Editorial Manual

Maps and figures, including photographs



In United Nations documents, maps are numbered with arabic numerals and form their own series.

Author departments should consult the Geospatial Information Section (formerly the Cartographic Section) of the Office of Information and Communications Technology before preparing maps for publication. All cartographic materials must be reviewed by the Section before they are submitted for processing. The Section will provide advice on accuracy, copyright permission or notice, and disclaimers regarding political boundaries or the status of areas. For detailed guidelines on the publication of maps, see ST/AI/189/Add.25/Rev.1.

Maps and geographical information are available on the website of the Geospatial Information Section (www.un.org/geospatial).



Figures (charts, graphs and photographs) form their own series and are numbered with roman numerals. Where there are more than 20 figures, however, they should normally be numbered with arabic numerals. If there is only one figure in a document, it is not numbered and the word “Figure” is omitted from the heading.

Note: Authors are encouraged not to include numerous figures in a document; data may be better stated in the text.



The following is a guide on the use of photographs in official documentation:

  • Photographs must have attribution (e.g. Source: Panel of Experts). The United Nations can publish them only with knowledge of who the photographer is or who holds the copyright. Publishing photographs without appropriate authorization could expose the United Nations to accusations of copyright infringement.
  • The United Nations must be especially careful about photographs of minors. Normally when minors are photographed and when such photographs are released by the United Nations, the permission of the parent or guardian should be sought.
  • The publication of photographs should not be seen to endanger the safety and security of the individuals photographed.
  • The publication of photographs should not risk harming the reputation of the individuals or children concerned without appropriately examining the context within which the photographs were taken or the actions of the individuals themselves.
  • Publication of photographs should not prejudice the security or proper conduct of ongoing operations or activities of the United Nations anywhere in the world.
  • The Secretary-General's bulletin on information sensitivity, classification and handling (ST/SGB/2007/6) provides important policy guidance in this regard. Under section 1 of that bulletin, sensitive information entrusted to or originating from the United Nations includes "documents whose disclosure is likely to endanger the safety or security of any individual, violate his or her rights or invade his or her privacy" and "documents whose disclosure is likely to endanger the security of Member States or prejudice the security or proper conduct of any operation or activity of the United Nations, including any of its peacekeeping operations".