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Journal Formatting



Formatting an article is time consuming and requires careful reading of a long and detailed website or document (often called “Instructions for Authors”). We can save you time and ensure that your paper fulfills the specific formatting requirements of your target journal. Once we have the final version of your paper, we carefully survey the journal’s website and Instructions for Authors, and format your paper according to each and every guideline. Click here to more clearly understand what these guidelines entail.


Journal Formatting Service


The journal formatting service starts with the preformating assessment. During this stage, we assess the journal’s guidelines and the authors select the type of formatting (e.g., research article, letter to the editor, or short communication) for their paper, abstract, and submission letter. Then, with this input, we adapt your paper to fit the style guidelines of a specific journal or publisher.

In cases in which we have edited and/or translated a paper for you, we require that you read over the edited version and accept or reject the changes offered by our editors, as well as read the editors’ comments, before formatting. Once you have accepted all of the changes and deleted the editor’s comments, send us this version of your paper for formatting.


Who benefits from our journal formatting services?


Authors who wish for their manuscript to comply with a journal’s Instructions for Authors.

What tasks are included in journal formatting?

  • Adapting text to suit style, spelling, and punctuation requirements
  • Reformatting references and citations to suit journal style
  • Reorganizing and/or renaming the main sections of manuscripts to suit journal guidelines
  • Rearranging tables, figures, and legends to suit journal requirements
  • Ensuring that manuscripts adhere to special instructions (e.g., acronyms, units, and symbols)
  • Rearranging text to avoid awkward page breaks


What do we need from you?


We need the name of the journal you are submitting to and its website (if known). Additionally, we need you to send us a final copy of your paper that is ready for formatting. If you have samples of articles previously published in your target journal that we can use as a reference, please upload these for us as well.


How long does this service take?


The number of working days necessary for formatting is determined according to the individual article. After assessment of your article, we notify you of the number of days necessary for formatting. This service is provided after editing or translation is completed and is not included in the amount of time necessary for preliminary editing or translation services.


What we do not do during journal formatting services:


  • Edit or shorten the content of the paper to conform to the journal’s criteria
  • Ensure that the experiments described in the manuscript meet the journal’s ethical considerations
  • Verify that the manuscript meets the journal’s policy considerations
  • Evaluate whether the manuscript’s artwork and pictures meet the journal’s requirements
  • Write a cover letter to conform to the Instructions for Authors
  • Edit or add footnotes
  • Convert figures or tables to ensure that they fulfill the required formatting rules of your journal. (If you’re looking for this specific service, please click this link to learn about our two-stage art preparation service.)


How to understand a journal’s Instructions for Authors


Journals receive numerous manuscript submissions every day. To make their task of analyzing manuscripts easier, most journals require that manuscripts conform to a standard format. The specifics of these formats vary from journal to journal and are explained by each publication in its Instructions for Authors.


The Instructions for Authors detail the types of articles a journal accepts for publication, the required format for each type of article, specifications regarding the number and type of illustrations (photographs, tables, and figures), specifications about the language used, publishing charges (if any), and any other instructions concerning the journal. Authors should read and follow these instructions carefully: a manuscript that meets all of a journal’s requirements makes a favorable impression on journal editors and peer reviewers, allowing the submitted manuscript to continue to the next stage of the publication process and making the peer review process easier.


The following specifications are usually provided in the Instructions for Authors:

    • Types of articles acceptable to the journal
      Journals that publish many different types of articles (such as JAMA) usually have very specific criteria about the content and style of each type of article (e.g., letters to the editor, short communications, full-length research papers, and review articles). Such journals use the Instructions for Authors to explain what can be included in each type of article.
    • Presubmission letter to the editor
      Many journals ask authors to make a presubmission inquiry to ascertain whether the journal will be interested in the type of article and topic they have in mind and whether the style and specifications of the article conform to the journal’s requirements. This saves both authors and journal editors a lot of time. Journals also often provide their contact telephone number and e-mail address in the Instructions.
    • English level
      Most English-language journals usually accept only manuscripts written in English; those in other languages must be translated into English prior to submission. A journal will request authors to revise their manuscript if reviewers deem the language quality to be insufficient.
    • British or American English
      Journals may specify in the Instructions whether they want British or American English used in manuscripts. If the language style has not been specified, the author should examine published articles to determine whether the journal has a preferred style.
    • Main text format
      Journals are usually particular about how their manuscripts are formatted. Most journals set a limit on the number of words or pages permitted. A journal may also specify font size (typically 10-, 11-, or 12-point size) and line spacing (usually double-spaced). Most journals prefer the right margin to be unjustified, whereas some journals specify that the manuscript must be in a single column format (with increased publication charges applicable if double columns are used).
      Pages must be numbered consecutively, with separate pages for the title page and figures often requested in the Instructions. Certain journals, such as JSPJ and Nature, provide templates to be used for formatting the manuscript. You can view the template for Nature at
    • Title page format
      Journals differ in their title page requirements. Most journals specify that the title page should be typed on a separate sheet of paper and should include the title of the article; the author’s name, academic degrees, address, and university or institute; the word count; and the name of the corresponding author (when there is more than one author). Some journals specifically state that a separate title page should not be provided.
    • Abstract format
      For abstracts, journals usually specify the number of words permitted (e.g., between 250 and 350 words), the content expected, whether the IMRAD format must be followed, and whether the abstract must be typed on a separate sheet of paper.
    • Keyword format
      Keywords (sometimes called “index terms”) are required to help people find an article through online search engines and academic databases. Most journals specify the number of keywords they require (e.g., 5–10). Keywords are usually included in the manuscript just after the abstract, and may need to be arranged alphabetically. In some instances, journals require that keywords be selected from a predetermined list.
    • Reference format
      A journal may want references numbered consecutively as they appear in the text or placed in alphabetical order. Some journals ask for the DOI (Digital Object Identifier) to be included in the citation, even if a print version of an article is being cited. The style to be followed when writing the references will be mentioned in the Instructions, along with specific examples for citing papers, books, and book chapters. For instance, some journals will specify that all the authors of a cited paper should be mentioned, whereas others ask for the names of the first or first three authors only, followed by “et al.” Medical journals may specify whether they prefer Vancouver or Harvard style references.
    • Table format
      The Instructions may specify the number of tables permitted, the method to be followed for numbering them, word count limits for the titles/subtitles of tables, and whether a hard copy of the tables must be sent to the journal. Most journals request that tables be numbered consecutively in the order in which they appear in the text and that the position of the table in the text be clearly mentioned.
    • Figure and photograph format
      This part of the Instructions must be read very carefully. Some journals have a limit on the number of figures and photographs that can be published. Often, journals will publish a specified number of black and white photographs for free, but will charge for extra photographs exceeding the specified number or for color photographs. The size of the figures, instructions regarding captions and numbering style, file formats accepted, publication charges, and whether a hard copy of the figures and photographs is also required will be clearly mentioned. Some journals specify that figures and photographs should not be embedded in the text file but submitted as individual documents, whereas others allow them to be placed in the main text or after the references. Journals also specify whether photographs will be printed on glossy or matte paper.
    • Equation, unit, and statistics instructions
      Most journals, particularly those in the Physical Sciences, provide instructions on using math and equations in text, rules for writing units (usually SI units are recommended), and guidelines on presenting statistics.
    • Style guides for symbols and other information
      Most journals specify the style or formatting to be used for abbreviations and symbols, drugs, brand names of drugs, microbial names, and more.
    • Manuscript file formats
      Manuscripts are commonly requested to be presented in MS Word, but some journals may accept submissions in LaTex, PDF, EPS, Text, Postscript, or RTF format. If a PDF document is accepted for publication, a Word document will often still be required for the paper to be printed. Some journals specify file size limitations (e.g., individual files should not exceed 1 MB) and file-naming conventions. These guidelines should be followed carefully to avoid delays in the review process or rejection of the manuscript.
    • What should I write in my submission letter?
      Journals like JAMA provide extremely specific Instructions for Authors and even explain how submission letters presented with the manuscript should be written.


In summary, every journal includes formatting rules specific to that periodical. Relevant instructions can be found in the Instructions for Authors included in both the print and online versions of journals. Authors must carefully read these instructions because they explain the article types that are published in the journal, how to submit articles, where to submit articles, article formatting (including of tables, figures and graphs, and references), and other details regarding manuscript length and publication fees.


Reading these instructions may be tedious, but spending time perusing them is highly worthwhile. Following the Instructions will reduce the likelihood of rejection and the amount of time required for the review process.