Submit Manuscript

Easy Online Form

Get Newsletter

Sign Up Today

How to Write Figure Legends for Journals: The Path to Publication Success

Writing figure legends for journals

Understanding the Importance of Figure Legends

Diving into the world of scientific publishing, it’s easy to get caught up in the data and forget about the storytelling aspect of your research. Yes, storytelling! Believe it or not, how you present your research, including the figures you use and the legends that accompany them, plays a crucial role in conveying your study’s narrative. Figure legends, those little snippets of text accompanying your graphs, charts, and images, are more than mere captions. They’re a bridge connecting your readers to your data, guiding them through the visual evidence that supports your conclusions.  How to write figure legends for journals is an important step in getting published.

In the realm of science and academia, clarity is king. A well-written figure legend ensures that your audience understands the significance of the data presented, regardless of their expertise in the field. It’s about making your research accessible and digestible to a diverse audience, from fellow experts who might be skimming through dozens of articles in your field, to students and non-specialists who may stumble upon your work. This accessibility not only enhances the reader’s comprehension but also amplifies the impact of your findings.

Moreover, figure legends are instrumental in the peer review process. A reviewer’s comprehension of your visuals directly influences their perception of your work’s quality and relevance. Clear, concise, and informative legends can be the difference between a smooth sail through peer review and a barrage of requests for clarification.

But how exactly do you craft a figure legend that achieves all this? It starts with understanding the anatomy of a perfect figure legend and adapting your writing to meet journal requirements without sacrificing clarity or detail. As we move forward, we’ll delve into the specifics of writing effective figure legends, ensuring your research stands out for all the right reasons.

The Anatomy of a Perfect Figure Legend

When it comes to crafting the perfect figure legend, think of it as constructing a mini-story. Each legend should be self-contained, offering all the necessary information for readers to understand the figure without referring back to the text. This doesn’t mean overloading it with details but striking the right balance between brevity and comprehensiveness.

Structure is Key

A stellar figure legend typically follows a structured approach:

  1. Title: Start with a concise title that encapsulates the figure’s focus. This isn’t just a label but a snapshot of what the figure represents.
  2. Description: Follow with a brief description that outlines the figure’s context within the research. This should include what the figure shows, any relevant conditions or specific variables, and possibly the conclusion that can be drawn.
  3. Details and Definitions: Include any necessary details such as the meanings of colors, symbols, or lines used in the figure. If your figure includes abbreviations or specific measures, define them.
  4. References: Conclude with any references to the dataset or the methods section, if your data warrants further explanation or if the methodology behind the data collection is crucial for interpretation.

Clarity and Conciseness

The hallmark of a well-written figure legend is its clarity. Avoid jargon that isn’t defined in the paper and ensure that any abbreviations are spelled out at first use. Your goal is to make the figure as accessible as possible to a broad audience.

Conciseness is equally important. While you want to include all critical information, being succinct is key. Every word should serve a purpose, contributing to the reader’s understanding of the figure.


Remember, different journals may have specific requirements for figure legends, from word count limits to formatting guidelines. Always check the journal’s guidelines before submitting your manuscript to ensure your legends meet their standards.

Crafting the perfect figure legend is an art that enhances the presentation and comprehension of your research findings. By following these structured steps and focusing on clarity and conciseness, you’re well on your way to creating impactful, understandable figures that effectively communicate your scientific story.

Tailoring Your Legends for Journal Requirements

Every journal has its unique set of guidelines and expectations, especially when it comes to figure legends. Adapting your legends to meet these requirements is not just about compliance; it’s about enhancing the readability and impact of your research within the specific academic community your target journal caters to. Here’s how you can tailor your figure legends effectively:

Familiarize Yourself with the Journal’s Style Guide

The first step is to dive deep into your chosen journal’s submission guidelines. Look for any specific instructions related to figures and legends—this can range from the maximum word count per legend to formatting preferences (like whether to use complete sentences or bullet points) and even specifics on what must be included (e.g., statistical measures, units of measurement).

Understand Your Audience

Journals often cater to specific scientific communities, each with its conventions and expectations. A legend that works well in a broad-spectrum science journal might need tweaking for a publication focused on a niche area. Consider the familiarity of your audience with the techniques and terminology used in your research. When in doubt, err on the side of clarity.

Concise and Clear Language

Regardless of the journal, clarity and conciseness are your best friends. Use active voice and simple, direct language to describe your figure. Avoid unnecessary jargon, and ensure any abbreviations are defined. This is crucial for making your work accessible to a broader audience, including those for whom English might be a second language.

Highlight What’s Important

Tailor your legend to highlight the elements of your figure that are most relevant to your paper’s message. Different journals may emphasize different aspects of research, such as methodology, results, or theoretical implications. Make sure your legend aligns with these priorities, drawing attention to the most critical parts of your figure.

Seek Feedback

Before submission, it’s wise to seek feedback on your figures and legends from colleagues or mentors. They can offer insights on whether your legends meet the journal’s requirements and whether they effectively communicate your figure’s intended message. Sometimes, an external perspective can catch things you might have overlooked.

Revisit and Revise

Finally, be prepared to revisit and revise your figure legends based on feedback from peer reviewers. The peer review process is an invaluable opportunity to refine your figures and their legends to ensure maximum clarity and impact.

By tailoring your figure legends to journal requirements while maintaining clarity and conciseness, you enhance the likelihood of your research not just being published but also being appreciated and understood by your intended audience. It’s a careful balance of meeting editorial standards and maintaining the integrity and accessibility of your scientific narrative.

Clarity and Conciseness: The Key Ingredients

When it comes to figure legends in scientific manuscripts, clarity and conciseness are not just stylistic choices; they’re essential for effectively communicating your research. Let’s break down why these two elements are critical and how you can achieve them in your legends.

Clarity: Making Your Research Accessible

Clarity ensures that your message is accessible to a broad audience, including those outside your specific field of expertise. Here’s how you can achieve clarity in your figure legends:

  • Use Layman’s Terms Where Possible: Simplify complex concepts without diluting the scientific accuracy. If technical terms are necessary, provide clear definitions.
  • Be Specific: Vague descriptions can lead to misinterpretation. Specify what each part of your figure shows, using precise language.
  • Sequence Information Logically: Present information in a logical order that follows the reader’s natural processing flow. Typically, this means starting with a broad description of the figure and then delving into the specifics.

Conciseness: Respecting Your Reader’s Time

Conciseness shows respect for your reader’s time, allowing them to grasp your research’s essentials without wading through unnecessary detail. Here’s how to keep your legends concise:

  • Eliminate Redundancy: Avoid repeating information that’s already presented in the figure or the main text.
  • Use Active Voice: Active voice tends to be more direct and shorter than passive voice, making your sentences clearer and more dynamic.
  • Focus on What’s Essential: Only include details that are crucial for understanding the figure. If additional information is necessary, consider incorporating it into the main text instead.

Balancing Clarity and Conciseness

Finding the right balance between clarity and conciseness can be challenging. Here are a few tips:

  • Draft and Revise: Your first draft is unlikely to be perfect. Write it, then take a step back and revise with a fresh eye, focusing on simplifying language and cutting superfluous details.
  • Seek Feedback: Ask colleagues or mentors to review your legends. They can provide insights on where you might be too technical or too verbose.
  • Refer to Examples: Look at figure legends in well-regarded journals within your field. Analyzing how others balance clarity and conciseness can provide valuable insights for your own writing.

Achieving clarity and conciseness in your figure legends is both an art and a science. It requires a deep understanding of your research, a keen eye for editing, and an appreciation for your audience’s needs. By prioritizing these elements, you ensure that your figures—and the critical data they convey—are as impactful and accessible as possible.

Using Technical Language Effectively

In the scientific realm, technical language is the medium through which complex ideas are conveyed with precision. When it comes to figure legends, the use of technical language must be balanced with the need for clarity and accessibility. Here’s how to navigate this balance effectively:

Know Your Audience

Understanding the background and expertise of your audience is key. If your paper is aimed at specialists in your field, using technical terms may be appropriate and expected. However, if your audience is broader, including students or professionals from related disciplines, it’s important to simplify where possible or provide brief explanations of technical terms.

Be Precise but Not Overly Complex

Technical language allows for precision, which is crucial in scientific writing. However, there’s a fine line between being precise and being unnecessarily complex. Aim for specificity in your descriptions without resorting to jargon that could alienate or confuse readers. For instance, instead of saying “morphological changes,” you might specify “increased cell size” if that’s what your figure illustrates.

Use Abbreviations Judiciously

Abbreviations can make your writing more concise, but they can also obscure meaning if not used carefully. Introduce abbreviations at their first occurrence in the legend (or even in the main text) and use them consistently thereafter. Ensure that their use actually enhances readability and doesn’t hinder it.

Incorporate Definitions Seamlessly

When technical terms are essential, integrate definitions seamlessly into your legend. This can be done in parentheses or through a brief explanatory phrase. The goal is to enlighten, not interrupt. For example: “The graph shows a significant increase in photoluminescence (light emission from a substance not resulting from heat) after exposure to ultraviolet light.”

Leverage Technical Terms for Clarity

Ironically, the right technical term can often be clearer than a long-winded, non-technical explanation. If a term concisely conveys a complex concept, using it can actually enhance clarity. This is especially true when dealing with concepts that have no direct layman equivalent.

Review and Revise

After drafting your figure legends, review them with an eye for technical language. Ask yourself: Could this be simplified? Is there a clearer way to express this idea? Don’t hesitate to revise for the sake of accessibility while maintaining scientific integrity.

Effectively using technical language in figure legends is about striking a balance. It’s about being precise enough to be scientifically accurate yet accessible enough to be broadly understood. Remember, the goal is to communicate your findings as clearly and effectively as possible, regardless of the reader’s background.

The Role of Figure Legends in Research Communication

In the landscape of scientific research, figure legends are not just captions; they are a critical component of research communication. They serve as the nexus between raw data and its interpretation, guiding the reader through the visual evidence that underpins the research findings. Let’s explore how figure legends facilitate effective research communication:

Bridge Between Data and Narrative

Figure legends act as a bridge, connecting the reader with the data presented in figures. They provide context, explain methodologies, and often highlight the significance of the findings. By doing so, legends help integrate figures into the narrative of the research, ensuring that readers can understand and appreciate the evidence supporting the study’s conclusions.

Enhancing Accessibility and Engagement

Well-crafted figure legends enhance the accessibility of your research. They make it possible for a broader audience, including those outside your immediate field, to grasp complex concepts and data. This accessibility is crucial for fostering engagement with your work, encouraging further reading, citation, and discussion within the scientific community and beyond.

Facilitating Peer Review

The clarity and completeness of your figure legends also play a vital role in the peer review process. Reviewers rely on legends to quickly understand the purpose and results of your experiments or analyses. Clear legends can facilitate a smoother review process, reducing the need for clarification and potentially speeding up the path to publication.

Meeting Journal Requirements

Different journals have varying expectations for figure legends, reflecting their specific audience and standards. Adapting your legends to meet these requirements is part of ensuring that your research communicates effectively within the specific context of the journal. Tailoring your approach can maximize the impact and reach of your work.

Aiding in Educational and Outreach Efforts

Beyond their role in research papers, figure legends (and the figures they describe) often find a second life in educational materials, presentations, and outreach efforts. A well-written legend can make a figure standalone, valuable for teaching or public communication, extending the impact of your research beyond its original publication.

In essence, the role of figure legends in research communication is multifaceted. They are essential for clarity, engagement, and the dissemination of scientific knowledge. Crafting effective legends is a skill that amplifies the impact of your research, making your findings more accessible and understandable to a wide audience.

Formatting Tips for Stand-Out Legends

Formatting plays a crucial role in making your figure legends not only readable but also impactful. Here are some tips to ensure your legends are as effective as they can be:

Stick to Journal Guidelines

First things first, always adhere to the formatting guidelines provided by the journal you’re submitting to. These guidelines often include specific requirements for font size, style, legend length, and even how to reference figures within your text. Aligning with these requirements ensures your legends meet the editorial standards and facilitates a smoother review process.

Use Consistent Formatting

Consistency is key in scientific writing, and this extends to your figure legends. Ensure that all your legends follow a consistent format in terms of style, punctuation, and presentation. This uniformity helps readers quickly understand your legends and reinforces the professional quality of your manuscript.

Highlight Key Information

Consider using formatting to highlight key pieces of information within your legends. This might involve bolding significant terms, using italics for genetic sequences or species names, or employing different fonts to distinguish between figure parts. However, use these techniques sparingly to avoid cluttering your legend.

Incorporate White Space

Don’t underestimate the power of white space. Adequately spacing your legends can significantly enhance readability. If a legend is too dense, it becomes challenging to read, especially in the digital age, where many readers will first encounter your work on a screen.

Use Bullets for Complex Legends

For legends that require the listing of multiple elements or conditions, consider using bullet points to break down the information. This format can make complex legends more digestible, guiding the reader through each component of your figure step by step.

Keep It Close to the Figure

Ensure that each legend is closely associated with its corresponding figure, minimizing the need for readers to flip pages or scroll excessively. In digital formats, consider linking figures and legends to allow for easy navigation.

Prioritize Accessibility

In line with enhancing readability, consider the accessibility of your legends for all potential readers, including those with visual impairments. Use clear, legible fonts and avoid color coding that might not be distinguishable by colorblind readers.

Proofread for Perfection

Finally, proofread your legends meticulously. Even minor formatting inconsistencies or typographical errors can detract from the credibility of your work. If possible, have a colleague or professional editor review your legends to catch any issues you might have overlooked.

By following these formatting tips, you can create figure legends that stand out for their clarity, professionalism, and effectiveness in conveying your research findings. Remember, the goal is to complement your figures with legends that are both informative and accessible, enhancing the overall impact of your work.

Common Pitfalls in Writing Figure Legends and How to Avoid Them

Creating the perfect figure legend is a balancing act, and there are several common pitfalls that researchers can fall into. Being aware of these can help you refine your legends for maximum impact.

Overloading with Information

Pitfall: Trying to include too much detail in your legend can overwhelm the reader, making it difficult to grasp the key points.

Solution: Focus on the essentials. Your legend should provide enough information to understand the figure independently but keep additional details for the main text.

Lack of Context

Pitfall: Assuming the reader has prior knowledge or has read the entire paper before reaching the figure.

Solution: Write your legend as if it’s the first piece of your paper the reader sees. Provide enough context to make the figure’s relevance and results clear.

Using Jargon Unnecessarily

Pitfall: Overusing technical terms or acronyms that aren’t widely understood outside your specific field.

Solution: Simplify your language and define any necessary technical terms or acronyms within the legend.

Inconsistencies with the Figure

Pitfall: There’s a mismatch between the information presented in the legend and the data shown in the figure.

Solution: Double-check that your legend accurately reflects what’s presented in the figure. Ensure all elements mentioned in the legend (e.g., symbols, lines, colors) match those used in the figure.

Ignoring Journal Guidelines

Pitfall: Overlooking the specific requirements set by the journal for figure legends.

Solution: Review the journal’s submission guidelines thoroughly before crafting your legends. Adhere to any specified formatting, length, and content requirements.

Forgetting to Proofread

Pitfall: Submitting your manuscript with typos or grammatical errors in your legends.

Solution: Proofread your legends carefully, and consider having a colleague or professional editor review them. This step can catch errors that might otherwise undermine the professionalism of your work.

Neglecting Accessibility

Pitfall: Designing figures and legends without considering accessibility for readers with disabilities, such as colorblindness.

Solution: Use patterns or shapes in addition to colors to differentiate data points, and ensure your legend’s text is clear and legible for all readers.

By being mindful of these common pitfalls and implementing the suggested solutions, you can enhance the clarity, accessibility, and overall effectiveness of your figure legends. This not only benefits your readers but also supports the broader dissemination and impact of your research.

Enhancing Your Figures with Descriptive Legends

A well-crafted legend does more than just describe a figure; it enhances its value to the reader, providing clarity and context that make the figure not just visible but insightful. Here are key strategies to enhance your figures with descriptive legends:

Start with a Strong Title

Your legend should begin with a succinct title that captures the essence of the figure. This title isn’t just a label; it sets the stage for the reader’s interpretation, guiding their focus to the figure’s key message.

Provide a Clear Narrative

A descriptive legend tells a story. It should guide the reader through the figure, highlighting the critical aspects and explaining the relevance to the research. Think of your legend as a mini-narrative that elucidates the figure’s contribution to your paper’s broader story.

Use Descriptive Language

While maintaining scientific accuracy, use language that paints a picture for the reader. Instead of stating “Results show an increase,” specify what was increased, how, and its significance. This approach not only makes your legend more informative but also more engaging.

Contextualize Your Data

Ensure your legend provides enough context for the reader to understand the figure’s significance without needing to refer back to the main text continually. Include brief mentions of the experimental setup, the variables involved, and any specific conditions or treatments.

Clarify Symbols and Colors

If your figure uses symbols, lines, or colors to represent different data points or variables, clearly explain each one. This clarification is crucial for the reader to interpret the figure correctly, especially in complex graphs or charts.

Highlight Key Findings

Use your legend to draw attention to the most important findings depicted in the figure. What do you want the reader to notice? By highlighting these elements, you guide the reader’s interpretation and underscore the figure’s relevance to your research.

Ensure Accessibility

In line with making your figures and their legends as accessible as possible, consider how your descriptions will be understood by a broad audience. This includes using plain language where possible and ensuring that your legend is comprehensible to those who might not have a deep background in your field.

Review and Revise

Finally, revisiting and refining your legend is key. After drafting, take a step back, then review your legend to ensure it’s as clear and descriptive as possible. Getting feedback from peers can also provide new insights and help you polish your descriptions further.

By enhancing your figures with descriptive legends, you’re not just providing information; you’re enriching the reader’s understanding and engagement with your research. Descriptive legends make your figures work harder for your manuscript, transforming them from mere illustrations to powerful tools for communication.

The Impact of Figure Legends on Peer Review

During the peer review process, clear and informative figure legends play a pivotal role in facilitating a smooth evaluation of your manuscript. Here’s how they make a difference:

Enhancing Comprehension

Peer reviewers, despite their expertise, appreciate concise and clear explanations. A well-crafted legend aids in quickly grasping the data presented, reducing the cognitive load and making it easier for reviewers to assess the relevance and accuracy of your findings. This immediate comprehension can positively influence their overall impression of your work.

Demonstrating Attention to Detail

Meticulous and informative legends reflect your diligence and commitment to clarity, signalling to reviewers that you have taken great care in preparing your manuscript. This attention to detail can enhance the credibility of your research and increase the likelihood of a favorable review.

Addressing Potential Questions

A comprehensive figure legend anticipates and addresses questions that might arise from the figure, providing explanations for methodologies, statistical analyses, or unusual data patterns. By preempting these queries, you can streamline the review process, potentially reducing the back-and-forth with reviewers and accelerating the path to publication.

Supporting the Narrative of Your Research

Figure legends are integral in weaving the visual elements of your research into its narrative. By clearly linking your figures to the broader context of your study, legends help reviewers understand the pivotal role each figure plays in supporting your conclusions. This coherence between text and visuals strengthens your argument and enhances the persuasiveness of your manuscript.

Facilitating Technical Evaluation

For technically complex figures, legends that succinctly explain the methodologies, techniques, and analyses employed allow reviewers to more effectively evaluate the soundness of your experimental design and the validity of your conclusions. This clarity is especially critical in fields where the interpretation of data is highly nuanced.

Highlighting Novelty and Significance

Finally, a well-composed figure legend can underscore the novelty and significance of your findings. By articulating what sets your research apart, legends can play a crucial role in convincing reviewers of the importance and impact of your work within your field.

In sum, the impact of figure legends on the peer review process cannot be overstated. They are not merely captions but vital components of your manuscript that enhance understanding, support your narrative, and facilitate a positive review experience. Investing time in crafting precise and informative legends is a strategic aspect of the submission process, paving the way for a smoother review and, ultimately, publication.

Beyond the Basics: Advanced Strategies for Figure Legends

To truly elevate your figure legends, moving beyond just clarity and conciseness to implement advanced strategies can significantly enhance the reader’s experience and the impact of your figures. Here are some sophisticated techniques to consider:

Integrating Storytelling Elements

Think of each figure and its legend as a mini-story within your broader research narrative. Incorporate elements of storytelling, such as setting the scene (context), presenting the challenge (the research question), and providing a resolution (the data interpretation). This approach can make your figures more engaging and memorable.

Employing Data Visualization Best Practices

In addition to writing a compelling legend, consider the visual aspects of your figure. Use data visualization principles to ensure your figure is as clear and informative as possible. This includes selecting the right type of graph, using color effectively, and avoiding clutter. A well-designed figure paired with a strong legend is a powerful tool for communication.

Leveraging Analogies for Complex Concepts

When dealing with highly complex data or concepts, analogies can be a powerful tool in your legend. By relating your findings to more familiar situations or ideas, you can make your research more accessible and easier to grasp for a broader audience.

Highlighting the Unexpected

If your data reveal surprising or counterintuitive results, use your legend to highlight these findings. Drawing attention to the unexpected can pique interest and encourage deeper engagement with your research.

Focusing on the Implications

While it’s important to describe what your figure shows, don’t shy away from briefly discussing its implications in the legend. This can help readers understand the broader significance of your findings and how they contribute to the field.

Using Multimedia Elements (If Applicable)

Some journals now offer the possibility to include or link to multimedia elements, such as video or interactive graphics. If this is an option, consider how you can use these tools to complement your figure and legend. A dynamic or interactive element can dramatically enhance the explanatory power of your figures.

Encouraging Further Exploration

End your legend with a teaser or question that encourages readers to delve deeper into your paper. This tactic can be particularly effective in online formats, where readers may be skimming through figures and legends before deciding to read the full text.

Tailoring Language for Broader Impact

Finally, while maintaining accuracy, tailor the language of your legend to make it as accessible as possible. This means avoiding unnecessary jargon and explaining concepts in a way that can be understood by readers from different disciplines or even the interested public.

By incorporating these advanced strategies into your figure legends, you can transform them from simple descriptions into compelling components of your research story. A well-crafted legend not only enhances the figure it accompanies but also enriches the overall narrative of your paper, making your research more impactful and widely appreciated.

Final Checklist Before Submission: Ensuring Your Legends Are Perfect

Before you hit that submit button, run through this checklist to make sure your figure legends are as clear, informative, and impactful as possible:

1. Alignment with Journal Guidelines

  • Have you followed the specific formatting, length, and content guidelines provided by the journal?

2. Clarity and Conciseness

  • Are your legends clear and to the point, free of unnecessary jargon and details?
  • Have you defined all abbreviations and technical terms?

3. Completeness

  • Does each legend provide enough context to understand the figure independently of the main text?
  • Are all parts of the figure (e.g., symbols, lines, colors) clearly explained?

4. Consistency

  • Are formatting and style consistent across all legends in your manuscript?
  • Is there consistency in how information is presented in the legends and in the figures themselves?

5. Accuracy

  • Do your legends accurately describe what’s shown in the figures?
  • Have you double-checked for any errors or misleading statements?

6. Engagement

  • Have you used storytelling elements or analogies to make complex data more accessible and engaging?
  • Does your legend draw attention to the most important findings and their implications?

7. Accessibility

  • Have you considered the accessibility of your legends and figures for all potential readers, including those with visual impairments?
  • Is the language accessible to readers outside your immediate field?

8. Proofreading

  • Have you meticulously proofread your legends for spelling and grammatical errors?
  • Has someone else reviewed your legends to catch any issues you might have missed?

9. Multimedia Elements (If Applicable)

  • If your journal allows for multimedia elements, have you included or linked to any that could enhance your figure’s explanation?

10. Final Review

  • Have you reviewed each legend in the context of its figure to ensure they work well together?
  • Are you confident that your legends contribute to the overall narrative and impact of your research?

By thoroughly addressing each item on this checklist, you can be confident that your figure legends will effectively communicate your data and support your manuscript. This attention to detail can significantly enhance the readability and impact of your research, making a strong case for your findings.

With your legends polished and ready, you’re well-prepared to submit your manuscript, knowing that your figures and their accompanying texts are contributing positively to the clarity and engagement of your research.


What is a figure legend?

A figure legend is a brief description accompanying a figure in a scientific manuscript. It explains the figure’s content, providing context and clarifying any symbols, lines, or colors used, making the data understandable without reference to the text.

How detailed should a figure legend be?

A figure legend should be detailed enough to allow the figure to be understood independently of the main text. It should include essential information like the figure’s purpose, the meaning of various elements, and any relevant methodology or statistical data. However, it should also be concise, avoiding unnecessary detail that can clutter or confuse the message.

Can I use technical language in a figure legend?

Yes, you can use technical language in a figure legend, but it should be appropriate for your audience and essential for clarity. Always define technical terms and abbreviations the first time they are used. Consider the journal’s audience and aim for a balance between precision and accessibility.

How can I ensure my figure legend is clear and concise?

To ensure clarity and conciseness, start with a straightforward title, then describe what the figure shows and any relevant methods or results. Use simple language, avoiding unnecessary jargon. Focus on essential details, and revise to remove redundant or non-critical information.

What are common pitfalls in writing figure legends?

Common pitfalls include overloading the legend with information, using too much jargon, lack of context, inconsistencies between the figure and legend, ignoring journal guidelines, and neglecting proofreading. Avoid these by focusing on clarity, accuracy, and adherence to guidelines.

How do figure legends impact the peer review process?

Clear and informative figure legends can facilitate a smooth peer review process by enhancing comprehension and demonstrating attention to detail. They help reviewers understand the figure’s relevance and methodology, potentially reducing queries and speeding up the review process.

Are there any special considerations for formatting figure legends?

Yes, adhere to the specific formatting guidelines provided by the journal, such as font size, style, and legend length. Ensure consistency in formatting and style across all legends in your manuscript for a professional appearance. Consider accessibility, using clear fonts and avoiding color coding that might not be distinguishable by all readers.


Crafting the perfect figure legend is an art that significantly impacts the clarity, engagement, and overall success of scientific manuscripts. At San Francisco Edit, we specialize in scientific manuscript editing, offering our expertise to ensure your research is presented at its best. Our focus on clear, concise, and informative figure legends is what sets us apart and makes us the ideal partner for academics and scientists aiming for publication success.

Why Choose San Francisco Edit?

  • Expertise in Science and Academia: Our specialized knowledge in these fields allows us to understand the nuances of your research and how best to present it.
  • Clarity and Precision: We ensure that your figure legends are both clear to a broad audience and precise, meeting the high standards of academic publishing.
  • Tailored to Journal Requirements: Our editing services include tailoring your manuscript and figure legends to meet specific journal guidelines, increasing the likelihood of acceptance.
  • Enhanced Communication: By refining the clarity and impact of your figure legends, we help communicate your findings more effectively, facilitating a smoother peer review process.
  • Attention to Detail: Our meticulous approach covers everything from the correct use of technical language to the final proofreading, ensuring your legends are error-free and perfectly formatted.

At San Francisco Edit, we understand the importance of every aspect of your manuscript, down to the fine details of your figure legends. Our goal is to enhance the presentation and communication of your research, making your figures not just seen but understood and appreciated.

Choose San Francisco Edit for your scientific manuscript editing needs, and take the first step towards publication success. Contact us today to see how we can help your research stand out.

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Join 90,000+ Scientist Who Get Useful Tips For Writing Better Manuscripts

Don't miss out on future newsletters.
Sign up now.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.