Tips for scientific figures

How to quickly improve your scientific figures and slides.

Here’s a bunch of thrown together helpful links if as a researcher / scientist you want to improve the way you illustrate your publications and presentations with your figures, graphs, plots and your data visualization.

PLOS Comp. Biol. publication 10 tips to improve figures: The authors provide a basic guide to choosing the best way to represent your data depending on your target audience and the type of communication. At the end of the publication there is a list of useful open source software tools worth (re-)discovering.

Do you feel that searching for quality images on the web to enhance your presentations / documents is a waste of time? You worry that you might trespass on copyrights? The really good images are expensive? Or did you stop trying long time ago as you never found anything fitting?
Here’s the answer: Library of science illustrations quality scientific images made by professional illustrators with scientific background available on pay-if-you-want basis. The website is dedicated to providing tools under a Creative Commons license so that you can create, share, build upon and redistribute beautiful slides for presentations or figures for your documents at no or very low cost.


Microscope, an image from the library of scientific images.

Colour choices for your figures / slides can be a source of trouble (see my separate post on colour choice in scientific figures). Have you already thought about the possible pitfalls? And what about your audience? Can they see what you see?
Why should scientists be worried about colour? describes possible problems of colour choices in data visualization.
How to make scientific figures and presentations friendly to colour-blind people by Masataka Okabe and Kei Ito is a very useful resource providing a complete overview of how to create figures clear to all your audience including people with colour vision impairment.
Further links concerning figures for all:
Nature blog on colour blindness
Tips for designing scientific figures for colour blind readers

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