Friday, August 28, 2009

How To Incorporate Illustrations, Charts and Tables Into Your Manuscript

By Phillip Crum

When you self-publish, you often have to do some, if not all, of the work of finding or creating illustrations, charts, and tables for your book. Even if you hire someone to do this for you, here are some guidelines for achieving professional results:

As a self-published author, you may have access to the designer of your illustrations. If so, get the best image quality possible. This usually means getting as “close” to the source of the illustration as possible. In other words, get a copy of the original illustration if you can. A copy of a copy, or a file that has been converted to another format, may be of less quality. 300 dpi (dots per inch) or more is recommended (more is better).

Print all your illustrations, charts and tables in black and white. Color illustrations (in the body of a book) are very expensive to reproduce and as self-publishing author, you may not have the budget for color. Keep in mind that a vibrant illustration with separate, distinct colors may look quite plain in black and white. For example, a medium blue and a medium red may have the exact shade of gray when converted. The more colors in your illustration, the more chance for the black and white result to be indistinguishable. If you self-publish, it might be wise to use a program like Photoshop which has the option of converting color to grayscale, which in some cases can improve the appearance of a black and white illustration. If you use black and white, be sure to include a caption that fully explains what the illustration represents.

Make sure your charts and tables are small enough to be placed within the page margins. Many books are 5.5” by 8.5” which leaves the page size (within the margins) approximately 4.5” by 7.” It’s not recommended to reduce the size of a chart or table when placing it on the page. Create and format them at the proper size, then place them in the book. Just because you are self-publishing doesn’t mean you have to learn things the hard way!

Include figure captions and titles and number then sequentially. Most illustrations can benefit from a caption and so can charts and tables. Typically, the title of a table is in the first row (header row) of the table and includes the title and table number. The title is often in bold type and the header row a light shade of gray. If you are including medical or scientific tables with special characters, check with your printer to make sure they will be printed properly. Some fonts do not support special characters. All book publishers know this and you should too.

A mistake some self-published authors make is they fail to number their illustrations or they number them out of sequence. When writing and editing a book, and reorganizing charts, tables and illustrations, it’s very easy to place them out of sequence. This is very frustrating to the reader and will keep your self-published title from being recognized as a professional, industry-standard effort.

Finally, make a reference in the text for each table, chart and illustration. And once again be careful when editing your book. Make sure your text references are near their corresponding illustrations.

Phillip Crum is the Chief Idea Officer of MarketingMeasure located at 2414 Arbuckle Court Dallas, TX 75229, and is committed to the idea of helping small business owners do a better job of finding their next customer or client. He and his two sons,Tyler and Preston, also own a Sir Speedy Printing franchise and employ those additional capabilities in the overall marketing services menu of offerings. Phillip can be reached at 214-213-7445, or

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