Picturing science: Design patterns in graphical abstracts

Jessica Hullman*, Benjamin Bach

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

8 Scopus citations


A graphical abstract (GA) provides a concise visual summary of a scientific contribution. GAs are increasingly required by journals to help make scientific publications more accessible to readers. We characterize the design space of GAs through a qualitative analysis of 54 GAs from a range of disciplines, and descriptions of GA design principles from scientific publishers. We present a set of design dimensions, visual structures, and design templates that describe how GAs communicate via pictorial and symbolic elements. By reflecting on how GAs employ visual metaphors, representational genres, and text relative to prior characterizations of how diagrams communicate, our work sheds light on how and why GAs may be distinct. We outline steps for future work at the intersection of HCI, AI, and scientific communication aimed at the creation of GAs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDiagrammatic Representation and Inference - 10th International Conference, Diagrams 2018, Proceedings
EditorsGem Stapleton, Francesco Bellucci, Amirouche Moktefi, Peter Chapman, Sarah Perez-Kriz
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9783319913759
StatePublished - 2018
Event10th International Conference on the Theory and Application of Diagrams, Diagrams 2018 - Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: Jun 18 2018Jun 22 2018

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume10871 LNAI
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Other10th International Conference on the Theory and Application of Diagrams, Diagrams 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Diagram
  • Graphical abstract
  • Information visualization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Science(all)


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