Instructions for preparing an initial manuscript

Format and style of main manuscript

Format and style of supplementary material

Preparation of figures

Science Citation Style

Information on manuscript types, including length constraints, can be found on our general information for authors page. The instructions below apply to an initial submission. For a manuscript submitted after peer-review and revision, the same style guidelines apply, but we require slightly different file preparation – see instructions specific to a revised manuscript.

Format and style of main manuscript

For the main manuscript, Science prefers to receive a single complete file that includes all figures and tables in Word’s .docx format (Word 2007, 2010, or 2008 or 2011 for a Mac) - download a copy of our Word template here. The Supplementary Material should be submitted as a single separate file in .docx or PDF format To aid in the organization of Supplementary Materials, we recommend using or following the Microsoft Word template supplied here.

LaTeX users should use our LaTeX template and either convert files to Microsoft Word .docx or submit a PDF file [see our LaTeX instructions here].

Use double spacing throughout the text, tables, figure legends, and References and Notes. Electronic files should be formatted for U.S. letter paper. Technical terms should be defined. Symbols, abbreviations, and acronyms should be defined the first time they are used. All tables and figures should be cited in numerical order. For best results use Times and Symbol fonts only.

Manuscripts should be assembled in the following order:

(For easy accurate assembly, download a copy of our Word template here.)

So that we can easily identify the parts of your paper, even if you do not use our template, please begin each section with the specific key words listed below, some of which are followed by a colon. Several of these headings are optional, for example, not all papers will include tables, or supplementary material. Please do not use paragraph breaks in the title, author list, or abstract.

One Sentence Summary:
Main Text:
References and Notes

Acknowledgements: List of Supplementary materials:
Fig. #:
(Begin each figure caption with a label, “Fig. 1.” for example, as a new paragraph) (or Scheme #)
Table #: (Begin each table caption with a label “Table 1.”, etc. as a new paragraph)
Supplementary Materials:

Titles should be no more than 96 characters (including spaces).

One-sentence summaries capturing the most important point should be submitted for Research Articles, Reports and Reviews. These should be a maximum of 125 characters and should complement rather than repeat the title

Authors and their affiliated institutions, linked by superscript numbers, should be listed beneath the title on the opening page of the manuscript.

Abstracts of Research Articles and Reports should explain to the general reader why the research was done, what was found and why the results are important. They should start with some brief BACKGROUND information: a sentence giving a broad introduction to the field comprehensible to the general reader, and then a sentence of more detailed background specific to your study. This should be followed by an explanation of the OBJECTIVES/METHODS and then the RESULTS. The final sentence should outline the main CONCLUSIONS of the study, in terms that will be comprehensible to all our readers. The Abstract is distinct from the main body of the text, and thus should not be the only source of background information critical to understanding the manuscript. Please do not include citations or abbreviations in the Abstract. The abstract should be 125 words or less. For Perspectives and Policy Forums please include a one-sentence abstract.

Main Text is not divided into sub-headings for Reports. Subheadings are used only in Research Articles, and Reviews. Use descriptive clauses, not full sentences. Two levels of subheadings may be used if warranted; please distinguish them clearly. The manuscript should start with a brief introduction describing the paper’s significance. The introduction should provide sufficient background information to make the article intelligible to readers in other disciplines, and sufficient context that the significance of the experimental findings is clear. Technical terms should be defined. Symbols, abbreviations, and acronyms should be defined the first time they are used. All tables and figures should be cited in numerical order. All data must be shown either in the main text or in the Supplementary Materials or must be available in an established database with accession details provided in the acknowledgements section. References to unpublished materials are not allowed to substantiate significant conclusions of the paper.

References and Notes are numbered in the order in which they are cited, first through the text, then through the figure and table legends and finally through Supplementary Materials. Place citation numbers for references and notes within parentheses, italicized: (18, 19) (18-20) (18, 20-22). There should be only one reference list covering citations in the paper and Supplementary Materials. We will include the full reference list online, but references found only in the Supplementary Materials will be suppressed in print. Each reference should have a unique number; do not combine references or embed references in notes. Any references to in-press manuscripts at the time of submission should be given a number in the text and placed, in correct sequence, in the references and notes. We do not allow citation to personal communications, and unpublished or “in press” references are not allowed at the time of publication. Do not use op. cit., ibid., or et al. (in place of the complete list of authors' names). Notes should be used for information aimed at the specialist (e.g., procedures) or to provide definitions or further information to the general reader that are not essential to the data or arguments. Notes can cite other references (by number). Journal article references should be complete, including the full list of authors, the full titles, and the inclusive pagination. Titles are displayed in the online HTML version, but not in the print or the PDF versions of papers. See Science Citation Style below for details of citation style.

Acknowledgments should be gathered into a paragraph after the final numbered reference. This section should also include complete funding information, a listing of any competing interests of any of the authors (all authors must also fill out the Conflict of Interest form), a statement indicating or describing where the data reported in the paper are available including accession numbers, (for example, “The data reported in this paper are tabulated in the Supplementary Materials and archived at the following databases….”), and an optional note describing the roles or responsibilities of the authors.

List of Supplementary Materials At the end of the references, list your supplementary items as shown below.

Supplementary Materials
Materials and Methods
Table S1 – S2
Fig S1 – S4
References (26 – 32)
Movie S1

Tables should be included after the references and should supplement, not duplicate, the text. They should be called out within the text and numbered in the order of their citation in the text. The first sentence of the table legend should be a brief descriptive title. Every vertical column should have a heading, consisting of a title with the unit of measure in parentheses. Units should not change within a column. Footnotes should contain information relevant to specific entries or parts of the table.

Figure legends should be double-spaced in numerical order. A short figure title should be given as the first line of the legend. No single legend should be longer than 200 words. Nomenclature, abbreviations, symbols, and units used in a figure should match those used in the text. Any individually labeled figure parts or panels (A, B, etc.) should be specifically described by part name within the legend.

Figures should be called out within the text. Figures should be numbered in the order of their citation in the text. For initial submission, Figures should be embedded directly in the .docx or PDF manuscript file. See below for detailed instructions on preparation of and preferred formats for your figures. Schemes (e.g., structural chemical formulas) can have very brief legends or no legend at all. Schemes should be sequentially numbered in the same fashion as figures.

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Format and Style of Supplementary Materials

Supplementary Materials (SM) are posted permanently at the Science web sites, are linked to the manuscript, and are freely available. Supplementary Materials must be essential to the scientific integrity and excellence of the paper. The material is subject to the same editorial standards and peer-review procedures as the print publication. To aid in the organization of Supplementary Materials, we recommend using or following the Microsoft Word template supplied here.

In general the Supplementary Materials may comprise

  • Materials and Methods: The materials and methods section should provide sufficient information to allow replication of the results. It should be cited at relevant points in the text using a citation number that refers to a note in the reference list that reads “Materials and methods are available as supplementary materials at the Science website.” Include a section titled Experimental Design at the beginning of materials and methods in which the objectives and design of the study, as well as prespecified components, are described. See Experimental Design and Statistics Guidelines below for details. In addition, include a section titled Statistical Analysis at the end that fully describes the statistical methods with enough detail to enable a knowledgeable reader with access to the original data to verify the results. The values for N, P, and the specific statistical test performed for each experiment should be included in the appropriate figure legend or main text. See Experimental Design and Statistics Guidelines below for details.

  • Supplementary Text: Additional information regarding control or supplemental experiments, field sites, observations, hypotheses, etc., that bear directly on the arguments of the print paper. Further discussion or development of arguments beyond those in the main text is not permitted in supplementary text. This can be referred to in the main text as “supplementary text” with no reference note required.

  • Figures: Figures that cannot be accommodated in the print version but that are integral to the paper’s arguments. Figures should meet the same standards as print figures. See below These are numbered starting at 1, with the prefix S (eg Fig S1) All figures should be called out in the main text, No reference note is required.

  • Tables: Extensive data tables useful in assessing the arguments of the print paper. Authors wishing to post presentations of data more complex than flat text files or tables that can be converted to PDF format need to consult with their editor.

  • Multimedia files: Online video clips should be in QuickTime (preferred) or AVI format; MPEG movies may also be acceptable. For Quicktime h264 compression is the preferred format. Authors should opt for the minimum frame size and number of images that are consistent with a reasonably effective on-screen presentation. Animated GIFs are not accepted. Authors should submit online videos or movies with accompanying captions. For audio files WAV, AIFF, or AU formats are accepted.

  • References only cited in the supplementary materials should be included at the end of the reference section of the main text, and the reference numbering should continue as if the Supplementary Materials was a continuation of the main text.

Both at initial submission, and at the revision stage, authors should submit the supplementary sections, materials and methods, text, tables and figures, as a single docx or PDF file that should not exceed 25 MB. For ease of reading, the text and tables should be single spaced; figures should be individually numbered, and each figure should have its legend on the page on which the figure appears, immediately beneath the figure. Other supplementary materials such as video clips and Excel files too large to be embedded in the main document can be uploaded separately. At initial submission there is a total maximum file size of 25 MB for all such auxiliary files combined and no more than 10 auxiliary files can be uploaded. If you have files essential to the evaluation of your manuscript that exceed these limits, please contact . See Submitting your manuscript for further details on how to submit.

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Preparation of Figures

Creating your figures It is best to create your figures as vector-based files such as those produced by Adobe Illustrator. Vector-based files will give us maximum flexibility for sizing your figures properly without losing resolution, as they can be altered in size while maintaining high print-quality resolution. We cannot accept PowerPoint files or files that are not readable by Adobe Photoshop, Macromedia Freehand, or Adobe Illustrator. To keep file sizes reasonable, please save art at a resolution of 150 to 300 dots per inch (dpi) for initial submission. A higher resolution applies for figures submitted at the revision stage - see instructions for preparing a revised manuscript. Digital color art should be submitted as CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) rather than RGB (Red, Green, Blue).

Paper The width of figures, when printed, will usually be 5.5 cm (2.25 inches or 1 column) or 12.0 cm (4.75 inches or 2 columns). Bar graphs, simple line graphs, and gels may be reduced to a smaller width. Symbols and lettering should be large enough to be legible after reduction [a reduced size of about 7 points (2 mm) high, and not smaller than 5 points]. Avoid wide variation in type size within a single figure. In laying out information in a figure, the objective is to maximize the space given to presentation of the data. Avoid wasted white space and clutter.

  • The figure’s title should be at the beginning of the figure legend, not in the figure itself.

  • Include the figure’s identifying number (e.g., “Fig. 1”) on the same manuscript page that includes the figure.

  • Keys to symbols, if needed, should be kept as simple as possible and be positioned so they do not needlessly enlarge the figure. Details can be put into the captions.

  • Use solid symbols for plotting data if possible (unless data overlap or there are multiple symbols). Size symbols so that they will be distinguishable when the figure is reduced (6 pt minimum). Line widths should be legible upon reduction (minimum of 0.5 pt at the final reduced size).

  • Panels should be set close to each other, and common axis labels should not be repeated.

  • Scales or axes should not extend beyond the range of the data plotted.

  • Use scale bars in place of, or in addition to, magnifications. Do not use minor tick marks in scales or grid lines. Avoid using y-axis labels on the right that repeat those on the left.

Color-mix and contrast considerations

  • Avoid using red and green together. Color blind individuals will not be able read the figure.

  • Please do not use colors that are close in hue to identify different parts of a figure.

  • Avoid using grayscale.

  • Use white type and scale bars over darker areas of images.

  • Units should be metric and follow SI convention.

Typefaces and labels

  • Please observe the following guidelines for labels on graphs and figures:

  • Use a sans-serif font whenever possible (we prefer Helvetica).

  • Simple solid or open symbols reduce well.

  • Label graphs on the ordinate and abscissa with the parameter or variable being measured, the units of measure in parentheses, and the scale. Scales with large or small numbers should be presented as powers of 10.

  • Avoid the use of light lines and screen shading. Instead, use black-and-white, hatched, and cross-hatched designs for emphasis.

  • Capitalize the first letter in a label only, not every word (and proper nouns, of course).

  • Units should be included in parentheses. Use SI notation. If there is room, write out variables – e.g., Pressure (MPa), Temperature (K).

  • Variables are always set in italics or as plain Greek letters (e.g., P, T, m). The rest of the text in the figure should be plain or bold text.

  • Type on top of color in a color figure should be in bold face. Avoid using color type.

  • When figures are assembled from multiple gels or micrographs, a line or space should indicate the border between two original images.

  • Use leading zeros on all decimals – e.g., 0.3, 0.55 – and only report significant digits.

  • Use capital letters for part labels in multipart figures – A, B, C, etc. These should be 9 pt and bold in the final figure. When possible, place part labels at the upper left-hand corner of each figure part; if a part is an image, set labels inside the perimeter so as not to waste space.

  • Avoid subpart labels within a figure part; instead, maintain the established sequence of part labels [e.g., use A, B, C, D, E instead of A, B, C(a), C(b), C©]. If use of subpart labels is unavoidable, use lowercase letters (a, b, c). Use numbers (1, 2, 3) only to represent a time sequence of images.

  • When reproducing images that include labels with illegible computer-generated type (e.g., units for scale bars), omit such labels and present the information in the legend instead.

  • Sequences may be reduced considerably, so the typeface in the original should be clear. There should be about 130 characters and spaces per line for a sequence occupying the full width of the printed page and about 84 characters and spaces per line for a sequence occupying two columns.

Modification of figures Science does not allow certain electronic enhancements or manipulations of micrographs, gels, or other digital images. Figures assembled from multiple photographs or images, or non-concurrent portions of the same image, must indicate the separate parts with lines between them. Linear adjustment of contrast, brightness, or color must be applied to an entire image or plate equally. Nonlinear adjustments must be specified in the figure legend. Selective enhancement or alteration of one part of an image is not acceptable. In addition, Science may ask authors of papers returned for revision to provide additional documentation of their primary data.

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Science Citation Style

For journal articles, list initials first for all authors, separated by a space (e.g., A. B. Opus, B. C. Hobbs). Do not use “and.” Titles of cited articles should be included (lowercase except for the first word and proper nouns), followed by a period (see examples below). Journal titles are in italics; volume numbers follow, in boldface. (If there is no volume number, use the publication year in its place.) Do not place a comma before the volume number or before any parentheses. You may provide the full inclusive pages of the article. If the publication is online only, use the article number (or citation number) instead of the page. Journal years are in parentheses: (1996). End each listing with a period. Do not use “ibid.” or ”op. cit.” (these cannot be linked online).

For whole books, the style for author or editor names is as above; for edited books, insert “Ed.,” or “Eds.,” before the title. Italicize the book title and use “title case” (see examples below). After the title, provide (in parentheses) the publisher name, edition number (if any), and year. If the book is part of a series, indicate this after the title (e.g., vol. 23 of Springer Series in Molecular Biology).

For chapters in edited books, the style is as above, except that “in” appears before the title, and the names of the editors appear after the title. The chapter title may be provided before the book title; enclose chapter titles in quotes and use initial caps. After the information in parentheses, provide the complete page number range (and/or chapter number) of the cited material.

For monographs, memos, or reports, the style for author or editor names is as above. The title should be in quotes and should have initial caps. After the title, provide (in parentheses) the report number (if applicable), publisher name, and year. If these are unavailable, or if the work is unpublished, please provide all information needed for a reader to locate the work; this may include a URL or a Web or FTP address. Monographs in series (such as AGU Monogr.) may be treated as journals.

For unpublished proceedings or symposia, supply the title of meeting, location, inclusive dates, and sponsoring organization. Also include the abstract number (if applicable). There is no need to supply the total page count.

For a thesis, name the school but not the degree; we do not use “dissertation,” “Ph.D.,” “Master’s,” or other specifics. Name the city if the university could be mistaken for another. It is optional to include the thesis title.

For research first published in Science First Release, online journals, and preprints available on the Internet, see the examples below. These are considered published work.



  1. 1. N. Tang, On the equilibrium partial pressures of nitric acid and ammonia in the atmosphere. Atmos. Environ. 14, 819-834 (1980).

  2. 2. William R. Harvey, Signe Nedergaard, Sodium-independent active transport of potassium in the isolated midgut of the Cecropia silkworm. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.51, 731-735 (1964).

  3. 3. N. H. Sleep, Stagnant lid convection and carbonate metasomatism of the deep continental lithosphere. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst. 10, Q11010 (2009). [online-only paper; use article number instead of page]

  4. 4. J. M. Dinning, Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 42 (suppl. 1), 12 (1984). [journal with supplement noted]


1. M. Lister, “[Chapter title goes here]” in Fundamentals of Operating Systems (Springer, New York, ed. 3, 1984), pp. 7-11.

2. J. B. Carroll, Ed., Language, Thought and Reality, Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1956).

3. R. Davis, J. King, “[Chapter title goes here]” in Machine Intelligence, E. Acock, D. Michie, Eds. (Wiley, 1976), vol. 8, chap. 3. [use short form of publisher name, not “John Wiley & Sons”]

4. J. Sprung, Corals: A Quick Reference Guide (Oceanographic Series, Ricordea, Miami, FL, 1999). [for books in series, include the series title]

5. National Academy of Sciences, Principles and Procedures for Evaluating the Toxicity of Household Substances (National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC, 1977). [organization as author and publisher]

Technical reports

1. G. B. Shaw, “Practical uses of litmus paper in Möbius strips” (Tech. Rep. CUCS-29-82, Columbia Univ., 1982).

2. F. Press, “A report on the computational needs for physics” (National Science Foundation, 1981). [unpublished or access by title]

3. “Assessment of the carcinogenicity and mutagenicity of chemicals,” WHO Tech. Rep. Ser. No. 556 (1974). [no author]

4. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA), “White Paper on Bt plant-pesticide resistance management” (Publication 739-S-98-001, EPA, 1998; [the easiest access to this source is via the URL]

Conference proceedings (unpublished)

1. M. Konishi, paper presented at the 14th Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, Anaheim, CA, 10 October 1984.


1. B. Smith, thesis, Georgetown University (1973).

2. R. White, “[Thesis title goes here],“ thesis, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL (1983). [Optional: The title of the thesis may be provided in quotes after the author name.]

Electronic publication before print

1. W. Jones, B. Smith, [Article title goes here]. Science 10.1126/science.1054678 (2005). [published in Science First Release; not yet published in print]

2. J. Moyron-Quiroz et al., Role of inducible bronchus associated lymphoid tissue (iBALT) in respiratory immunity. Nat. Med. 10.1038/nm1091 (2004).

3. After print publication of a Science First Release paper (or any other paper that was initially published online), use the standard format for citing journal articles: W. Jones, B. Smith, [Article title goes here]. Science 311, 496–499 (2006).

Other online publication

1. E. M. Pietras, G. Cheng, A new TRADDition in intracellular antiviral signaling. Sci. Signal. 1, pe36 (2008). [Science Signaling]

2. R. K. Aziz, V. Nizet, Pathogen microevolution in high resolution. Sci. Transl. Med. 2, 16ps4 (2010). [Science Translational Medicine]

3. A. Clauset, S. Arbesman, D. B. Larremore, Systematic inequality and hierarchy in faculty hiring networks. Sci. Adv. 1, e1400005 (2015). [Science Advances]


1. A. Smette et al., (2001).

2. K. Abe et al., (2001) [if now published, omit the URL and provide only a standard reference]

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