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Journals, agree on manuscript format

Nature volume 540, page 525 (22 December 2016) | Download Citation


An 'incorrectly' formatted manuscript submission risks immediate bounceback by the authors' chosen journal, irrespective of the value of its content. In my view, it would save time and frustration if the scientific community could agree on a uniform style for all journals.

There is no inherent advantage in customized formatting of references, for example, whether cited as F. R. Smith, P. Y. Young and G. T. Jones J. Interest. Sci. 2016, 85, 6700–6782, or as Smith, FR, Young, PY, Jones, GT (2016) J. Interest. Sci. 85: 6700–6782, or using other arbitrary variants in style and positioning of initials, year of publication and page span.

Research papers in the natural sciences are typically presented under the headings Abstract, Introduction, Methodology, Results, Discussion, Conclusions. Some journals do not use Abstract or Introduction headings; some put the Methodology section after the rest. No journal so far puts the title at the end of the paper.

Journals presumably insist on individual formatting styles as a distinguishing feature. I see no scientific merit in doing so. Cosmetic treatments should instead be reserved for enhancing the clarity of a manuscript's content.

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  1. University of Birmingham, UK.

    • Quanmin Guo


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Correspondence to Quanmin Guo.

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