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Author Guidelines

THE BEST ART PROGRAMS are developed simultaneously with the text. If you integrate visual with verbal thinking as you prepare your first draft (and your second and third), and if you key the text as you go to rough sketches or photocopies of appropriate illustrations or photographs, you will be on the way to creating an art program that effectively reinforces the points in your text. Coming up with ideas for illustrations while you are writing each chapter is always easier and less time consuming than trying to put together an art program after your writing is done. An early start also gives us every chance to do full justice to the art program for your book.

Your sponsoring editor will help you to assess the expectations of prospective users and to decide on the number and kind of illustrations. A good way to start is by critically analyzing the books with which yours will compete. We will then work out with you a plan for the illustration requirements of your book.

When planning the illustration and photo program for a text, our goal is to represent the diversity of our customers. Artists and photo researchers work to show a mix of people involved in activities and topics discussed in the text. The male/female ratio for art should be 50/50 and the goal for minority representation is between 25% and 30%.


Art programs in college textbooks serve three purposes: instructional, psychological, and aesthetic. Of course, the artwork must teach something. At the same time, by providing visual interest and variety, it sparks or rekindles attention. And when it is relevant, substantive, and well designed, it adds immeasurably to the pleasing appearance of your book. Do not ignore the visual sophistication--or needs--of contemporary audiences, for whom pictures are often more effective than words.

No matter what an art program consists of, it is an extremely expensive item, requiring planning, care, and restraint. Check out with us any new idea you may have about art as soon as it occurs to you. We can react quickly to its feasibility and desirability and perhaps save you time.

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At first, you should think about your art in terms of these three categories:

New art: Art that is to be created from scratch. This category includes not only newly specified art but existing art that needs so many changes that it will have to be completely redone.

Modified art: Art that appeared in a previous edition and now needs one or two minor changes.

Pickup art: Art that appeared in a previous edition and can be used again--picked up--with no changes.

All the art for your book will fit into one of those categories, depending on whether you are writing a new book or updating an existing text.

Most line art and other illustrations for college textbooks are now rendered electronically on a computer, although in some instances figures are still rendered by artists using ink or paint. The following list shows how art is further broken down into subcategories.

Line art: Art made up of lines, boxes, and screens: bar and line graphs, scatter plots, plotted math equations, flow charts, supply and demand graphs, etc.

Real-life illustrations: Drawings of physical objects, scenes, people, etc.

Medical illustrations: Anatomical and botanical drawings.

Opener graphics: Line art and other illustrations for use specifically in chapter openers.

Maps: Historical maps, political maps, demographic maps, foreign language maps, etc.

Realia: Newspaper and magazine ads, letterheads, etc., taken from various media or specifically created for use in exercises (most often in foreign language texts).

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Line Art and Other Illustrations


We require from you art manuscript for each piece of art to be rendered by an artist. Make sure that your original sketches are clear and detailed so that we can direct the artist in an accurate finished rendering of your ideas and data.

Keep the art manuscript separate from the text manuscript. Figure references in the text manuscript show us placement. If representations of art also appear in the text manuscript, circle them to show that they should not be typeset as part of the text.

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Art manuscript

Art manuscript should be prepared clearly and accurately on 8.5-by-11-inch paper. If you borrow or adapt linework from another source, mount tearsheet copy--or an easily readable photocopy--on an 8.5-by-11-inch sheet. Plot graphs on proper graph paper, or if possible, use a plotting program. For all quantitative drawings, note separately the precise numerical values that are to be plotted.

Please include on or with each sheet of art manuscript the title of the figure and a concise statement of precisely what the drawing represents and what it should communicate. If you submit complex material from another source for adaptation, tell us what elements you wish to use, and mark the reference material clearly; also, identify the book, magazine, or newspaper article in which you found the material. If you provide multiple reference figures for one illustration, show clearly what is important in each figure and how the various parts should come together. (See Sample Art Specs.)

For each piece of art, the art manuscript should include the following information:

  • Your book title.

  • Manuscript page reference.

  • Source information if the art appears in another Houghton Mifflin book or in a work published elsewhere (book title, edition, page, etc.).

  • A sketch, including labels, equations to be plotted, data for plotting points or curves, a caption, etc. If your book will be in two or four colors, indicate how color should be used in the art.

  • Any other considerations that may be important: What applications, if any, should the art describe? What do you want the art to say in relation to the text? What is the point of the art?

  • A list of all books in which the art will appear in the same copyright year (other books in series, splits, custom versions, ancillaries, etc.).

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Write legibly or type an identification of every line and point that is to be labeled. Capitalize the first letter of each label and all proper nouns.

If your artistic talent leaves something to be desired, make your intention clear by adding encircled explanations in a color distinct from that used for art to be drawn. If your chicken looks something like a duck, say chicken. If your square looks somewhat rectangular, say square. If you draw a stick figure but want to represent a tired 45-year-old college professor, tell us clearly and add realistic.

Capital letters are indicated by three underscores; lowercase letters, by a diagonal slash through a letter; italics, by underlining. Make the notation, spelling, and styling agree with what you have done in your text, and be sure that all handwritten letters or symbols are clear and unambiguous. And, of course, be sure that a figure reference exists in the text for each piece of art and that a piece of art exists for every text reference.

Sample Art Spec 1 | Sample Art Spec 2 | Sample Art Spec 3

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Sources and permissions

When you borrow visual material or data for your figures, the same rules that govern use of written material apply. Very probably you will have to get permission to use or adapt the figure. At the least, you must acknowledge the source.

We will advise you about the proper forms of citation; but from the beginning, we need complete and accurate data--author, publication title and date, publisher, page reference, and copyright holder--about the primary source. If an adaptation has already occurred in a secondary source, note that bibliographic data too. Put this information directly on the sheet that contains the art copy you submit, not in the caption manuscript.

Art clearances differ somewhat from text permissions, and so do the letters of request. We will provide you with a form letter or at least the proper information to include in yours. Print charges or permissions fees are usually due at a later date, and we will guide you in such matters. Please refer to the section on "Copyrights and Permissions" for more details.

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Your own photographs

If you want to use your own photographs in your text, please submit high-contrast matte or glossy black-and-white prints for black-and-white photographic images. Slides and color prints are acceptable for four-color texts. Please submit your originals to us for a quality check. We will quickly tell you whether the material will reproduce well. Do not send negatives.

Four-color images do not always convert successfully to black and white. If your book uses only black and white, you should rely on black-and-white images.

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Researched photographs

If you want to use photographs but don't know exactly which ones, do some looking and thinking and then prepare a list of photo ideas and submit it with your first manuscript draft. We will work with you to develop your ideas into photo specifications (specs). Our goal is to create a final photo spec list that a photo researcher can use to find photographs for your text. Copies of the researched photos will be sent to you for your approval and so that you can write photo captions when the photo selection is complete.

If you have specific ideas about any photographs, give us a detailed photo spec with a careful description of the subject matter or, better yet, send along with your list clear photocopies of pictorial subjects that resemble the material you have in mind. Whether you submit a photocopy or a general idea for a picture, please attach a statement of the point you intend to make. You should be able to answer the question "Why am I using this picture at this point?" Are you discussing a particular Rubens nude as a painting, or are you simply illustrating plumpness, of which the Rubens is a particularly good example? This type of information gives the photo researcher leeway to find suitable alternatives if your original suggestion is unavailable or could be improved.

By the same token, please tell us what elements or subjects would make a picture unsuitable or incorrect. To save time and expense later, tell us clearly what you do want and what you don't want. (See Sample Photo Specs Page.)

For each photo spec, provide the following information:

  • Your book title.

  • Manuscript page reference.

  • Source information if the photo appears in another Houghton Mifflin book or in a work published elsewhere (book title, edition, page, etc.).

  • Subject of photo--what you want the photo to show. Give specifics as needed.

  • Any other considerations that may be important: What applications, if any, should the photo describe? What do you want the photo to say in relation to the text? What is the point of the photo?

  • Back-up photo ideas, if possible.

  • A list of all books in which the photo will appear in the same copyright year (other books in series, splits, custom versions, ancillaries, etc.).

When you have definite choices, we will do our best to accommodate you. But we urge you to keep an open mind. Our photo research specialists have research experience in all fields and may be able to suggest better alternatives, particularly when you want to illustrate an idea or a mood. But if only a certain picture will do and you know just what and where it is, go ahead and get it, together with permission for its use. We do, however, reserve the right to accept or reject any photograph on the grounds of its quality as reproduction copy and the cost of permission.

Sample Photo Specs Page

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Sources and permissions

A photograph almost always belongs to someone, and you must find out who and whether that person will allow you to use his or her property for your purposes. We ask that you get permission for any pictorial material that you know you will use. Check with us, however, about permission costs, rights, distribution, and publication data before you make firm arrangements.

Whether you submit to us an idea, a photocopy of a photograph, or the photograph itself, you must include on or with it complete information about the copyright holder and the original source (see "Sources and permissions" for line art). This data helps us in photo research, and it becomes the basis for the credit line that appears in the book. We handle the final formulation of the credits, but we cannot proceed without basic and correct source information from you.

In general, fees for picture use run much higher than do fees for line art and other illustrations. Always be on the lookout for hidden fees--monthly rental charges, for example, or specified return dates that if ignored may result in a surcharge. Do not get pictures that you don't need, and do not get pictures until you need them.

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Model releases

If you use a picture in which there are people who would be identifiable by someone who knows them, you must obtain written model releases or have written proof that such releases exist. Picture agency photos usually come with such releases. Be extremely careful, however, especially if the situation shown could reflect unfavorably on the person shown. Annoying paperwork now is always preferable to serious trouble later.

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Some cautions

Handle glossy prints carefully. Do not use paper clips (which scratch) or rubber bands (which react chemically and may bend the photos).

Do not write with a pen or pencil on the back of the print, or on an overlay that is in direct contact with the face, because pressure marks will show up on the surface. You may affix a prewritten adhesive label to the back for identification or write with a soft grease pencil or crayon--not a felt-tip pen.

With grease pencil or crayon, mark prints TOP--at the top, naturally, and above the image area.

Do not mount photographs.

These cautions also apply to overlays.

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Artwork, Photos, and Manuscript


For easy identification, number photographs and line art and other illustrations in the order of their appearance in the book. If there are only a few, number them consecutively throughout. In most cases, you will want to double-number the figures consecutively within each chapter--for example, Figure 8.1, Figure 8.2, and so on; then Figure 9.1 and Figure 9.2.

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Changes in numbering

As you work on successive drafts of the manuscript, pieces of art will come, go, and change place. The numbering system, therefore, may get disrupted. You may need to renumber your figures from draft to draft, making sure your numbers appear on the right piece of art and in the right text reference. Simply try to avoid confusion.

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Text references

Figures should be referred to in the text by number, not by position (i.e., not by "above" or "below"). The final manuscript must indicate by text references or circled marginal notations the exact position of each figure.

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Captions should be submitted separately. Number the captions to correspond with figure number, and make sure that type style and spelling match that used in the text.

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A Last Word

Supply all information about original sources, with page numbers, of all materials that you submit as hard copy, as picture suggestions, or as data for charts and graphs. Permission is needed for use of materials covered by copyright, whether reproduced, redrawn, or adapted, and suitable acknowledgments must be made for all permissions and courtesies.

The cautions about reuse of textual material in subsequent editions (see "Renegotiating Permissions") also apply to all artwork.

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