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The Fundamentals of Effective Figure Design for Academics is a self-paced, online course that helps graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, faculty and other researchers learn how to improve their scientific figures. Participants learn about the elements of effective figure design and formatting for clarity. Examples from published literature are used to highlight best practices and help learners identify pitfalls in academic data visualizations.

Topics include:​

  • Identifying your audience and tailoring your figures accordingly

  • The role of exploratory data visualization

  • Making your figures highlight your take-home message (avoiding perceptual judgements, customizing variable order, etc.)

  • Multiple lessons on formatting for function (how to use color, color scale bars, axis labels/fonts/legends, aspect ratio, negative space, etc.)

  • Strategies for getting effective feedback

  • Writing figure captions

  • Tips to ensure your manuscript figures are appropriately sized, high resolution and publication-ready

  • And more! 


Have a lab or research group that wants to learn about designing effective figures as a group? Book a virtual or in-person workshop! Main workshop includes many of the topics in the fundamentals of effective figure design course but contents can be customized to the needs of your group (modules on graphical abstracts, specific chart types common to your research area, interactive breakouts where we go through works in progress, etc.) 


"The Figures First workshop opened my eyes to how critical it is to get figures right for papers and presentations. Sarah gave great examples of what works and what doesn't, and a concrete set of guidelines for creating figures."

Post Doctoral Fellow - University of Calgary

"I wish I had this workshop when I started graduate school. Dr. Treit did an excellent job explaining how to think about figures and how to use them, while also giving a lot of practical advice."

PhD Candidate - University of Calgary

"Really useful workshop on how to elevate your research in posters, papers or presentation. Was a very engaging talk and made it easy to understand the differences between okay and great figure options. Learnt a lot of neat tricks that I will be including in my next work!"

MSc Student - University of Calgary

"Sarah presented an incredibly versatile workshop that will help elevate figures for my manuscripts in the future. I can’t wait to use what she taught!" 

PhD Student - University of Calgary

"This session was excellent. Very accessible. Very practical. Such an easy approach!"

PhD Student - SickKids/University of Toronto

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