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Style guidelines for submitting journal manuscripts
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by Geoff Hart
Previously published as: Hart, G.J. 2002. Style guidelines for submitting journal manuscripts. the Exchange 9(3):7.
Just as no two editors agree on every detail of editorial style and no two writers will take the same approach to describing a concept, so it is that journals tend to have their own idiosyncratic stylistic quirks. Although a superbly written manuscript about exciting, well-designed research will always be published—eventually—and a journal’s copyeditors will help authors to follow house style, following the journal guidelines in the first place greatly reduces the barriers to publication. Some journals even explicitly state that they’ll return manuscripts unread if they don’t meet the journal’s formatting and other submission guidelines.
One powerful tool offered by the Internet is the ability to find guidelines to authors on a publisher’s Web site. For example, check out the guidelines to authors published by Elsevier (http://authors.elsevier.com/) and the National Research Council of Canada (http://www.nrc.ca/cgibin/cisti/journals/rp/rp2_jour_e) for guidelines from these two major publishers. [A look back from 2005: Sigh. Yet another dead link! But you can still find individual journals via Google.—GH]
Where you can’t find a specific journal’s style guidelines, it’s generally wise to follow a good subject-specific style guide. Some of these are also available online, such as the “Uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals” (http://www.icmje.org/).
Do you have a favorite online style guide? Share it with us! While I’m on the subject of sharing, let me formally introduce you to Alane Alchorn (firstname.lastname@example.org), who has volunteered to begin getting our SIG’s Web site up and running. If you come across other useful online references, please contact Alane with the information.
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