ATTENTION. Message from the Field Museum Field Guides Team: We are happy to share that we have received an astonishing number of guides in 2020 and 2021. Due to this high volume of submissions, our team is taking longer to review and edit field guides and can no longer offer a timeline for publication. Authors will receive communications about the progress of their guides when entering the final review/editing phase. Please use Submittable for all communications regarding your field guide. We thank authors and partners for their patience as we work tirelessly to support your scientific contribution!

The Most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

If you do not find the answer to your questions, please contact us at:

Downloadable PDF OF FAQ

What is a Field Museum field guide?

Field Museum Field Guides are free and accessible resources that abound with beautiful images and scientific information to help people engage with the diversity of nature and culture on our planet. They identify living organisms and cultural material in ways that advance research, understanding, and conservation across the globe.

What is necessary to produce a guide?


High-quality photos: Your guide is more likely to be accepted if a) your photos are of high quality, b) the species are recognizable in this small format (the characteristics that define a specific specie should be easy to see in a small photo), and c) you follow our advice on choosing, optimizing, and cropping photographs.

Accurate scientific identification: Authors are responsible for having experts review all scientific identifications and information.

Other visuals: Authors may use other visual assets such as diagrams, maps, infographics, and environment /landscape photos. Authors are responsible for providing all supplemental visuals. Cite the source when necessary. 

Templates: Authors must use one of the templates available on our website. Authors may modify our templates when is necessary to add graphics, lists, maps, etc.If you need assistance or feedback about template modifications, please contact us.

Formatting and Layout:

A. Use an 8 1/2 by 11-inch document format.

B. Keep the layout in a vertical orientation. (i.e., 8 1/2 by 11 inches, not 11 by 8 1/2 inches)

C. Apply only one font to your field guide. Please choose one from the following: Arial, New Times Roman, or Times.

D. Apply even spacing between photos.  

If you have already prepared a guide and want to see it published on our web page, submit it through our online platform, Submittable.

Please attach a copy of your guide in Microsoft Word Doc and PDF. Our editors will analyze your material to decide if your guide can be:

  1. approved for immediate posting;
  2. approved for posting after incorporating specialists' suggestions;
  3. not approved.
I found an incorrectly identified photo of a species in a guide on The Field Museum Field Guides page. Whom should I contact?

Send an email directly to the guide's author (the address can be found in the guide itself). If you can’t locate the author, please send our team an email at

How much does it cost to publish on your website?

Publishing on our website is free for all authors.

How do I obtain a printed and laminated field guide copy?

We do not distribute hard copies of field guides. A PDF copy can be downloaded, printed, and laminated at the home, office, or stores that offer this service.

We recommend printing each guide’s page individually and assembling two back-to-back pages. Use a plastic sheet with a 5mil thickness to guarantee the best durability.

Can I submit a field guide displaying the cultural uses of plants?

Yes, you can submit a guide emphasizing traditional or historical uses of plants. If accepted, you are required to add the following disclaimer to your guide:

This Field Guide contains information about communities’ traditional or historical uses of plants for medicinal purposes; this information is provided for scholarly and educational use only. Neither the Field Museum nor any other contributor makes any representation about the efficacy of such use for any medical condition. Do not use this information as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professionals concerning any question you may have about your health or treatment for a medical condition.

I am developing a bird field guide. What classification system is accepted?

We prefer, and highly recommend South American authors use the American Ornithological Society's standard classification created by the South American Classification Committee.(SACC) and North American Classification Committee (NACC) for USA authors. Authors can use other classification standards. However, they must add the classification and common name's reference/source to their guides. All bird guides must have FAMILY listed under each photo. If all the birds belong to one FAMILY, please add the FAMILY name to the guide's title.

Can you set up a guide for me if I send my photos?

Due to capacity, we are unable to develop guides at this moment.

Why do my photos not fit in the Word table?

Your photos should be cut to a standard size specified in our instructions in the "Make a guide" section, Field Guide Instructions.

Is it possible to include photos of habitats, maps, or other graphics in the guide? Can I incorporate an institutional logo in my guide?

Yes, these are welcomed and encouraged. But maps, graphics, and other visual assets must be produced by the authors, our team doesn't produce them. Contact us if you are having difficulty with our original template. We can make modifications to fit your visual needs.

Guides can include logos if the authors desire it or the institution financing your project requires it. Please place your logos on the upper right-side side of the page, near the title. Please put all logos together. Please note: If necessary, our team may slightly change the size or placement of the logo or ask for a higher-quality logo file.

What is the limit of authors per guide?

There is no limit. If you have a long list of authors that do not fit in the space for authors, a team member will contact you to discuss the best way to include them in the guide.

Who should be cited as the author of a guide: the photographers or those who identified the species? Can the organizer of a guide be cited as the only author even if they have not contributed with photos and/or identification?

We recommend that those who contributed most or all of the photos and those who helped with identifications receive the privilege of sharing the authorship of the guide with the person chosen by the group to organize it. The decision about who deserves to be an author is up to the group involved in its production.

Who should I include in the “acknowledgments” section in the credits?

Authors may add individuals and institutions who have helped directly and/or indirectly in developing the guide. For example, sponsorships (financial support), community consent, plant species identification, or special archival permission.

What is the minimum number of photos needed to make a guide?

It depends on the following:  What are you aiming to display in your guide? What kind of organisms will be displayed? We have several templates that offer different photo sizes and photo quantity per page. Please explore our templates. There is no maximum number of photos for guides.

How many photos of the same species should be used in a guide?

We recommend representing each species with 2 or 3 images (one of the whole plant and a close-up shot to show more details: flower, leaf, etc.) for plant guides. Photos with flowers and fruits facilitate the identification of species. While one photo is sufficient to identify some animals, many guides include photos of males, females, juveniles, eggs, larvae, etc.

An expert has not confirmed most of my photo identifications. Can you confirm their identification?

No, we cannot identify your photos. There are groups on Facebook involving specialists that can help you identify some photos (for example, FacePlant). To verify spelling and current usage, we recommend online services like the Global Name Resolver for animals And the Taxonomic Name Resolution Service for plants

How do I give credit to the photographers who I worked with or who otherwise gave me permission to use their photos?

Authors working with photographers can give proper credit in our credit section below the title and provide initials below scientific information. All photographers' names must be listed when submitting a guide in Submittable.

I would like to have my photos published on the Field Museum’s Live Plant Photos website. How do I do this?

Option 1. Please send an email to We will send instructions to submit your photos. You can only submit photos taken or owned by you.

Options 2. If you are interested in sharing your guide’s photos on our Live Plant Photos websites (which are plants only) and/or with our partner institutions such as GBIF and Encyclopedia of Life in the future. We highly encourage you to ONLY share your own photo. You must agree to share your photos on the Submittable submission form and upload them on the Submittable. All photos submitted for Live Plant Photos must be legally owned by the person submitting the photos.

What is the Live Plant Photos of the Field Museum?

Live Plant Photo is a searchable digital gallery of selected and curated plant photos. We provide this resource as a way to review many images of different families and genera. In this way, one gradually learns distinctive groups, especially if combined with other information obtained from books, herbarium work, or field observations. This resource is linked to our herbarium specimen page.

Learn More:

What copyright options do you offer for my field guide?

To publish your work on our website, we need to archive it in the Field Museum’s collections management system. By archiving it there, your work and your role in creating it will be preserved long-term. You have three copyright options:

  • I want to release this work into the public domain (CC0 waiver). What this means: By placing your work in the public domain, you waive all rights to the material--any person may use it for any purpose without restriction or your permission. See the Creative Commons CC0 Waiver page for more information:
  • I am happy to transfer the copyright to the Field Museum to make my work accessible for research. What this means: The Museum commits to releasing your material to the public under a Creative Commons license that allows anyone to use the material for non-commercial purposes (CC BY-NC 4.0). Your name will be included in the materials database record as its creator. This allows the museum to add your material to its collections management system and make it available to the public under our Data Norms. The public (and you) will be able to use the material for any non-commercial purpose without further permission from you or the Museum (people will have to contact the Museum for permission for other uses). We will always acknowledge you as the creator of the materials when practical and will only use the materials for non-commercial, museum- and research-related purposes.
  • I’m releasing this material under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license myself. What this means: This still allows the museum to add your material to its collections management system and make it available to the public under the CC BY-NC license. If our Data Norms evolve in a more open direction, we may need to remove your content from our collection management system without notice. The public (and the Museum) will be able to use the material for any non-commercial purpose without your further permission (people will have to contact you for permission for other uses). We will use the credit line: (c) [your name] CC BY-NC.


The copyright options are for the field guide solely. Not for individual photos. The author(s) is responsible for obtaining the photographers' authorization to use their material in the author's guide.

Once they are published in a guide, can I use my photos in other types of publications?

Yes. All of the photos published in field guides can be used in other publications, such as articles, magazines, theses, etc. If the author does not legally own the guide’s photos, it is the author's responsibility to seek out the photographers' authorization for the use of their photos for purposes other than the field guide.

The photos in my guide are part of an article I published. Can I include a link from the guide to my published article?

Yes. Once our team approves your guide for publication, you can send us the link to the article for inclusion in the notes section of your field guide. You can also add a link to the pdf document. Use our website link to your field guide, which allows us to track usage and downloads of the guide.

Can I distribute and promote my guide on research gate (or other scientific platforms and websites) while it is pending review by the Field Museum-Field Guides team?

No. Field guides under review are not ready to be published anywhere. We do not approve the promotion or distribution of unfinished Field Museum field guides. The author may remove the submission and publish it through another institution. However, the author must remove the field museum format and field museum name from the document before publishing elsewhere.

I am done making my field guide. How do I submit my guide for review and publication?

Authors are asked to submit their guides in Submittable, our online submissions platform. Follow these steps:

1. Create a Submittable.

2. Once an account is created, please choose the submission form in your native language. Choosing the submission form in your native language ensures efficient communication and help from our team.

3. Choose a copyright option for your guide. We offer 3 different options. 

4. Fill out all the necessary sections on the form. 

5. You have the option to share your photos with Live Plant Photos. If you choose to share your photos (plants only), upload the photos. Only share photos you own. 

6.  Submit your form. You will receive an automatic message confirming it was received.

7. Check your email for Submittable messages. Please respond to all communication through Submittable.

Can I make one submission for several guides?

Each field guide must be submitted individually.

What does the review process consist of?

STEP 1 Submission Received

Once the guide is made, the author submits his/her field guide via Submittable, our online submissions platform.

STEP 2 Field Guides Team Review

The Field Guides Team reviews the guide. We ask ourselves several questions: Does it have high-quality images? Does it have all the required scientific information? We also address formatting issues, enhance photos, and communicate with the author to obtain other information and visual assets, if necessary. 

STEP 3 An Expert Review

After edits are done by both the author and the Field Guides Team, we focus on quality control.

a.    We ask all our authors to have an expert review their guides before submitting them.

b.    We ask a second expert to review on our end.

STEP 4 Final edits

We present a final version to the author. At this point, the author (s) can send approval for publication or a list of additional changes to be made. 

STEP 5: Ready to Publish

After receiving the author's and, in a few cases, editors' publication approval, the field guide gets published on our website! 

Please note:this process may vary depending on each guide’s specific needs. Due to staff capacity and the volume of submissions received, we cannot give you an exact timeline. 

How will the progress of my guide be communicated to me?

We will send you messages through Submittable at different stages of your guide. You can keep track of guide status through the labels found on your submissions tab in Submittable. Below is a breakdown of tabs and corresponding emails that inform about guide status.


Email Titles/Tabs

What does this mean?


Your guide is received and assigned to a staff member. It is in the process of review at the moment. We will email you whether your field guide has been accepted or declined. During this process we may contact you for additional information and to provide updates.


Your guide is accepted for publication. It will be available on our website within 2 months of your acceptance date. Once published, we will email you the direct link to your published field guide. Please make sure your content is in an accurate and final form. Once your work is accepted for publication, we will not be able to modify content in an immediate fashion, unless there are substantive scientific reasons. 


Your guide is not accepted for publication at the moment. We will advise you to make changes to your field guide and resubmit an updated version in the near future.


Your guide is published! We will inform you by Submittable email that your field guide is available on the Field Museum's field guide website. The email will include a direct link.

Open Editing

Your guide is being edited. This phase can take a great amount of time as our production team is addressing minor to major edits to your field guide. During this process, we may contact you for additional information or questions regarding your field guide.


Authors may choose to withdraw their field guide if they no longer want to publish their guide on our website.

I have a new version of the field guide that I submitted via Submittable. Should I withdraw my current submission and create a new one with the updated version?

No, do not withdraw your current submission if you have updated the submitted guide. Please send us a message informing us about the updated version and the new updated file as an attachment.

I have an updated version of my guide, which was already published. How can I republish an updated guide on your website?

To update an already published guide, go to Submittable and fill out the “Republish a Field Guide” form. Please use the form available in your native language. Within this form, you will edit and upload your new version.

How long will it take for my field guide to be reviewed and published?

To update an already published guide, go to Submittable and fill out the “Republish a Field Guide” form. Please use the form available in your native language. Within this form, you will upload your new version.