Image Permission And Preparation Guidelines

Download Guidelines


  • Authors are responsible for obtaining permission from the copyright holder to use copyrighted material in Gesta and for paying any associated fees.
  • Allow at least 4-6 weeks to receive each permission grant.
  • All permission grants must be submitted to the editors as soon as possible after the publication agreement is signed.
  • Permissions that are not submitted on time or that do not meet Gesta standards could delay publication of your article.
  • The minimum requirements are:
    • non-exclusive world distribution rights in English,
    • right to publish in both the print and electronic editions, and
    • right to deposit in electronic archives.
  • The preferred rights, in addition to the minimum rights, are:
    • non-exclusive world distribution rights in all languages, formats, and
    • media, and
    • right to reproduce in all reprints, editions, and derivatives, whether print or electronic.
  • Gesta cannot accept permission grants that:
  • restrict use to a specific period of time,
  • require payment of renewal fees, and
  • place restrictions on access to the material, especially in the electronic edition.
  • All figures will be reproduced exactly as transmitted, so authors must take special care to prepare high-quality files.
  • Authors are strongly encouraged to transmit all figure files electronically.
  • You will need to send scans of all permission forms to the editors.

Whom to ask for permission

In general, you need to seek permission from the copyright holder of the work. The copyright holder is the creator of the work, unless:

  • The creator has assigned the copyright to a third party, or
  • The work was created as a work made for hire, in which case copyright is owned by the employer, not the employee.

Long text excerpts may require permission from the copyright holder. Fair use permits you to quote within reason, but if you quote at length from a copyrighted text (including a modern copyrighted translation or edition of an old text), you should request permission from the publisher. For use of textual material, many publishers will require author approval as a condition of granting the permission, even if the author has assigned copyright to the publisher.

If you obtained permission to use copyrighted material in a previous article or other scholarly work, that permission does not automatically extend to further republication; unless otherwise stated in the permissions grant, you must obtain permission for each subsequent re-use.


Public domain

Works for which the copyright has expired are said to be in the public domain. The rules for when a work enters the public domain are complicated and vary from country to country. It is safe to assume that a work published or created in the U.S. before 1923 is in the public domain. For works created after 1923, a useful rule of thumb is the life of the author or artist, plus 70 years. It is your responsibility to verify the copyright status of any work you wish to reproduce in your article.

Visual art

Obtaining permission to use a work of visual art can be particularly complex. Your first step is to obtain an acceptable image of the work. (See the following sections on Art Sources and Image Preparation Guidelines for more details.) After obtaining the image, you may still need to request (separately) permission from the copyright holder of the artwork, the copyright holder of the image, and the owner of the artwork.

You may require permission from the artwork’s owner to reproduce  the work. Museums, archives, and other owners of artwork often place restrictions upon access to or use of the objects in their collection, in order to protect the works and to ensure that published images meet their quality standards. In most cases, you will need to obtain an image of the artwork from the museums, gallery, or archive in which the artwork is housed, either directly or through an image bank. Normally, you will be granted the use permission when you receive the image file. Sometimes the image holders will be willing to waive or reduce their fees and other conditions for scholarly use of their artworks, particularly if approached in a diplomatic way and if efforts are made to minimize any commercial impact the use may have on the work.

Once you have the image and an access or use permission (if required), you may still need to obtain a copyright permission from the copyright holder, often the artist or artist’s estate. It is important to underscore this distinction between a use permission and a copyright permission. The owner of a work cannot grant copyright permission unless authorized to do so by the copyright holder. Nor does copyright law allow an owner to grant (or withhold) copyright permission to reproduce a work that is in the public domain. If you wish to include in your article an artwork that is in the public domain, for example, and you can locate an image file that is acceptable for reproduction in the journal, you may require permission only from the holder of the image file,

Art photographed from a book published after 1923 must be cleared for permission. This includes diagrams, maps, and line drawings. The publisher of the book may not be the holder of rights to such images, but you can usually find “picture credits” that indicate the source of such images in the front or back of a book. If there is no credit page, then write to the permissions department of the publisher. 

Please read each permission grant carefully, keeping in mind that the Gesta requires permission to reproduce the artwork in both the print and electronic edition of the journal. Standard permission grants for artwork are very often restricted to print publication only.

Cover art, promotional use

Permission to use material in your article should not be assumed to encompass its use on the cover of the journal, on the journal’s website other than in the context of the article, or for any other promotional purposes. The editors will advise you if you need to obtain such additional permissions.

Art Sources

Art Resource ( is an excellent place to begin your search for reproductions. Their affiliate, Artists Rights Society (, can also help with copyright permissions. Another helpful resource for reproductions is Bridgeman Art Library ( VAGA (Visual Artists and Galleries Association) ( is another good source for copyright permissions. Other worthy online research tools are and


Obtaining and submitting permissions

Once you determine which works require permission, it is your responsibility to obtain the permission from the copyright holder. As the author, you are expected to make a reasonable effort to track down the copyright holder, but failing that, notify the editors as soon as possible.

Rights to request

In addition to requesting the rights described below, your permission request should:

  • identify the full copyrighted work (the original publication, not a subsequent reprint) and the specific portion or portions of the work you wish to use.
  • describe how the material will be used, being sure to explain that the use is scholarly. If you are requesting permission to alter or adapt the material in any way, provide details to the copyright holder and append to your requests a copy of how the material will appear, if possible.
  • provide as much information as you can about your article; the editors should be able to tell you in which volume your article will appear. Many museums will waive or reduce their fees if you tell them that the International Center of Medieval Art is a not-for-profit organization and that Gesta is a scholarly journal.
  • request the form of acknowledgement (credit line) that should be used.
  • ask for confirmation that the person granting permission is the copyright holder or is otherwise authorized to grant the permissions requested.

In your initial request, you should ask for the following rights:

  • non-exclusive world rights in perpetuity, in all languages, in all formats and media, and in all editions, reprints, and derivatives of the journal, whether print or electronic.
  • the right to deposit the work, as published in the journal and only as an integral part of the journal issue, in electronic archives selected by the Press for the purpose of preserving the scholarly record or to fulfill deposit requirements as may be mandated by laws now in place or hereinafter enacted.

Be aware that copyright holders may be reluctant to grant such broad-ranging rights. At an absolute minimum, Gesta requires the following rights:

  • non-exclusive world distribution rights in English.
  • right to publish in both the print and electronic editions.
  • archival rights as described above.

cannot accept rights that must be renewed after a certain length of time, even if the renewal is free of charge, or that place restrictions on access to the material, especially in the electronic edition (i.e., to the USA only, by subscriber only, etc).

Please review each permission carefully to ensure that you have the necessary rights. Without the rights described above, we may not be able to publish your article, even if it has been accepted for publication, unless the material in question is removed.

A sample request letter is attached below. Be aware, however, that you may be required to use the copyright holder’s own print or online form to submit your request. If you use another form, be sure that the elements identified above are included in your request.

When you send your images, you should enclose photocopies or scans of all of the signed permissions and any other documents sent to you by the rights holders. Because you are legally responsible for clearing rights, you should keep the originals permanently. If it is time to send the pictures and you have not yet received all the permissions, please send a note explaining the status of your request for permissions with the pictures and send copies of the permissions when they arrive. 


Sample permission request letter

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to request permission to use the following material:

Identification of original work (e.g. Author/Title/Copyright Date/Pages) Other identifying information and remarks
Specific portion or portions of the work to be used

in the following article that the University of Chicago Press, a not-for-profit scholarly publisher, is presently preparing for publication in its scholarly journal Gesta:

Author(s)/Title of article
Proposed date of publication/Volume/Issue number

The material is to appear as originally published OR I wish to modify the material as described below:

We request non-exclusive world rights in perpetuity, to use the material as described above, in all languages, in all formats and media, and in all editions, reprints, and derivatives of the journal, whether print or electronic. We further request the right to deposit the work, as published in the journal and only as an integral part of the journal issue, in electronic archives selected by the Press for the purpose of preserving the scholarly record or to fulfill deposit requirements as may be mandated by laws now in place or hereinafter enacted.

If you are willing to grant this permission, please indicate how you would like the material to be acknowledged. If you do not indicate otherwise, we will use the usual scholarly form of acknowledgment, including publisher, author, title, etc:

Please indicate your agreement by signing and returning this letter. In signing you warrant that you are the copyright holder or otherwise authorized to grant the requested rights. If you are not the copyright holder, or if additional permission is needed for world rights from another source, please indicate so.

Thank you for consideration of this request.  




The above request is hereby approved on the conditions specified below, and on the understanding that full credit will be given to the source.


Approved by: Date:                                    


Print name:                                                            









Image Preparation Guidelines

Please read this information carefully to avoid publication delays. All figures will be reproduced exactly as transmitted, so authors must take special care to prepare high-quality files.

Authors are strongly encouraged to transmit all figure files electronically. The figure files should include any labels or markers that are part of the figure itself, but not the figure number, title, legend, or notes (they will be typeset separately). The figure number, title, legend, and notes should be provided with the text of the manuscript. Please indicate the figure number in the file name.   

It is possible that a figure file that displays on the author's monitor and prints from the author's printer without any apparent problem may still have coding that prevents it from being embedded in electronically typeset pages. The production office at the University of Chicago Press will work with authors to diagnose and resolve problems and produce usable files at an early stage in the publication process.

Unacceptable Artwork Types

Artwork Created with PowerPoint, Excel, Word, or WordPerfect: The graphics created using PowerPoint, Excel, Word, or WordPerfect are low-resolution images that are not suitable for professional reproduction. Graphics created in these programs are acceptable only if they are line images, with no gray, color, or shading.

Graphics downloaded from the Internet:
Graphics downloaded from Internet pages are not acceptable for print reproduction. These graphics are low-resolution images (usually 72 dpi), which are suitable for screen display but are far below acceptable standards for print reproduction (see fig. 1).

Figure 1
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Figure 1. 300 dpi (A) versus 72 dpi (B) resolution

Cropping and Sizing

Your artwork will be cropped and sized for publication. If you want to be certain that a particular area of your image is excluded or included, please indicate where the image should be cropped.


Please be consistent with type (both font and size) within a figure. Since most figures are reduced, figures employing more than one font size may, after reduction, contain both text that is too small to read and text that is so large as to be awkward (see fig. 2). After reduction, all text should be legible but not excessively large. Of course, some variation in the size of letters may be necessary to emphasize elements in a figure or to fit lettering in a limited space; however, please try to use no more than a 2-point variation in your type sizes.

Figure 2
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Figure 2. A, Note the large variation in font sizes used for labels. This makes sizing the image particularly difficult and results in awkward-looking graphics. In contrast, B uses fairly consistent type sizes, resulting in a more balanced figure.

Please use the same font type for all figures in your manuscript; use standard fonts such as Times, Arial, Helvetica, or Symbol. Sans serif fonts such as Arial and Helvetica are ideal and should be used whenever possible. All fonts must be embedded in your figures or all font type must be converted to outlines (applications such as Adobe Illustrator can do this). If you transmit a figure that uses custom or nonstandard fonts, the characters may appear in a different font or not appear at all. Remember to check proofs carefully to be sure that all fonts in figures are correct.

If the figures in your manuscript contain units of measurement, please label these units consistently. Make sure abbreviations are consistent with those used in the text and the legend.

Avoid placing labels over shaded areas of a figure. Best results are obtained from black lettering on a white background. If the area requiring a label contains shading, it is best to create a white box and place the black label within.

Figures consisting of more than one panel should include uppercase panel designations ("A," "B," "C," etc.). The Press prefers to receive multipart figures assembled into single image files whenever possible (i.e., one file containing all panels, with parts labeled, and arranged so that they will fit on a journal page or portion of a page). Whenever possible, include all panels of a figure on the same page.

Each chart or graph should incorporate a key to any symbols or colors used. Please set the key inside the figure when possible.

All graphs and plots should include axis lines at the top, bottom, right, and left sides of the data, forming a completely enclosed box. This will allow for easier interpretation by the reader. Figures should not include text along the top axis outside of the box, except for axis labels. Any information about the figure should be contained within the figure legend or in the labels that appear inside the box.

Omit any extraneous information, such as page numbers, figure numbers, author names, or manuscript number, from the figure. Figures themselves should not contain a title or text that is duplicated in the figure legend. Figure legends should be included separately with the manuscript.


When preparing black-and-white photographs, please follow the guidelines for Halftones, below. Preparation of color photographs should follow the Color Art guidelines below. The online version of the journal will have no limits on the number of color images.  The print version will have selected color images.


Halftones are any images that contain gray. When using gray, make sure to use gray levels between 20% and 80%, with at least 20% difference between the levels of gray, or it may become difficult to distinguish between different elements in your figure (see fig. 8). Use a screen of 80 lpi or lower (coarser) and make the figures as close to final publication size as possible, as reduction can cause levels of gray to drop out. Whenever possible, use different patterns of hatching instead of grays to differentiate areas of a figure. Optimum resolution for halftones is 300 dpi when sized appropriately for print publication.

Figure 8
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Figure 8. A, Variation between different shades of gray is often altered by scanning and reprinting. Two shades of gray that are separated by less than a 20% gradation may become very difficult to distinguish. B, Black-and-white fill patterns result in graphics that are sharper and easier for the reader to understand.

Photomicrographs should show only the most pertinent area of the material being studied. A micrometer bar or appropriate scale marker must appear on the figure.

Color Art

Figures that are intended to be printed in color should be prepared as CMYK (i.e., four-color) files, not RGB files (see fig. 9). RGB files cannot be used for printing and must be converted to CMYK, which can result in undesirable color shifts. If authors cannot provide four-color files, the Press will convert the files from RGB to CMYK. Optimum resolution for CMYK files is 300 dpi when sized appropriately for print publication. CMYK Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) files created with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop seem to produce the best results.

Figure 9
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Figure 9. CMYK (A) versus RGB (B) color

Art may appear in color only in the online version of the journal. Black-and-white versions will be used by the publisher for most images in the print version. Gesta allows a limited number of color figures per issue. The decision to print figures in color in the print edition will be made by the editors.

For this reason, if you are transmitting artwork in color please make sure that the colors you use will work well when converted to grayscale. Use contrasting colors with different tones (i.e., a dark blue and a dark red will not work because their tones are too similar; when converted to grayscale the resulting grays will be almost identical).


Guidelines for Preparing Digital Art Files

Figure files should be in TIFF or EPS format. EPS files saved by a commercial-quality graphic program (such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, or Kaleidagraph) are generally the most reliable. Authors should avoid using applications that cannot save directly in TIFF or EPS format.

Each figure must be a separate file. If you have a multipart figure, the Press prefers to receive these as a single file, with panels labeled within the image, rather than as multiple files.

All videos must be in MPEG, QuickTime, MP4, or AVI format. For each video file that is submitted with a paper, the author must provide a still from the video published as a figure. This allows readers to have a printed representation of the animation.

The JPEG file format uses a “lossy” compression that, depending on the setting, will render a file unsuitable for print standards. If at all possible please avoid transmitting electronic files in JPEG format. If this is unavoidable please be sure to save the JPEG at the highest quality available and at the correct resolution for the type of artwork it is (see above).