SPIE Press book manuscript guidelines

Preparing a book manuscript for SPIE Press

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.

As stated in the publication agreements made with SPIE Press, authors are responsible for obtaining all necessary reproduction permissions or licenses from publishers. Some publishers require several weeks to process permissions requests, and some requests involve a payment, so publisher permissions should be obtained early, at the time of writing and selecting figures, to avoid potential delays or changes to the book farther along in the process.

  • Permission is required for the reuse of all copyrighted figures and tables, whether reprinted as in the original publication, or adapted by the author for the SPIE Press book.

Many publishers grant reprint permission via the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC). The permissions portal is generally found on the publisher’s abstract webpage of the article, chapter, or book containing the figure or table of interest. With the abstract webpage open, look for the permissions link, which is often a button that reads © or Permissions or Get Rights and Content or Copyright or Permissions and ReprintsTools, etc. An author account will need to be set up in the CCC.

  • Publishers that do not use the CCC to process permissions will state their permissions instructions on their copyright and/or permissions webpage/s. Authors need to locate and follow the specific instructions provided by these publishers and may contact their SPIE editor if the instructions are not readily found for a particular publisher or source.
  • SPIE Press authors do not need to obtain permission to reprint or adapt figures or tables from SPIE publications but do need to cite the SPIE source.
  • In the case where a publisher also requires that the original author be notified, authors must also contact at least one author (usually the lead author) of the original material.
  • The reprinted material must cite the original source in the figure caption, in compliance with the wording of the publisher’s permission letter; a blanket statement in the preface is not sufficient.
  • If an author intends to reuse previously published material they authored themselves, and the publisher did not specifically relinquish copyright, then permission is needed from the publisher. The original publication agreement or transfer of copyright signed by the author and the original publisher will indicate the author’s rights and requirements for reusing an author’s own copyrighted material.
  • Figures that have been completely redrawn for the SPIE book often do not require publisher permission; however, some publishers do require permission in this case. The publisher's website should address this; if not, contact the publisher to confirm. 

When an author submits a manuscript to SPIE Press for technical review, it is expected that the source for every figure that was not created for this manuscript is included in the Reference lists at the end of the chapters, and a citation is added to each caption of the “borrowed” or adapted figure.

  • This expectation applies to figures from the authors’ own previously published works.
  • Although figures under SPIE copyright do not need permission obtained for reprinting/adapting, the SPIE sources of those figures do need to be cited in the captions and included as complete references at the end of the chapters.

Send copies of all the permissions received to your SPIE staff editor.



o   As you place figures in your manuscript, keep track of them—as you would text references—with full citation information.

o   Any material taken from another source is subject to the laws of the country in which the material was published and should be considered copyrighted; contact the publisher for more information.

o   Any material taken from a U.S. military or government publication is considered to be in the public domain (not copyrighted), but you still must credit the original source of the material. Contact the publishing agency for citation verification, if necessary.

o   Internet images:

  • Do not take images from a website if possible; they usually have a low resolution that does not reproduce well in print. If a web image must be used, the image must have a minimum resolution of 300 dpi. Copyright permissions are required of Internet images, so you must give the complete citation and obtain the copyright owner’s permission.
  • Images from a public domain website (such as NASA or other U.S. government/military site) may be used if they are cited correctly and have a high resolution.

Copyrighted data used for creating new figures, tables, or graphs

Q. If an author creates a table, graph, or figure based on someone else's data, does the author need to get permission to publish the new table, graph, or figure? (Is this considered a "derivative" work according to copyright law?)

A. Yes. It is someone's else's data; the mere fact of retyping or redrawing it doesn't change that. You could always excerpt or summarize the data and attribute the source without getting permission. The degree of completeness may be a factor.


Q. If an author recreates a table, graph, or figure based on someone else's table, graph, or figure, but the general concept it represents has also been presented in a number of different sources, could this be considered plagiarism?

A. It depends, but as long as the data is specific to someone else's research, permission is necessary. You could always excerpt or summarize the data and attribute the source without getting permission. The degree of completeness may be a factor.


  • 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.

  • 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 website; 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 degrades 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.

  • 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. Am3(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).