but for hard copy reproductions, please follow in detail the instructions of the target journal. Again, place the legends of figures in a separate page using Arabic numerals to explain the symbols etc. used in the figure. One final word of caution, authors are frequently tempted to make the data more understandable to readers by using image enhancement, but this is considered to be a type of fabrication of data, and must never be done. Many journals are now using software that can detect whether an image has been manipulated in any way, and this can not only lead to rejection, but also to a reputation for ethical misconduct and perhaps an embargo on paper from you and your coauthors for a certain amount of time by that journal.