Supporting Information Guidelines

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Supporting Information Guidelines

1. Overview

Supporting information (SI) is ancillary to the main content of the article. In the online version of the published paper, readers access the files via a hyperlink attached to the caption of the file, listed in the Supporting Information section of the article. PLOS hosts these files on its servers.

Individual, standalone files are ideal for SI. However, in some cases it is important to have one file containing all SI; e.g., one “Supporting Information S1″ file that contains individually cited supporting tables, figures, etc. Although this option is possible, it is far from ideal from a publishing and reader standpoint.

For an example of Supporting Information in a published article, see:

2. File Type

The PLOS publishing platform supports many file types for SI; if you are concerned about an unusual format, please contact figures[at]

3. File Size

For ease of reader access, we highly recommend that SI files be less than 10MB. Very large files should be compressed (e.g., LZW compression of TIFFs, etc.), changed in format (e.g. conversion of a very large EPS or SVG to PDF), or collected as a Zip file (e.g. multipage datasets).

4. Category Names

PLOS SI may be named in almost any way as long as it contains an “S” and its number. Common categories include Alternative Language Abstract, Appendix, Checklist, Dataset, Figure, File, Movie, Protocol, Supporting Information, Table, Text, Video.

The files must be named in whole numbers only. Separate parts (e.g., Table S1A and S1B) should either be combined into one file or renamed with whole numbers (e.g., Table S1 and S2).

5. Captions

Because SI is accessed via a hyperlink attached to its captions, captions must be listed in the article file. Do not submit a separate caption file. It is acceptable to have them in the file itself in addition, but they must be in the article file for access to be possible in the published version.

The file category name and number is required, and a one-line title is highly recommended. A legend can also be included but is not required. Supporting Information captions should be formatted as follows.

      Text S1. Title is strongly recommended. Legend is optional.

6. In-Text Citations

While it is highly recommended, it is not technically required that all SI be cited in the text. In addition, the citations need not be in numerical order, as is required for regular publishing figures and tables.

7. Multimedia Files

Requirements and Format

We expect reasonable video quality and prefer 128 kbit/s AAC audio and 480p H.264 video in an MPEG-4 (mp4) container. However, we accept other video file formats: mov, avi, mpg, mpeg, mp4.

File Size

Preferred size limit of movies is 10MB. If making the dimensions smaller or recompressing the movie compromises the image quality or usefulness of the movie, we can accept the movie as is.

Video Players

Videos must open and play in either QuickTime Player v. 7.6.2 or Windows Media Player v. 11. Preferably both, but as long as they play in one of these common players, the movie is acceptable.

VLC (VideoLAN Client) is a cross-platform universal video player. VLC will play most formats and codecs without the need to download additional software modules. VLC is free, GPL licensed, and includes streaming and other features.


A codec (“compression-decompression”) is a software module that contains algorithms used by encoding or playback software to encode or decode video and/or audio information.

Popular proprietary codecs include Windows Media Video and QuickTime. Open source video codec alternatives include x264 or the XviD codec. XviD is a high-quality codec and is the most widely supported open-source option available. It is relatively simple for most people to watch as many players have native support for XviD. A guide to encoding is available at


Videos compression standards, such as the MPEG1, MPEG2, and MPEG4 standards set by the Motion Picture Experts Group, are a set of rules that video codecs and formats must be designed to adhere to. The MPEG4 standard contains several parts including Advanced Simple Profile (MPEG4 Part 2) that contains elements implemented in codecs such as XviD, 3ivX, DivX, and H.264 (MPEG4 Part 10).