Search this journal:     Advanced search

Publisher House Style for authors

Please select the applicable link below:

Fonts: Please use standard (UNIcode) fonts such as Palatino, Times New Roman, Helvetica and Symbol. Fonts that have not been embedded will usually be replaced by Courier, resulting in character loss or realignment.

Creatives: Please supply images as the size intended for final publication. Resizing of images is time consuming and can result in loss of quality.

Language usage ↑

General elements

  • Quotations: Use single quotation marks for quotations. For quotations within quotations, use double quotation marks. Quotations of more than 30 words are to be indented. Do not use quotation marks for indented quotations unless it is direct speech (e.g. interviewee responses).
  • En dashes and hyphens: Use an en dash (i.e. extended hyphen that can be found in the Insert box under Symbols in Microsoft Word) in ranges of numbers and dates. Use hyphens only for words that are hyphenated.
  • Dates: Format dates as ‘02 October 2006’, except at the beginning of sentences where numerals and dates should either be spelt out or the sentence should be rearranged.
  • Percentage: The per cent symbol (%) is used in conjunction with all numbers (e.g. 12%). Numbers that have been written out will appear with ‘per cent’ (e.g. five per cent). 'Percentage' is used in a general sense.
  • Numbers: Numbers from one to nine must be written out. Numbers from 10 onwards, must be used as numerals, except at the beginning of a sentence.
  • Spacing and punctuation: There should be one space (and not two) between sentences; one space before unit terms (e.g. 5 kg, 5 cm, 5 mmol, 5 days, 5 °C, etc.), but no space before the percentage symbol (%). Thousands and millions are marked with a space and not a comma (e.g. 1000,    1 000 000). Ranges are expressed with an extended hyphen (i.e. en dash), not with a short hyphen (e.g. 1990–2000).
  • Units: The use of units should conform to the SI convention and be abbreviated accordingly. Metric units and their international symbols are used throughout, as in the decimal point (not the decimal comma), and the 24-hour clock.
  • Foreign language: Foreign language words should be italicised, unless these words are part of normal usage. Consult the Oxford English Dictionary if in doubt.
  • Acronyms: If a phrase with an established acronym or abbreviation is used and appears more than five times in your article, please include the acronym or abbreviation in brackets after first mention of the phrase, and then use the acronym or abbreviation only. Please note that you should not define acronyms or abbreviations in any of your headings. If either has been used in your abstract, you need to define them again on their first usage in the main text.

Sensitive and political terms

  • Race and ethnicity: Try to avoid terms such as 'Blacks' and 'Whites' (please note the use of uppercase letters); use instead ‘Black people’, ‘White people’, etc. 'Caucasian', 'Mongoloid', 'Negroid', etc. are generally to be avoided except in human population studies. 'Mixed race' is preferable to 'half-caste' or 'Coloured'.
  • Disabilities: Avoid using ‘the disabled’, ‘the handicapped’, and instead use  'people with disabilities not 'the disabled' or 'people with learning difficulties’, not 'mentally handicapped'.
  • Disease
    • Avoid health-determined categorisation.
      • Use ‘people with diabetes’; not ‘diabetics’.
      • Use ‘people with cancer’; not ‘cancer sufferers’.
      • Use ‘sexually transmitted infection (STI)’ and not ‘sexually transmitted disease (STD)’.
    • Avoid phrasing that dehumanises a patient. Many authors use case (instance of a disease) when they mean patient (i.e. the person or individual who is ill with the (disease).
  • AIDS
    • Ensure that ‘AIDS’ is used for the disease and ‘HIV’ for the  virus, e.g. do not use ‘AIDS carrier’, ‘AIDS positive’, ‘AIDS virus’ or ‘catching AIDS or HIV/AIDS’ (avoid using the solidus here).  
    • AIDS sufferer/victim’ is inappropriate; use ‘people with AIDS’.  
    • Refer to ‘people who practise high-risk activities’ and not ‘high-risk groups’.
    • The expression ‘full-blown AIDS’ is unnecessary if the correct distinction has been made between HIV and AIDS. 
  • Male versus Female
    • ‘Male’ and ‘female’ are adjectives, so be careful to use them as such (i.e. a male patient and a female frog, but a 35-year-old man, a French woman and a group of 25 men and 35 women).  
  • Sexuality: Avoid the terms ‘homosexual activities’ (if achievable within the manuscript’s context, specify which activity is being referred to, especially when dealing with medical research.) Avoid using ‘homosexuals’ (specify homosexual men or homosexual women). 
  • Gender: Use gender neutral nouns. Avoid the use of ‘man’ if not specifically referring to men; for example: 
    • for ‘man’ use ‘humans’ 
    • for ‘man-kind’ use ‘the human race’  
    • for ‘man-power’ use ‘workforce’  
    • for ‘man-made fibre’ use ‘synthetic fibre’ 
  • ‘He/she’, ‘him/her’ and ‘his/hers’: For ‘he/she’, ‘him/her’ and ‘his/hers’ rather use ‘he or she’, ‘her or him’, ‘his or hers’ (without a solidus) or change to plural ‘they’. Use inclusive pronouns: use ‘he or she’, or rephrase the sentence (rephrasing to the plural form often works): 

✗ … Any observer of changes in publishing technology will perceive that he has need of… 

✓ … Observers of… will perceive that they have…

Beware of referring to people with stereotypical pronouns (e.g. ‘the doctor treated his patient’; ‘the secretary tidied her desk’).

  • Geography
    • The terms Third Worldpoor countries and underdeveloped countries should be avoided.
    • Developing or non-developed country/society is better, but it is best to specify countries or regions instead.
    • Western society and Western World should only be used in relation to geography; otherwise, use developed world/society or, even better, specify the countries themselves or the region. 

Tables, figures and photographs 

In Step 4 of the online submission process, upload all tables, figures, images, and supplementary files. Tables should be saved and uploaded as separate Excel (.xls) files with no more than 10 figures and tables in total per article. Ensure that all personal identifying information is removed from the supplementary files as indicated in the provided instructions. All captions should be provided together on a separate page. Tables and figures should use numerical numbers.

  • Organise your visual presentation: Once you have read through the analyses and decided how best to present each table or figure, think about how you will arrange them within the article. The analyses should tell a story’ that leads the reader through the steps needed to logically answer the question(s) that you as author are posing in the Introduction. The order in which you present the results can be as important in convincing the readers as what you actually are saying in the text.
  • How to refer to tables and figures in the text: Every figure and table included in the paper must be referred to in the body of the text. Use sentences that draw the reader's attention to the relationship or trend you wish to highlight, referring to the appropriate figure or table only in parenthesis e.g.:
    • Germination rates were significantly higher after 24 h in running water than in controls (Figure 4).
    • DNA sequence homologies for the purple gene from the four congeners (Table 1) show high similarity, differing by at most 4 base pairs. (Avoid sentences that give no information other than directing the reader to the figure or table, e.g. Table 1 shows the summary results for male and female heights at Bates College.)
  • Abbreviation of the word ‘Figure’:  When referring to a figure in the text, the word ‘figure’ is never abbreviated as ‘Fig.’; the same rule applies to the usage of ‘table’. Both words are spelled out completely in descriptive legends. 
  • How to number tables and figures: Figures and tables are numbered independently, in the sequence in which you refer to them in the text, starting with Figure 1 and Table 1. If, in revision, you change the presentation sequence of the figures and tables, you must renumber them to reflect the new sequence.
  • The acid test for tables and figures: Any table or figure you present must be clear, well-labelled, and described by its legend to be understood by your intended audience without reading the results section. That is, it must be able to stand alone and be  interpretable. Overly complicated figures or tables may be difficult to understand in or out of context, so strive for simplicity whenever possible. 
  • Descriptive legends or captions: To pass the acid test above, a clear and complete legend (sometimes called a caption) is essential. Like the title of the article itself, each legend should convey as much information as possible about what the table or figure intends to tell the reader:
    • the results that are being shown in the graph(s), including the summary statistics plotted 
    • the organism studied in the experiment (if applicable)
    • a context for the results: the treatment applied or the relationship displayed, etc. 
    • location (only if a field experiment)
    • specific explanatory information needed to interpret the results shown (in tables, this is frequently done as footnotes) 
    • culture parameters or conditions if applicable (temperature, media, etc.)
    • sample sizes and statistical test summaries, as they apply

Do not simply restate the axis labels with a ‘versus’ written in between. 

Example:  Figure 1: Height frequency (%) of White Pines (Pinusstrobus) in the Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary, Lewiston, Maine, before and after the Ice Storm of 1998. Before, n = 137, after, n = 133. Four trees fell during the storm and were excluded from the post-storm survey. 

Note: Questions frequently arise about how much methodology to include in the legend, and how much results reporting should be done. For laboratory reports, specific results should be reported in the results text with a reference to the applicable table or figure. Other than culture conditions, methods are similarly confined to the Methods section.

Footnotes to tables, figures and photographs

Do not introduce footnotes in the body of the article. Footnotes should be used as follows:

  • Copyright and permissions to reproduce should be clearly stated.
  • Notes about the table as a whole can be left unlinked (i.e. no linking letters or numbers or symbols) or linked to, for example, a relevant column heading. 
  • Notes about specific parts of the table should be linked using superscript lower case letters (preferred), superscript numbers or symbols. 
  • If lower case letters are used, it could be confused with the table data; use symbols or numbers instead. 
  • Do not make use of superscript numbers in parentheses (brackets). 
  • If an abbreviation is mentioned for the first time in a table (e.g. ‘CE’ in Table 1), it must be defined in a footnote to that table,  (e.g. HE, Heat event (introduced at weekly intervals).
  • Asterisk footnotes are reserved for probability values in tables and usually signify the following values: *, p ≤ 0.05; **, p ≤ 0.01; ***, p ≤ 0.001. The asterisk is often used in mathematics and should therefore be avoided as a footnote symbol.
  • Footnote links should be placed after punctuation. The preferred order of footnote symbols in tables (which should be superscripted) is  †, ‡, §, ¶ (these are doubled if more footnotes are needed, e.g. ††). 
  • When superscript numbers or letters are used in text, beware of potential confusion with other superscripts (e.g. 2 for ‘squared’). 
  • Footnotes should be in the following order:  
    • source notes 
    • other general notes 
    • notes on specific parts of the table (following the order in the table itself) 
    • notes on level of probability 

Guidance on submitting creatives electronically

Supply your manuscript creatives  in one of the following three preferred formats:

  • TIFF: This is an image made up of pixels and is the most universal and most widely supported format across Windows and Mac platforms. Most graphics packages can save a file as a TIFF. The higher the resolution (i.e. the number of pixels) the sharper the final image.   
    • Colour or greyscale photographic images: 300dpi
    • Line art or combination images: 600/900dpi
    • We would recommend using this format for photographic images.
  • EPS: An EPS is essentially an envelope for holding text and images. Line art can be produced as an EPS (in Illustrator, for example). There are virtually no limits to scaling line art saved as an EPS. It can also contain TIFF images. However, please ensure that all fonts are embedded (that is, saved as outlines) and that line weights are not defined as hairline.
  • PDF: This format is, again, like an EPS in that it is an envelope for holding different kinds of images and line art. Great care should be taken to ensure that fonts are embedded and that original images are at the correct size and resolution before being saved as a PDF. It is possible to save or export as TIFF or EPS from most graphics applications, just as it is possible to save direct to a PDF from most graphics packages by using a postscript printer driver. PDF creation packages (e.g. Acrobat Distiller) are also now widely available.

Other file formats

  • JPEG: A JPEG compressed TIFF is acceptable as long as the degree of compression is moderate. It is better to use a JPEG for online images as a good quality image is achievable even with a high degree of compression.
  • GIF: A format suitable for images that contain few colours. Again, this should only be used for images intended for the web.
  • We cannot guarantee the quality of images supplied in other formats.


  • Greyscale, CMYK, RGB.
  • Greyscale art should be saved in greyscale mode.
  • CyanMagentaYellowBlack are the base colours used during the printing process.
  • Any colour that is to appear in print must be in CMYK mode.
  • RedGreenBlue are the colours used by monitors and default scanner settings. Any colour that is to appear online must be in RGB mode.

Guidelines for Math ↑

  • Set display equations in MathType. Each display equation should be in its own MathType object. Each MathType object should contain the entire equation, including final punctuation. The equation number should be set as Microsoft Word regular text, outside the MathType object, separated by either a tab or a space.
  • Set in-text (inline) math in Microsoft Word regular text. Exception: If in-text (inline) math has elements that should be stacked or have rules, circumflexes, arrows, or other accents spanning over more than one character, set in MathType as ‘Inline Equation.’
  • If any characters cannot be found in Word’s Symbol palette (‘(normal text),’  ‘Times New Roman,’ or ‘Symbol’), please set in MathType.
  • No display equations are allowed in figure captions, table titles, or table footnotes. If a display equation occurs in a text footnote, it is best to recast it as inline math. There are a few journals with lengthy footnotes with style exceptions to this rule.
  • No numbered equations are allowed in table footnotes.
  • Display and/or numbered equations ARE allowed in table body, but must be ‘inline’ when converted to MathML equations.

ISSN: 1609-9982 (print) | ISSN: 2074-7705 (online)

Connect on: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube

Subscribe to our newsletter

All articles published in this journal are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license, unless otherwise stated.

Website design & content: ©2018 AOSIS (Pty) Ltd. All rights reserved. No unauthorised duplication allowed.

AOSIS Publishing | Empowering Africa through access to knowledge
Postnet Suite #110, Private Bag X19, Durbanville, South Africa, 7551
Tel: 086 1000 381 
Tel: +27 21 975 2602 
Fax: 086 5004 974

publishing(AT) replace (AT) with @

Please read the privacy statement.