NORDP Conference Concurrent Session on Figure Editing

May 21, 2018. R.T. Thomason, Ph.D., Figure Editor

Last week I attended a conference, the National Organization for Research Development Professionals (NORDP) in Arlington, Virginia. This meeting is an annual meeting and provides the chance for all research development professionals to get together to network, exchange ideas and best practices, and learn new techniques and tips and tricks that ultimately go toward being a strong research development professional. I love this meeting because the collaboration and positive vibes are amazing and secondly, I always learn so much.


One of the concurrent sessions was “Proposals like its 2019: Writing and Illustrating Grant Proposals for the Information Age” and was led by two people who work in the Research Development office at Arizona State University and one person from Michigan Technological University. The presenters were stellar – they really knew their stuff and provided an hour’s worth of incredibly useful information and advice. Of course I was totally nerding out because it was a presentation FOCUSED ON FIGURE EDITING! (This has never happened to me).


What was most useful about this session was that one of the presenters from Arizona State was an actual graphic designer/figure editor that they had in house. He presented a few slides where he gave some tips and tricks on utilizing PowerPoint to put together sleek, clear figures for grants or papers. I was incredibly impressed by his skill and actually picked up some new techniques for myself. I definitely encourage you to check out the website where this graphic designer works:


The main thing I took away (which will help you authors) is that you just need to have your central idea then you can design your figure around that. Start with a rough draft. Then figure out how you can simplify. Use the same fonts, general design and color schemes. This makes it easier on your reader’s eyes. Also, think outside of the box (literally, you don’t have to always use boxes for flow or organizational charts).