01.03.2012

Printable pictures, drawings and diagrams

Different options

Basis for creating graphics:

  • Photos or similar raster graphics
  • Drawings and diagrams in vector format
  • Whether the graphics are in raster or vector format it is recommended that the originals are stored until publishing
  • If conversion is required:
    • Vectors to raster: bitmap, at least 600dpi or recommended 1200dpi and saved as .tiff (or .bmp)
    • Raster to vector: In-built function of vector graphics software (Corel, Illustrator, Canvas, Inkscape) or software dedicated to this (CorelTrace, Streamline, AutoTrace)
    • Other graphics when converting to raster, at least 300dpi
  • Vector graphics in emf format works when importing to Word
  • Refrain from using the smallest width possible with vector strokes. Most prints require the width of the stroke to be at least 0.25 pt.

 

 

You can create drawings and diagrams with following software, for example:

  • MS Office: PowerPoint (the same tools are included in Word, but they are less flexible). You can import drawings made with PowerPoint to Word (either as a drawing or a picture). You can create diagrams and tables with Excel.
  • Free software: Inkscape: open source vector graphics software with commercial equivalents Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW and AcdSee Canvas. You can create drawings and diagrams with Inkscape.
  • Commercial Software: Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW, AcdSee Canvas

 

Software suitable for creating and editing raster graphics:

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Corel Photopaint
  • GIMP (free)
  • Paint.NET (free)

 

Options for pasting and their limits and differences in MS Office software
Paste from clipboard or import by selecting Picture from Insert tab

  • Pros:
    Paste from clipboard
    • Easy and fast to paste
    • Small file size
    • Drawings and diagrams can be edited, if needed, with other software
    Insert > Picture
    • If using gif or png (on-screen) or tiff, emf, eps and pdf (printing) the drawing corresponds the original perfectly
  • Cons:
    Paste from clipboard
    • Pictures in raster format will be very inaccurate
    Insert > Picture
    • Pictures inserted can no longer be edited
    • When using as pictures, the file size will increase dramatically
    • Drawings in gif or png format easily become muddy when printing - especially if you are required to scale the pictures. This can be circumvented by setting the dimensions and resolution of the picture so resizing is not required and saving the file as either tiff or eps)

The most sensible and versatile way to insert pictures is either by importing the graphics in format accepted by the software or by printing the graphics to pdf or eps format. When printing the graphics to pdf or eps vector data remains editable and can be edited with Inkscape, Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw. See Exporting charts from Excel to publishing software.

 

Recommended file formats:

  • .pdf where the resolution is set to as precise as possible when it contains raster data. Can contain vector data as well. When used in printing, cmyk needs to be considered if pictures are coloured.
  • .eps (Encapsulated PostScript) - file format allows both vector and bitmap graphics. This file format is especially used in printing. File size in .eps files is quite large.
  • .tiff for raster graphics - uses only lossless packaging, supports cmyk and is preferable for printing.
  • .emf has been noticed to work with Word when importing vector graphics.