Manuscript Tips: Reusing a Previously Published Image

The following is the next installment in a series on writing for publication from Kris Greiner, editor in the Design Center. Explore her suite of editing services.

Once you have secured permission to reuse a copyrighted image, chances are you’ll need to find a high-resolution copy for the intended publisher to use in your manuscript. So what qualifies as high resolution?

A quick lesson in “dpi” (dots per inch) and “ppi” (pixels per inch). In brief, DPI describes the number of dots of ink used per linear inch in printed images. PPI primarily refers to screen image measurements. (There’s more, but it gets complicated.)

To focus on finding or creating an image to be submitted with a manuscript, we’ll stick to discussing print quality images.

First, if you find an image online, it will not be acceptable to copy or download and submit with your manuscript as-is – the resolution will be too low, at 72 dpi. The minimum dpi required for printing is generally 300 dpi, and the higher the resolution the better. Screen images don’t need to be larger because of the way computer screens display them.

However, when that same 72 dpi image is printed, a printer will only apply 72 dpi of ink, so the image will appear unfocused.

So how do you get a high-resolution copy of the image you found in a journal, book chapter, or online resource? Many journals will offer original or high-resolution download of images, graphs, and tables. Look for a link to download the image at full-size or as a TIFF or other file type. Different publishers will have different links.

If a high-resolution copy of an image cannot be downloaded, you may have to contact the journal or the author, and this may involve another fee. If all of these efforts fail, you’ll need to have an image recreated for you or delete it from your work.

The Design Center can create just about any image or illustration for print or presentation use. Information about graphics and illustration services can be found here.

If you need help securing a high-resolution copy of an image, or have further questions on how to find what you need, please contact me at

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