Skip to content

When you choose to publish with PLOS, your research makes an impact. Make your work accessible to all, without restrictions, and accelerate scientific discovery with options like preprints and published peer review that make your work more Open.

PLOS BLOGS The Official PLOS Blog

Formatting Your Article for Submission: Updated figures, tables, new reference style and LaTex template

March 1, 2017 Editor’s Note: The Preflight Analysis and Conversion Engine (PACE) tool for figures is fully up and available for author’s use. As you review and prepare your figures for submission, PACE can help you achieve high publication quality figures by assessing whether your figures meet most of our technical requirements. PACE can also convert figures to TIFF format and rename figures to meet PLOS naming conventions. You should still review your figures after PACE assessment to ensure that they adhere to all figure requirements and that they are not blurry or difficult to read.
To use PACE, first register as a user then follow the instructions on the site for assessing and converting your figure files. You can access the tool from or by clicking on the PACE link on our Figures Guidelines pages. If you have general questions about figures, please email Note that although our staff can offer guidance and advice, PLOS does not provide graphics services. Preparation and final quality of figures is the responsibility of the author.


PLOS has recently updated our formatting requirements for submitted manuscripts across all seven of our journals. These changes allow us to streamline some of our production work, reducing the overall time to publication for the average article.

As an author, you can help your manuscript move quickly and smoothly through our editorial and production process by properly formatting your submission. Where these guidelines are not followed, the manuscript may be returned to you before we can proceed with an accept decision, and this will slow the time to publication.

Read below about some of the key changes, or use our author guidelines located at the end of this post for a full picture of how to submit and prepare your submission.

Figure Updates

PLOS has updated some of our figure requirements, most notably regarding naming conventions for citations, captions and files themselves. Below is a quick snapshot of these changes, but read our Figure Guidelines for our full requirements:

  • Refer to your figure in-text citations as “Fig. #”, for instance, “Fig. 1” or “Fig. 2”.
  • Ensure that your figure file names also match this formatting, as “Fig#.file extension”. For example, “Fig1.tif” or “Fig2.eps”.
  • Each figure should be single page.
  • Place your figure legends after the paragraph where the figure is first cited.

We are working with one of our vendors on a new tool that will allow authors to easily check their figures for compliance, and in some cases automatically format the figures themselves. The tool is in testing now, and we hope to make it available to authors as soon as possible.

New Reference Style

PLOS has adopted a standard reference style, NLM/ICMJE. Please ensure your reference list is properly formatted to this style guide. You can also download the PLOS reference style at EndNote.

Tables and Boxes

Tables and boxes should now be placed with their legends in the text of the manuscript, after the paragraph where the table is first cited. This will allow for faster processing as well as easier reading for our editors and reviewers. Please be sure your tables are cell-based in Word, or embedded from Excel.

Supporting Information Updates

Supporting Information in-text citations and captions should meet PLOS’ standard style, which is “S# Category”. Common categories include Appendix, Checklist, Dataset, Figure, File, Movie, Protocol, Supporting Information, Table, Text, Video.  For example, “S1 Appendix” or “S2 Table”

The file name should also match the format of the in-text citation and the caption, as “S#_Category.file extension”. For example “S1_Appendix.doc” or “S2_Table.xls”.

New LaTeX Template

In order to provide better services for authors writing in LaTeX, PLOS has revised our LaTeX template to allow for much greater flexibility in handling packages and macros. Please use this template when preparing your LaTeX submission. For further information on LaTeX submissions to PLOS journals, read through our guidelines. Where this template is not used, the manuscript may be returned to you before we can proceed with an accept decision, and this will slow the time to publication.

Our staff will be available to assist you as your manuscript moves through our review process, and if accepted, through our composition process. Thank you for your support of PLOS and open-access.

PLOS ONE Manuscript Guidelines

PLOS Medicine Manuscript Guidelines

PLOS Biology Manuscript Guidelines

PLOS Computational Biology Manuscript Guidelines

PLOS Genetics Manuscript Guidelines

PLOS Pathogens Manuscript Guidelines

PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases Manuscript Guidelines


  1. Can we submit large tables that must be viewed in landscape? If so, how do we insert them after the text? Thanks in advance.

  2. Yes, you can submit large tables. You do not need to turn the tables to landscape orientation or otherwise try to make the table appear within the manuscript margins if it does not fit on one page. For your submission, insert the table as you would for any smaller table, and let it run off the screen if it is wider than the page width. In Word, tables that run off of the manuscript page can be seen using Draft View. FYI, in the PDF version of the published article, very wide tables may be printed sideways (landscape orientation) and long tables may span more than one page.

    Additional information about how to format tables in your submission can be found on journal Tables instruction pages.

  3. It would be very useful if you add the Microsoft Word (DOC or DOCX) template instead of PDF for Plos One.

  4. Hello and thank you for your comment. The wide range of variability in content submitted necessitates our providing to authors flexibility with section headings and elements to include for all submissions. For this reason, we do not provide Word or other templates but rather PDFs of Formatting Guidelines for the main body and the title, author list, and affiliations that authors can turn to for guidance by following those links. If you still are unclear or have a specific question, please email

  5. Is it possible to use any text formats (e.g., Times New Roman, etc.)? Do the formatting needs to be the same for all sections? The submission guideline dictates the line spacing to be “Double”, it seems a litter wider.

  6. Hello and thank you for your inquiry. Although PLOS ONE provides a recommended reference style for submissions, the journal does not routinely revise references when authors submit manuscripts as this would unnecessarily delay publication. This results in a variety of reference styles both within and between articles.

  7. I am editing the manuscript with the latax template of Plos One.
    By default, it does not show heading numbering of each section.
    For example, 1. Introduction => Introduction ; 2. Related Work => Related Work.

    However, without such section index, I am confused about how to cite other sections like, “As presented in Sect 4.2, we found….”

  8. Hello and thank you for your inquiry.

    There is flexibility to modify the LaTeX template to use names, numbering or a combination of names/numbering as you indicate above, if that is desired. Authors may then cite sections by listing the name as created. Examples of citing named sections include: “In the Introduction…” or “In the Related Work…”. If this does not fully answer your question please email for additional assistance. Thank you.

  9. Hello, Sheryl P. Denker, thanks a lot for your reply!
    Yes, I know how to modify the Latex template to show the names/ numbering style.
    The reason I asked above is that I had mistakenly thought that only using the section title without an numbering index was a mandatory requirement of Plos One.
    Thank you for your reply!

  10. Hi,

    I am using sharedlatex and I am strangling with this step:

    2) Compile your manuscript using your .bib file (bibliography{references}) and the plos2015.bst style file. This process should output a .bbl file into the same folder as your manuscript.

    Do you know how can I proceed?



  11. A solution I found with overleaf (sharelatex doesn’t exist anymore)

    1. add plos2015.bst to same folder as your main file (main.tex)
    2. make sure “bibliographystyle{plos2015}” appears before “begin{document}”. This is already in the PLOS tex template
    3. add “bibliography{nameofbibfile}” to the tex document (I added this right before “begin{thebibliography}{10}”)
    4. compile
    5. click on button to the right of “recompile”
    6. click on to “other logs & files” in the bottom right corner
    7. click on “bbl file”
    8. open the bbl file (e.g. with tex)
    9. In the main file on overleaf, paste the contents of the bbl file under “begin{thebibliography}{10}”
    10. comment out “bibliography{nameofbibfile}” in the main file
    11. recompile

    Good luck!

  12. Hi
    I need help on how to upload figures with tif file format. I uploaded my figures in PACE to check it, and the figures meet the requirements. Now the question when I recompile my overleaf file the figures do not appear, only the titles are there. Please I was trying to understand how it suppose work but I could not figure it out, and the guidelines are so complicated.

  13. Hello,

    I faced some issues when compiling the manuscript with the LaTeX template of PLOS One (plos2015.bst). Since the “cite” package haven’t provide the \citeauthor command, so I used “natbib” instead. But it fail while the compilation. Do the PLOS One submission accept some in-text citation of authors?

    Thank you.

  14. Hi,
    I would like to know while using endnote, can I use Plos style for Plos pathogens while setting up refernces?
    Is it mandatory to have a PMID in the reference?

    1. The answer is yes to both. We will publish the references generally in the same way we are provided them by authors. If an author is using EndNote, we suggest that authors supply references in a PLOS style (we post a style file used for EndNote online) but authors are not required to provide references in this way. We do not require the PMID in a given reference, but when an author supplies a PMID, we can then include it in their article and build a clickable link to PubMed for the given reference.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Add your ORCID here. (e.g. 0000-0002-7299-680X)

Back to top