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SPIE Press Book Manuscript Guidelines

Preparing a Book Manuscript

You aren't expected to turn in a print-ready manuscript.  Formatting will be done as part of the production process.  However, we do have guidelines that will expedite the process and create a higher-quality book. 


Prior to a book's publication, you must obtain any necessary permissions for the reprinting or adapting of figures, text, or other derived material from both the original publisher and at least one author of each original work. We recommend that you keep track of the origin of all copyrighted material WHILE you are writing your manuscript, and that you begin seeking permissions early in the process. Use the documents below to help you gain permisison from authors and publishers to reproduce tables and figures:

Information on how to obtain permission to reproduce copyrighted material (PDF)

Sample letters (in .doc format) to request permission from: authors |publishers 

General Manuscript Format

  • Prepare the manuscript using Microsoft Word.
  • Number all section headings using the chapter number as the first digit. For example, section headings in Chapter 3 should be numbered 3.1, 3.2, etc.; subheads 3.1.1, 3.1.2, etc.; sub-subheads,, etc. Do not use a period after the final digit.
  • Number figures, tables, and equations this way: Fig. 3.1, Fig. 3.2, Eq. (3.1), Eq. (3.2), Table 3.1, Table 3.2. Spell out these abbreviations when they begin a sentence.
  • Do not use footnotes.

Figure Preparation

  • Place figures in the manuscript chapter following their callouts where they are referred to in the text.  Please also send them as separate figure files in their native file formats; the files should be named after their corresponding figure numbers.
  • Do not copy figures from a Web site; the resolution of Web figures is far too low for print reproduction, and copyright ownership can be difficult to determine.
  • Consider the quality of every figure before using it in your manuscript: minimum 300 dpi resolution; legible letters and numbers; consistent sizes and styles of letters, numbers, line thickness, etc. We CANNOT improve a poor-quality figure. When creating line art, it should be vector format. Adobe Illustrator is an excellent program for this; Inkscape is an accessible and open-source alternative. Do not use Microsoft Powerpoint for anything other than line drawings, as it degrages image quality.
  • Variables used in a figure should be italicized; Greek symbols should not be italicized.
  • The standard column width is 5 inches for Tutorial Texts and 4.5 inches for Press Monographs - please provide images that fit this dimension to avoid automatic downsizing that may make labels illegible. 
  • We do not print images in color as a general rule; however, if you feel color is necessary for an image please explain why, and note how many images you expect to be in color.
  • Scan all black-and-white halftones at a minimum of 300 dpi.
  • Scan all line art at 1200 dpi.

Equations and Mathematical Notation

  • We suggest the use of MathType or Word's native equation editor to typeset equations.
  • Label all equations as detailed above and enclose the number in parentheses.
  • Set only variables in italic.
  • Be consistent in your treatment of mathematical terms in both the text and in equations.


  • Provide full citations in references, including authors' names, article title, page range, and date and place of publication.
  • Number the first citation of a reference in the text based on its sequential order in the manuscript; repeat the original reference number for later citations of the same reference. Do not use Word's reference linking feature. 
  • Denote references with a superscript number set outside all punctuation except the em dash.
  • Create a list of references at the end of each chapter. 
  • Be thorough and consistent! These examples show all the required elements:

Journal and conference papers:
1. M. Clearspeak, "How to prepare a manuscript for publication," Proc. SPIE 311, 315-320 (1996).
2. M. Black and D. White, "Capitalize only the first word of a paper title," J. Edit. Soc. Am. 3(2), 3-5 (1995).

3. C. Green, Capitalize Each Word in a Book Title, 2nd Ed., Nitpick Press, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1996).

Chapter in an edited book:
4. D. Blue, "Chapter titles should be in sentence case," in The Fundamentals of Correct Copyediting, J.D. Salinger, Ed, SPIE Press, Bellingham, Washington, 493-582 (1995).