Submitting a manuscript for journal publication requires an author to strictly follow guidelines suggested by the journals. Failing to follow guidelines leads to the rejection of the manuscript, which is obviously undesirable for any author. Therefore, it is imperative that these formatting guidelines are followed very carefully before submitting an article.
Here are some key pointers to be aware of while formatting a manuscript as per journal guidelines.
The structure of the manuscript: Check carefully the different sections and structure required by the journal for submission. Journals often have specific instructions for Cover page, Excerpts, Executive summary, Abstract, Appendix, References, etc. Not all journals ask for all such sections. For instance, one journal may request for a short abstract, while others may ask for a bit longer executive summary. It is important to follow these instructions as per requirements. Usually, all journals require a cover letter along with the submission as well. Follow instructions on the format for a cover letter if specified.
Referencing: A critical component of any academic article is its references. Strictly follow referencing guidelines of a journal as prescribed in the guidelines. Some journals may request inline referencing, references in footnotes, while others may request for end text references. Moreover, the format of referencing is also critical. There are some general conventions of referencing and most authors are well versed in them. However, it is imperative that you follow the one specified by the journal for its manuscripts.
Formatting: every journal has specific instructions for formatting. Often, journals have different formatting requirements for different stages of the manuscript. For instance. Some journals may request double spacing for the manuscript they require for peer review, while the final print document may be single spacing. Font, font size, spacing, paragraph specifications are some of the key focus areas for formatting.
Diagrams and tables: diagrams and tables are an integral part of a scientific publication, and often manuscripts have a plethora of them. Check the title requirement, size requirement, formatting details for charts, etc for diagrams. A common mistake often done by authors is about the colours used in their diagrams and charts. If the journal does not support coloured printing, your charts and diagrams have to design in black and grey monochrome. You not only have to careful to change the colour tone as per requirements but also ensure the charts and diagrams are distinctive and easy to read in those colour tones.
Word Count: The importance of word count needs to be reiterated. Every section of the manuscript may have word counts and need to be adhered to. If the journal asks for an abstract of 250 words; you need to draft an abstract within 250 words. The same applies for every section, chapter, etc. as may be specified.
Most importantly, read the instructions for each journal carefully. Authors often rehash one submission for another journal; so be careful not to mix up the instructions. The same article for different journals needs to be formatted from scratch to meets each journal’s specific requirements.