Panel Figures

December 7, 2017

R.T. Thomason, Ph.D., Figure Editor

This week on It Figures with Dr. Bec… we will be discussing a different type of formatted figure called a panel figure. We have been spending the past few blogs discussing graphs and while graphs are incredibly important for presenting your quantitative data, you may have been getting a little bored hearing about that. So, I decided to switch gears a little and discuss one of my favorite types of figures… panels! I know that sounds incredibly nerdy and almost downright silly, but I just love panel figures!


You may ask, what is a panel figure? A panel figure is a compilation of images, graphs or schematics put together to display data to the audience usually in a grid format. A lot of times, a panel can give you an incredible amount of data. These can range from single panels to four squares to many (I’ve seen a whole page full of images – about sixty images)!


Three quick steps when making your panel figure:

  1. Manipulate your images. Fine-tune an image in Photoshop (for a later blog), create a graph in Graphpad Prism or ImageJ/Fiji, or draw your schematic in Adobe Illustrator or PowerPoint (or your favorite design software).
  2. Place image/graph in a design program. My favorite program is Adobe Illustrator because of the ease of the alignment and precise orientation you can utilize in this program.
  3. Insert figure in manuscript, presentation or poster. Once the figure is created, you can easily use it, edit and share it when needed.


Next week on It Figures… we will dive into the details of editing and adding more detail within panel figures. Many people leave these details off their figures and that is what causes confusion and frustration to the reader. Some simple labeling, arrows, and color coding can go a long way.