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Visual Abstracts


What is a visual abstract?

A visual abstract is a visual summary of the key findings of an article. Like the abstract section of an article; it conveys the most essential points in a shorter format, but it does not replace reading the full article. Instead, it serves to generate reader interest.


How does a visual abstract help my article?

In today’s digital environment, you have just a few seconds to capture the audience’s attention. High-impact visuals are just one of the tools that help to achieve this. A 2017 study by Ibrahim et al showed that, compared to text-only tweets promoting a published article, tweets with a visual abstract had 7-fold higher impressions, 8-fold higher retweets, and nearly 3-fold higher article visits on the publisher website (1). Other trials have shown visual abstracts to be similarly effective across social media (2,3).


Creating a visual abstract for your PCD manuscript

During the peer review process, authors may be invited by PCD’s Editor in Chief to create and submit a visual abstract for consideration along with their manuscript. If a visual abstract is requested, the corresponding author will receive an email invitation to work with the PCD team to make stylistic edits and approve a final version for release. The manuscript and visual abstract are reviewed independently, so a visual abstract might be rejected even though the accompanying manuscript is accepted for publication. The corresponding author will serve as the single point of contact and will be responsible for collecting and combining comments from coauthors.


PCD’s best practices for visual abstracts:

  1. Identify 1-3 key points or outcomes in the manuscript.
  2. Build a slide with one panel for each key point using PCD’s template for visual abstracts below. You may have 1-3 panels in a slide.
  3. Enter the title, first author name, and key points into the template.
  4. Add visuals to convey each point. Be sure to use ONLY images and graphics that are original or are within the public domain. Copyrighted images will not be accepted.
  5. Save your slide in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint and submit it as a supplementary file along with all other manuscript documents at https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/pcdexternal icon.


PCD Template

PCD Template
visual abstract table example

For examples please see PCD’s Visual Abstracts gallery.


  1. Ibrahim AM, Lillemoe KD, Klingensmith ME, Dimick JB. Visual Abstracts to Disseminate Research on Social Media: A Prospective, Case-control Crossover Study. Ann Surg 2017;266(6):e46-e48.
  2. Lindquist LA, Ramirez-Zohfeld V. Visual Abstracts to disseminate geriatrics research through social media. J Am Geriatr Soc 2019;67(6):1128-1131.
  3. Koo K, Aro T, Pierorazio PM. Impact of Social Media Visual Abstracts on Research Engagement and Dissemination in Urology. J Urol 2019;202(5):875-877.


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The opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors’ affiliated institutions.