Advertisement

Figure Guidelines   ●   Figure Specifications   ●   Figure Instructions   ●   Table Specifications   ●   FAQ


PLOS Table Specifications

1. Overview

2. Requirements

3. Do's and Don'ts of Table Formatting

4. Dimensions

5. Table Captions

6. In-Text Table Citations



1. Overview

Tables should be incorporated into the end of the article file, not submitted separately. The more closely your tables meet the specifications in this section, the fewer revisions you'll need to process and the faster and more accurately your piece is likely to publish.

In the published version, tables will be automatically formatted with alternate row shading, the content left-aligned in cells, the title placed above the table, and legend/footnotes placed below.

Table adapted from: Ulmer A, Dietz K, Hodak I, Polzer B, Scheitler S, et al. (2014) Quantitative Measurement of Melanoma Spread in Sentinel Lymph Nodes and Survival. PLoS Med 11(2): e1001604. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001604

2. Requirements

Tables should:

  • Be cell-based (e.g., created in Word with the Tables tool [preferred] or in Excel).
  • Be editable (i.e., not a graphic object).
  • Be organized with rows and columns, not with returns, spaces, or tabs.
  • Use horizontally merged heading columns to indicate spanning.
  • Use vertically merged row labels to indicate groupings.
  • Multi-part tables with varying numbers of columns or multiple footnote sections should be divided and renumbered as separate tables.

Tables should not:

  • Use returns, spaces, or tabs.
  • Use lines, rules, or borders.
  • Use spaces within cells to align text.
  • Contain color or shading.
  • Contain graphics.
  • Contain vertically merged cells in the body.
  • Contain inserted text boxes.
  • Contain tables within tables or cells within cells.
  • Contain variable row and column dimensions within the same table.

^Back to top


3. Do's and Don'ts of Table Formatting

Below is a simple example of a correctly formatted table in a source Word document. Each data item occupies its own cell. The title is above the table, and the legend and footnotes are below.

Table adapted from source file of: Ulmer A, Dietz K, Hodak I, Polzer B, Scheitler S, et al. (2014) Quantitative Measurement of Melanoma Spread in Sentinel Lymph Nodes and Survival. PLoS Med 11(2): e1001604. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001604

Do's and Don'ts in Manuscript Word Documents
Do Don't
DO: Put data in rows and columns to organize it.
DON'T: Use returns or spaces to separate data.
DO: Use horizontally merged heading cells to indicate column spanning.
DON'T: Use rules to indicate spanning rows.
DO: Use vertically merged left-column cells to indicate grouping.
DON'T: Use vertically merged cells in the body of the table.

^Back to top


4. Dimensions

Tables do not have strict dimension requirements. However, some wide tables may be printed sideways in the PDF version of the article. Very large tables may span more than one page in the PDF.

^Back to top

5. Table Captions

Publishing tables require a number and brief descriptive title placed above the table. Legends, footnotes, and other text should be placed below the table.

^Back to top

6. In-Text Table Citations

Tables are inserted into the published article according to the placement of their first citation in the article. Therefore, they should be cited in numerical order upon first mention.

Table citations should appear in ascending numeric order upon first appearance in the text, then in text boxes, then in figure legends, then in tables, then in Supporting Information legends.

In-Text Citations for Supporting Information Tables

While it is highly recommended, it is not technically required that all Supporting Information be cited in the text. Citations need not be in numerical order, as is required for regular publishing figures and tables.

^Back to top