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Guidelines for Preparing Manuscripts



Manuscripts must be submitted double-spaced on 8 ½ x 11-inch paper with the lines numbered. Type JCS and page number as a footer at the bottom of each page. A typical paper includes the following sections: 1) Cover Page that includes authors’ names and mailing addresses, any Acknowledgements and/or Disclaimers, and a List of Abbreviations 2) Blind Cover Page with only the manuscript’s title, 3) Abstract, 4) Keywords, 5) Introduction, 6) Materials and Methods, 7) Results and Discussion, 8) References, 9) Tables, 10) List of Captions for Figures, and 11) Figures.

Cover Pages. Begin the page with the title of the manuscript followed by the discipline (one of 9 academic disciplines listed above under Author Instructions, e.g., Discipline: Engineering & Ginning). List all authors with their complete addresses. Do not include titles of authors. Include an e-mail address and phone and fax numbers for the corresponding author. Include on this page any brief statements of financial support, or other acknowledgments, and disclaimers. See Cover Page Example (45K PDF). Include a second cover page with only a title (Blind Cover Page).

Abbreviations. List nonstandard abbreviations and their identities at the bottom of the cover page following the authors’ addresses and any acknowledgments or disclaimers. Do not include standard abbreviations, SI units, or chemical element symbols in this list.

Abstract. Abstracts are required and are limited to a single paragraph of 250 words or fewer than 1500 characters. Include your rationale, objective(s), methods, results, and a conclusion. Be specific. Do not cite figures, tables, or references. Submit the abstract in bold type. Consult the Guidelines for Preparing Abstracts.

Keywords. Authors should identify a minimum of three keywords that direct the readers to major subjects discussed in the manuscript.List keywords in alphabetical order.

Materials and Methods and Validation of Results. Materials and methods, including statistical methods, should provide sufficient detail to allow other scientists to repeat the research. Often a separate subheading in the Materials and Methods for statistical methods is warranted. Give enough detail in the statistics that a reviewer can readily determine the validity of the data and interested parties could base additional experimentation upon your research.

Identify the experimental design and arrangement of treatments. Describe the randomization and provide the number of replicates and observations. Data must be analyzed with statistical procedures appropriate to your experimental design. Cite the computer program used to conduct the analysis in the text. Authors are encouraged to consult a statistician before designing the experiment and analyzing the data.

For a more detailed explanation, refer to the Publications Handbook and Style Manual 1.

Equations. Use the equation generator of your word processor to insert equations in the text, or insert the equations as images.

Figures. Embed each figure on a separate page at end of the manuscript. Number figures in the order of occurrence in the manuscript. Do not include captions with the figure. List captions for all figures on separate page(s) at the end of the manuscript. Captions should be brief, but describe the figure so that it is self-explanatory without referring to the text. Describe items in graphs and charts with legends or keys, not in the caption.

  1. Photographic Images. Send electronic JPG or TIFF formats of images (plants, equipment, people, etc.). Set the compression in JPGs to the minimum.
  2. Graphs and Line Art. Keep graph backgrounds white and avoid borders. Papers accepted for publication must include either WMF, EMF, Adobe Illustrator, or EPS files of graphs and line drawings. Use colors, patterns, and shadings judiciously so that plots are discernible to readers both online (in color) and as hard copy (in shades of gray) for readers who download and print graphs from the PDF files. Place legends inside the plot area. Include axis labels for each graph within figures that contain multiple graphs. Figures of accepted papers may be resized to fit one or two column widths. The ability to visualize all vital information in the figure will determined the final width.

Tables. Use the table generator of your word processor to construct tables. Do not use tabs or the space bar to create columns. Do not submit tables as images. Do not include the table title or footnotes as rows within the table. Vertical and horizontal lines are not permitted in the data fields. Indicate levels of significance and other necessary information in footnote. Designate footnotes with superscript lower case letters starting with the letter “Z” and go backwards alphabetically. Submit the entire table in bold type.

Cite tables in order in the manuscript. Tables should be self-explanatory without referring to the text. Do not repeat data in the text that are given in the table or figure. Table titles should clearly summarize the data presented in the table. Headings in the table should be brief. Place each table on a separate page at the end of the manuscript following the references.

References. References should be presented in the textusing the author-year citation. References may include published and unpublished reports, abstracts, theses, and dissertations. Most of the references should be current and from peer-reviewed journals. Unpublished information should be used sparingly. Cite any reference to unpublished materials not available to the public parenthetically in the text (J. Doe, unpublished or J. Jones, personal communication). The author must submit a letter from the source of a personal communication with the manuscript that gives permission to use the information. Include names of all authors, year, complete title, publication, volume, and inclusive pages in journal references. For books, cite all author names, editor, year, complete title, publisher, and place of publication. Give the place and date of the conference for proceedings, as well as their publisher and place of publication. List references in alphabetic order by the first author’s surname. When citing references by the same author, list single author references first. The sequence of presentation is determined by alphabetizing first author’s surname, then consecutive author’s surnames, and by year of publication (most recent first). See Guidelines for References for additional details and examples.


Submitted papers must conform to accepted standards of English style and usage (1).

Abbreviations and Symbols. Minimize the use of nonstandard abbreviations to terms used frequently in the text. Identify nonstandard abbreviations upon first mention in the text by spelling out the term and placing the abbreviation in parentheses. In tables, identify the abbreviations in a footnote using lower case letters in superscript. Common abbreviations, SI units, or chemical element symbols do not require definitions. Use % with numbers, but write out percentage without numbers.

Scientific Nomenclature. Organisms (plant, animal, or microbe) may be referred to by common names, but reference the Latin binomial and authority upon first mention in the body of the manuscript. Cultivar is preferred over variety. Unless cultivar is clearly identified by the word cultivar or the abbreviation cv., use single quotation marks at first mention. Identify soils by giving the subgroup according to the US system of soil taxonomy (see Give the common name for chemicals. Thereafter, use the common or generic name. When the chemical species is not specified, do not include ionic charges (NH4, SO4). When the valence state of the ion is identified in the text, indicate the charge number followed by the plus (+) or minus (-) as a superscript.

Pesticides, Seed, and Scientific Apparatus. Follow the names of proprietary materials, including seed, and equipment by the manufacturer’s (or source’s) name and address (city and state [US] or country) in parentheses. Cite computer software in the text and give the manufacturer’s name and address (city and state [US] or country) in parentheses. Also include the version or release of the program. Use common or generic names for pesticides. Include brand names, formulation, manufacturer, city, and state or country parenthetically after the first mention of a pesticide.

Numerals. Use numerals with units of measure. Otherwise, write out numbers one through nine and numbers at the beginning of a sentence. Use a zero before the decimal point in decimal fractions less than one (e.g., 0.3 rather than .3). Use commas to group numbers into three digit groups (e.g., 10,000 rather than 10 000). Four digit numbers are set solid (e.g., 1000). Round treatment means to 1/10 of their estimated standard error. For example, an estimated standard error of 1.33 requires rounding the means to the nearest 0.1. In the text, use the word to between numerals, not a dash “-“, to indicate ranges. A dash may be used in tables, figure labels and captions, and within parentheses, or for a single season spanning two calendar years.

Time and Dates. Record time using four digits (e.g., 1900 h for 7:00 p.m.). Record dates with the day, the month, and the year (e.g., 20 June 1997). Abbreviate day (d), week (wk), month (mo), year (yr), second (s), minute (min), and hour (h) only if preceded by a number.

Units of Measure. The International System of Units (SI) is required. Authors may choose to place other commonly used units in parentheses. A detailed explanation of acceptable units and exceptions is provided in the Publications Handbook and Style Manual 1.


  1. Publications handbook and style manual. 1998. 4th ed. ASA, CSSA, and SSSA, Madison, WI. [Copies are available from American Society of Agronomy/ Crop Science Society of America/ Soil Science Society of America at 677 South Segoe Road, Madison, WI53711. ISBN 0-89118-138-3.]