Visual abstract made easy with Mind the Graph

Visual abstract made easy with Mind the Graph

Are you trying to publish an article an the editor asked you for a visual abstract? Sometimes it might be troubling. If you are missing a visual abstract template or are here to research a few examples, or if are you worried because you don’t have a design background: Don’t worry, Mind the graph is here to solve all your problems!
With recent changes in publishing format, almost all the publishing houses are encouraging submission with visual abstracts. Mind the graph is with you in your publishing journey. Let us help you to reach your high-impact factor publishing goal. We can help you to put all your thoughts together and make a clear pictorial representation for your research article.

What are visual abstracts?

Visual abstracts are high-resolution images representing the overall idea of the research paper. Visual abstracts can summarize research articles, review articles, or short notes. The visual abstracts are to make the reader aware of the research article in a few minutes. The visual abstracts usually contain the overall idea of experimental design, hypothesis, and an indication of results.

Mind the Graph example of Visual Abstract below can be also found in another blog post about the topic – check it out

Layout template of a visual abstract by Annals of Surgery author guideline
That’s an example of a typical visual abstract proposed by Annals of Surgery form the Lippincott scientific publisher.

The visual abstracts were proposed by the Annals of Surgery and are now adopted by a series of other journals. If you want to create one and need detailed information about the guidelines on visual abstract creation, check this link for authors.

Why use visual abstracts?

The pictorial communications are well-received by the audience in the gathering. Similarly, a few-page long article is concisely presented in one image by a visual abstract. Using visual abstracts are an effective way of narrating the crucial points to be conveyed by the author. It also becomes a quick review object of the research article and saves time for the reader. A well-presented visual abstract ultimately represents the whole story of a research paper and
becomes the heart of the article.

What data do you need to prepare a visual abstract?

Your research article has a story. Visual abstracts translate that story into a diagram. They are not required to present all the data incorporated in your research article. It should highlight the facts presented in the text-based abstract.

Types of visual abstracts

The visual abstract can be diagram style, infographics, and comic type. The diagram-style visual abstract are usually helps when there are plenty of molecular structures involved. The infographic style is preferred when you have objects and text to be incorporated in the same diagram. Infographics usually work well with any technically detailed article. The comic type
visual abstract is the most appropriate type for communicating in magazines. readers. Get your article accepted easily with world-class graphics and request further professional assistance if you need!

Visual abstract example published by Annals of Surgery
This is a typical example of a visual abstract for Annals of Surgery created by Mind the Graph team for a client. Available at

Other examples of visual abstracts that do not follow exactly the template of Annals of Surgery are provided below.

How to prepare a visual abstract?

Mind the graph is one of the best online platforms for the preparation of visual abstracts for scientific journals. We have the solution for each of your needs. Our online platform has more than 1,00,000 icons related to more than 50 categories of life science. You don’t need to prepare any icons at Mind the Graph, you will have access to thousand of scientifically accurate illustrations to start. From mice and rats, lab animals, any medical and Life Science
related area is represented in Mind the Graph. Our platform has a range of icons for microbiology, serology, neurobiology, and various surgical and laboratory instruments. It’s all made for and with the aid of research scientists.

Examples of layout for visual abstract
A few examples of visual abstracts to start designing your own.

The process to create visual abstracts in the Mind the Graph platform is very straightforward. Log in to the platform, select the required icons, drag and drop them to the page. Arrange the icons according to their relationships and add the text that explains your story! Yes! That’s it. You get to choose from various background colors, themes and we have pre-prepared formats
too. Do you need any specific icons? We can prepare them for you in no time.

Visual abstract created with Mind the Graph

The step by step process of creating a visual abstract, based on the resumed guidelines of “Annals of Thoracic Surgery” available here

Step-by-step process of creating a visual abstract

Here are some instructions and visual abstracts templates suggested by the guide of authors mentioned above. It contains instructions about how to position the title, research questions, images and conclusions / implications of the research depicted in the visual abstract. It’s a nice shortcut for you to start designing your visual abstracts with Mind the graph. Also, of course you can try to access the templates page and see a few examples of visual abstracts organization done by the design team.

  1. Message: Prioritize the key message.Visual display of your message depends on the type and number of messages / outcomes you hope to convey.
  2. Layout:
    1. Title with Key Question Being Addressed
    2. Visual fields: Can be done with colored boxes, panels, or shapes. For ease of browsing, the visual abstract should have a clear section separation
    3. Outcomes / Messages: Organize them in (1) a background, methods, findings format or (2) 1-3 key outcomes that one wants to convey.
    4. Use short phrases and comparative phrases inside text boxes for each outcome / message.
    5. Add in numeric values for each outcome with units and comparative values such as p-values (where applicable).
    6. Lettering should be clearly legible and no smaller than 10 point font for normal text.
    7. Add author, citation, and Journal
  3. Color: Effort should be taken to use colors that complement each other or of different shades. If you are not sure about colors, use monochromatic style.
  4. Figures: Can be figures used in the manuscript or images that you either have a copyright to use, make sure you use trustful resources for your image bank, such as: Shutterstock Getty Image, Clip art (from Microsoft Word), Icons, 3D Models, SmartArt (from Microsoft PowerPoint) or
  5. Other options include creating the icon yourself or collaborating with a graphic designer. Google Images is not an option because you don’t have the copyright to transfer to publishers.

Are you ready to start creating your own visual abstracts? There are plenty of opportunity and resources to do that at Mind the Graph. Don’t let the lack of skills or experience turn you down from this amazing experience.

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Fabricio Pamplona is the founder of Mind the Graph - a tool used by over 400K users in 60 countries. He has a Ph.D. and solid scientific background in Psychopharmacology and experience as a Guest Researcher at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry (Germany) and Researcher in D'Or Institute for Research and Education (IDOR, Brazil). Fabricio holds over 2500 citations in Google Scholar. He has 10 years of experience in small innovative businesses, with relevant experience in product design and innovation management. Connect with him on LinkedIn - Fabricio Pamplona.