Best Free Graphical Abstract Makers: Make Graphical Abstract With These Free Software

Delve into the world of scientific graphical abstracts and discover the power of three prominent

From PowerPoint’s accessibility and familiar interface to Inkscape’s free, vector-based design, and Illustrator’s professional-grade tools, scientists have a plethora of options to present their findings vividly.

Dive in to understand how these platforms are revolutionising scientific presentations and publications.

Best Free Graphical Abstract Maker Software For Scientific Research

Microsoft PowerPoint– Designed for presentations and graphical abstracts
– Vivid abstract creation
– User-friendly editing tools
– Direct image download option
Inkscape– Free vector-based software
– Used for scientific illustrations
– Adheres to major journal format guidelines
– Open-source with Adobe-like functionalities
Adobe Illustrator– Premium vector-based software
– High precision and versatility
– Comprehensive toolset for scientific visuals
– Widely accepted in the scientific community

Microsoft Powerpoint

PowerPoint, a renowned software by Microsoft, isn’t just for presentations. It’s emerging as a vital tool for scientists to craft graphical abstracts for research publications.

These abstracts are visual summaries of a scientific paper, sometimes mandated by journals, which help catch a reader’s eye and quickly relay the essence of the research.

At its core, a graphical abstract should be:

  • Vivid
  • Using eye-catching colours, graphics, and illustrations
  • Summarises the section of the intended text well

Utilising PowerPoint, scientists can design an abstract emphasising its utility and ease as an alternative to platforms like Adobe Illustrator and BioRender.

Starting top to bottom, one can easily set the desired dimensions in PowerPoint to align with journal specifications.

By employing simple shapes and arranging them in a visually appealing manner, one can summarise the aim, methods, and results.

For instance, a three-panel design, where each segment has its own focus, gives a clear overview. Users can then introduce graphics to illustrate each panel. Downloading a free scientific illustration to enhance a panel and then editing and customising it within PowerPoint can be done with ease.

PowerPoint’s user-friendly interface makes it easy to edit, insert, and arrange visuals. Moreover, the option to click and download images directly into the software offers added convenience.

While there are free software options available for designing graphical abstracts, like Inkscape, PowerPoint remains an accessible choice. 

For scientists less familiar with design, templates can be a lifeline.

While there are various software packages available for creating scientific figures and graphical abstracts, PowerPoint offers a blend of familiarity and flexibility.

Using these software tools, professionals can craft visuals ideal for research publication, providing a visual representation of their work.


Inkscape, a gem among free software, emerges as a potent tool in the world of scientific illustration. Noted for its vector-based capabilities, Inkscape has been utilised by scientists worldwide to create professional scientific figures and graphical abstracts.

If you’re searching for software to create striking visuals for a research publication, Inkscape might just be the answer you’re looking for.

But why is vector-based so crucial? Well, many journals, like Nature and Elsevier, have a preference for vector-based images.

These are not just visually consistent but also seamlessly align with the strict format guidelines of these renowned journals.

Those new to the concept of vector can learn how to use this platform through various tutorials available online.

While Adobe Illustrator stands tall in the realm of graphical design, not every scientist can access it, especially when budget constraints arise. This is where Inkscape shines brightly.

As a free open-source software, it offers functionalities parallel to Adobe’s offering, making it a favourite even among professionals from prestigious universities. They can:

  • Create
  • Edit
  • Customise diagrams, illustrations, and
  • More

With the upsurge in requests, various online platforms have begun introducing tutorials specifically tailored for Inkscape. The basic principles of Inkscape resonate with those of Adobe Illustrator, allowing transferable skills.

This makes it easy for scientists to transition or use both software simultaneously.

If you’re in the midst of designing a graphical abstract or a scientific figure, consider giving Inkscape a click. Dive deep into its features, and you might just find it’s the software you never knew you needed.

Adobe Illustrator (May be free)

Adobe Illustrator, a powerhouse in the software world, stands out as an exceptional tool for creating graphical abstracts and scientific illustrations. Adobe Illustrator is a paid software. However, many institutions subscribe to it, since it is very popular.

Check with your institution and see if you qualify to use Illustrator for free.  

A professional software by Adobe, Illustrator operates on a vector-based platform, ensuring that visuals maintain their quality regardless of dimension adjustments.

This capability proves invaluable for scientists who wish to submit their figures to journals with stringent format guidelines.

Why has Adobe Illustrator become a go-to for many? Its precision, versatility, and range of tools make designing graphical abstracts a seamless process.

Whether it’s:

  • Arranging complex diagrams
  • Crafting a single-image poster, or
  • Customising a pre-existing template

Illustrator’s platform makes it easy.

Scientists aiming for a visual representation of their research paper find Illustrator’s package comprehensive. Dive deep into the software, and you’ll discover tools to create professional scientific illustrations from top to bottom.

Click on its vast library of shapes, arrows, and graphics, and you’ll realise the extent of its offerings.

The platform even introduces features allowing users to customise and edit illustrations to fit the unique requirements of their scientific domain.

While there are alternatives like Inkscape in the realm of free software, Adobe Illustrator’s consistent updates, professional tools, and wide acceptance in the scientific community have solidified its reputation. 


In the realm of scientific graphical abstracts, tools like Microsoft PowerPoint, Inkscape, and Adobe Illustrator each offer distinctive features.

While PowerPoint provides user-friendly interfaces ideal for presentations, Inkscape stands out as a free vector-based solution, suitable for professional scientific illustrations. Adobe Illustrator, a premium tool, remains a favourite for its precision and comprehensive design capabilities.

Selecting the right software hinges on individual needs, but these options ensure high-quality, vivid visual representations for researchers.

The Author

Dr Andrew Stapleton has a Masters and PhD in Chemistry from the UK and Australia. He has many years of research experience and has worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate at a number of Universities. Although having secured funding for his own research, he left academia to help others with his YouTube channel all about the inner workings of academia and how to make it work for you.