[Notes] How to Write a Good Scientific Paper: Figures, Part 2

September 16, 2019

Source
Source 2

Assuming that the final graph will fit within a single column in a two-column-per-page format.
Examples use Matplotlib

  • Set the chart area size to be 5 in. tall by 6.75 in. wide.
    Use 4:3 as default or adjust if the data suggests a better shape.

    fig, ax1 = plt.subplots(figsize=(6.75, 5))
    
  • Chart font size to be 14 pt (7pt after shrinking 50%).

    plt.rcParams['font.size'] = 14
    plt.rcParams['font.size'] = 12 # works too
    
  • Remove legend if not needed (put labels inside the graph if they fit rathe than using a legend).
    if using a legend, try to place it within the plot area.
  • Remove all gridlines.

    plt.rcParams["axes.grid"] = False
    
  • Change axes line to black and 1pt thick.

    plt.rcParams['axes.edgecolor'] = 'black'
    plt.rcParams['axes.linewidth'] = 1
    plt.rcParams['axes.linewidth'] = 0.5 # works too
    
  • Change major tick to "cross" and minor tick to "outside".
  • Format the chart area to to have no border.
  • Format the plot area to have a solid black border, 1pt thick and no fill.
  • Set the "axis crosses" point so that the two axes meet at the lower left corner.
  • Adjust the axes label numbers so that they have the proper number of decimal points.
  • If necessary, adjust the axes min and max values.
  • Add axis titles, 18pt (less if title is too long), no bold, use a rotated vertical title.
  • Data series should have a preferred color and symbol or line type/style for maximum readability.
  • No title.