Barrick Lab Style Guide

Writing a Scientific Paper

General Formatting

  • Use a single space after a period between sentences.
  • Use 1/4" indentions instead of 1/2" indentions to start new paragraphs.


  • Use Mendeley to organize your citations and insert them into word processing documents.
  • If you aren't formatting for submission to a specific journal, use the Nature Reviews Genetics style.
  • To add italics to species names in downloaded citation titles, add HTML italics tags around them.
    • e.g. Escherichia coli to <i>Escherichia coli</i>
  • If Mendeley fails to automatically detect citation information when you import a PDF or use the Google scholar search by title option, the best way to correct this information without typing it in is to search for the article in PubMed, copy the PubMed ID (PMID) number into the "Catalog IDs" section in Mendeley, and hit the magnifying glass icon.
  • You will generally need to manually correct the journal names from downloaded papers to their standard abbreviations.
    • e.g. Journal of Bacteriology to J. Bact.
    • Find the standard abbreviation using CAS or other resources.

Figures and Graphs

  • Create figures in a vector graphics program (e.g., Adobe Illustrator).
  • Always include a legend for symbols within a figure, NOT just in the figure caption.
  • Unlike the defaults in Microsoft Excel:
    • Enclose the data frame of a graph in a full box.
    • Generally, do not include any grid lines on graphs.
    • Do not use shadow effects.
  • Use 95% confidence intervals, rather than standard deviations for error bars.
  • Neaten up graphs created in Excel or other formats for publication by saving them as PDFs, importing into Adobe Illustrator, and using this to adjust line widths, labels, aspect ratios, add additional details, etc. (Be careful to not change the locations of data points or error bars relative to axis ticks during this process, obviously).


Use Unicode symbols instead of symbol font. They work much better cross-platform. You can generally copy-paste from this website.

Main: Unicode Website | Search
Groups of symbols: Punctuation | Arrows | Math

Edit | Attach | Print version | History: r12 | r9 < r8 < r7 < r6 | Backlinks | Raw View | Raw edit | More topic actions...

 Barrick Lab  >  ProtocolList  >  ProtocolsStyleGuide

Topic revision: r7 - 24 Dec 2012 - 15:51:19 - Main.JeffreyBarrick
This site is powered by the TWiki collaboration platformCopyright ©2018 Barrick Lab contributing authors. Ideas, requests, problems? Send feedback