Accessibility Tools

Figure Guidelines

Acquisitions Guidelines on Figures

Why does my editor care about the number of images in my book?

1. Accessibility
As of 2021, any image we include in the book will require “alt text” for use in ebooks and assistive technology for readers who are blind or have low vision. While we work with authors to make alt text as useful as possible, it’s important to remember that the more images you include, the more your book will have to be mediated through alt text for many of your potential readers. The cost of images (discussed below) can also lead to accessibility issues.

2. Readability
As someone with a lot of experience interacting with books, you have probably encountered images that interrupted the flow of text, required you to flip pages back and forth, or otherwise made the book unnecessarily confusing. Getting text and images to interact seamlessly is a significant design challenge, and there’s not always a good solution. Further, once images are converted to black and white (as they typically are) and printed at the resolution and size necessary to get them into a typical academic book format, they may be too grainy or difficult to decipher.

3. Argumentation
Scholarship is of paramount importance in an academic book, and scholarly authors must be intentional and judicious about why they are including images and how those images serve the aims of the book.

4. Cost
Having many images can significantly increase the printing costs of a book,especially if they are in color and/or demand a different type of paper, etc. Our figures are typically printed in black and white, unless there are special considerations made in advance. As a mission-driven press, we endeavor to make our books affordable and accessible to students, contingent faculty, and general readers–not just libraries and financially secure faculty. Being intentional about image choices is one way for us to control the printing costs for our books and keep the price point low for our readers. It’s also important to know that permission costs are the author’s responsibility, which means there may be costs on your end to consider as well.

How many images can or should I include?

There is no single answer here, as each book has its own needs based on content and scholarly discipline. As a general rule, we encourage you to keep the image count as low as possible. For most books, this means figures should be kept at 25 or fewer. What’s most important to us is the specific vision of each book we publish, and we understand that some books are significantly more visual in nature and require a more extensive collection of illustrations. We encourage you to consider the questions below and talk with your editor about how you might use images in your manuscript, what these images can contribute to the book’s overall goals, and how many would be appropriate for your particular project.

When should I use images?

In a typical scholarly book, we encourage our authors to think of images as primary sources or evidence. You could ask whether the inclusion of an image significantly strengthens the argument(s) in a particular passage, or the book as a whole. Does the image offer context that would be difficult to explain only with words? Does the text engage with the image (e.g., close reading)? Or is the image simply something “extra” that could be accessed elsewhere and/or doesn’t advance the discussion? If the image isn’t serving the argument of your book, the solution might be to amend or expand the text, rather than remove the image. You can talk with your editor about what makes the most sense given your particular field(s) and methodology. Regardless of the conventions of your discipline, it’s always a best practice to be intentional about every image you include.

University Press of Colorado University of Alaska Press Utah State University Press University of Wyoming Press