Art and Photo Specifications

The term illustration is a broad one; it includes line drawings, tables, photographs, cartoons, facsimile material, and screen captures. When is an illustration appropriate? The simple answer is that an illustration is appropriate whenever it can amplify or clarify the text for the reader. However, judicious decisions must be made as to which illustrations are most important.

The size of the illustration program is driven by four factors: (1) the needs of the manuscript and student, (2) the competitive environment, (3) the cost of illustrations, and (4) the projected length of the final book. You and your editor have discussed the extent of your illustration program; recall that your contract specifies the number of line art and/or photographs to be included in the manuscript.

Match the level of detail in the illustration to the level of detail in the surrounding text. (If the text discusses five parts to the eye, there's no reason to label more than five parts on the drawing.) Ensure that labels in illustrations match the vocabulary in the text. New information should not be presented in a piece of art.

Remember that your illustrations, and particularly photos, should represent the diversity of the American population. Choose photographs or illustrations that include people of different ethnic backgrounds. Include a fair distribution of men and women, in all capacities (professional, managerial, blue collar, and so on). Also, remember to include people of various ages and with special characteristics, such as persons with disabilities.
As with boxes or other features, you should be careful about the number of illustrations you include. If there are too many illustrations, it will be difficult to place the illustrations in their optimal position.

Rule of thumb: Do not include more than one illustration or "boxed" feature per manuscript page.

You should keep files of possible illustrations you would like to include in your text. You should keep the original copy of the illustration in your files, and turn that in with the manuscript; our production department needs to receive the original illustration, not a Xerox copy, when you turn in your completed manuscript.

Permissions for adapted art can be tricky. Sources must always be credited whether permission is needed or not.

  • Each illustration should appear on a separate sheet and be placed at the end of the chapter in which it appears.
  • Number each illustration sequentially by chapter: Figure 2-3 is the third figure in Chapter 2.
  • In the text, indicate approximately where the illustration should appear by noting on a separate line, or in the margin, "FIGURE 3-7 HERE" or "PHOTO 12-4 HERE."
  • Label each illustration with its caption. In addition, create a separate double-spaced captions manuscript for each chapter.
  • Note any special characters that your word processor does not support or that we might find difficult to print.
  • Keep the amount of type in the illustration to a minimum. Put descriptions in the illustration caption or text, rather than within the nomenclature. Use keys whenever possible, and strive for consistency.
  • For multicolored books, provide a color copy or information on how color should be used.
The purpose of a line drawing is to better illustrate a concept or idea. Line drawings include graphs (bar graphs, pie charts, line graphs), flow charts, and representational art.
If your contract calls for rough sketches, either computer-generated sketches or hand-drawn sketches are appropriate -- as long as they are neatly drawn and clear in their purpose. Do not spend money on rendering your art -- we will hire an artist to prepare it electronically. Even computer-generated art you prepare yourself is often difficult to adapt to our text, so do not spend your time perfecting it.
If your contract calls for camera-ready line drawings, you should send samples to your editor for review and approval of style and quality as soon as possible. If the line drawings are being created on disk, be sure also to send a copy of the disk clearly labeled so we know what software program you have used.
A table may be the best or only way to present certain material. But tabular material has drawbacks. It can be expensive to set, the reader may skip it because it looks complicated, and it may date more quickly than the rest of the book.

  • Type each table on a separate sheet. Place the tables at the end of the chapter.
  • Label each table with a caption or title and give the source if required.
  • Number each table by chapter. In Chapter 4, for example, the second table would be numbered Table 4-2.
  • In the text, indicate approximately where the table should appear by noting on a separate line, or in the margin, "TABLE 4-2 HERE."
  • Type every table with enough space between columns and around headings to indicate the divisions clearly, but leave to the copyeditor the question of whether vertical or horizontal rules are needed.
  • Use symbols *,+ or superior letters (a, b, c) to mark footnotes to a table; place these notes directly beneath the table so they will not be confused with text footnotes.
  • Refer to the table in text by the number; do not say "above" or "below", because the page layout may not accommodate that placement.
Because the visual component of your textbook is so important, our goal is to work with you to locate the greatest possible variety of high-quality photographs. Photographs should be spaced evenly through each chapter. Your editor will advise you of the total number of photographs (or photo specifications) to include in each chapter, and whether the photographs will be author-provided or publisher-provided.
In some cases you will be asked to provide photographs. For more information about author-supplied photos, go to Guidelines for Authors Supplying Their Own Photos.
For major-market books, you will be asked to provide photo specifications so that a photo researcher can obtain the photos. The quality of the spec has a direct effect on the quality of the photographs.
  1. Specs are numbered according to their placement. For example, the chapter opener for chapter one would be "1-CO" and the subsequent photos for that chapter would be "1-1, 1-2, 1-3," etc.
  2. The specs must be comprehensible and concise.
  3. Specs should not be too vague (e.g., "Japanese culture"). Give examples or ideas to illustrate your point (i.e., "homogeneous Japanese business culture in the 1980s").
  4. Specs should not be too specific (e.g., "Male high school teacher dresses as George Washington with students reenacting the constitutional convention"). Although this image may exist, finding it could take away from the time and attention available for other photographs.
  5. If you require a specific image, provide as much information as possible about the source of that image including: the title and publisher of the book in which you saw it; the name of the magazine, issue, date, and page in which you saw it; the photographer's name and agency. If there is no credit with the picture, check the book's copyright page or the magazine's copyright page for a listing of "picture credits." No more than 10 percent of your specs should involve these types of specific images.
  6. If you are aware of content-specific sources such as companies, archives, institutes, government agencies, historical/cultural professional organizations, or specific libraries from which we could select unusual images, please provide names, addresses, internet URL(s), and phone numbers with your spec list.
  7. Do not send photocopies or sketches labeled "something like this." Please provide descriptions of both the visual components of the image and the concept that you would like it to convey. This will ensure that we thoroughly understand the spec and make it easier for us to suggest alternative images if your first choice is unavailable.
  8. For revisions, do not simply say "similar to photo in last edition, but different." Tell us why the image is being changed (e.g., "more modern photo," "would like younger students").
  9. List two extra specifications per chapter, just in case we have difficulty locating an image.
Examples of Ideal Photo Specs
  • 4th-grade classroom with enthusiastic children raising their hands
  • Scene of poverty/hunger in the Developing World (e.g., Somalia).
  • Male teacher working math problem on the board
  • Couple arguing (without physical violence) with child present
  • Happy family engaged in outdoor activity (bicycling, basketball, etc.)
Cartoons are often used to add interest and humor to books in selected markets. In choosing your cartoons, try to use contemporary selections. Consult your series editor for good ideas.

If you are planning to use cartoons in your book, be sure to provide tearsheet from the publication where the cartoon appeared. If you don't have original tearsheet, request it when you request permission to reprint the cartoon.

Note that permissions for cartoons are expensive. For example, cartoons from The New Yorker cost $250 and up. Other comic strips can cost you $100 or more.

Facsimile material consists of material that needs to be reproduced directly from the copy provided without significant alteration. Business forms, assessment forms, stock certificates, pages from pupil editions of textbooks, and children's art are examples of facsimile material.

Be aware that in most cases, this material will have to be reduced substantially to fit into a text format.

In some cases, you will want us to adapt one of the forms stylistically to make it a feature of your book. In other cases, the facsimile material is intended as an example. Please be sure to annotate your list of illustrations to tell us which of these figures must be reproduced exactly as is, and which can be re-created.

If you are planning to annotate the facsimile art itself, please include both an unmarked original form and a photocopy of the form marked up with the caption you wish.

  • Submit individual files prepared as grayscale tiff's for each screen capture
  • Because the reproduction quality of the screen capture is a direct function of the computer's hardware capability, you should use the highest resolution monitor with the most available colors possible.
  • Capture screens at 100% of their screen size.
  • For a large art program, send samples to our production department for evaluation.
For more information about screen captures, see Guidelines for Author-Prepared Art.

In addition to a figure number, or sometimes instead of one, an illustration should carry a short title or descriptive legend (caption). There are a number of ways to make your captions into a sales feature and learning tool -- you may want to use a caption to explain highlights of a figure. Your editor may have some specific ideas about how to do this.
Keys to Writing Good Captions
  • Relate illustrations to surrounding text.
  • Generally speaking, try to keep your captions to a maximum of 40 - 50 words.
  • A caption should not introduce new information.

Often a credit courtesy line acknowledging the source of the illustration is necessary. See Permissions for more information about citations.

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