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Style Guide for Authors



Bioscience Horizons considers two types of manuscripts for publication: Research Articles and Reviews.

All manuscripts must:

  • conform to the style conventions described below
  • be concise
  • be written in UK English (UK spelling should be Oxford English, i.e. ize not ise (but use analyse). (See the Concise Oxford Dictionary or http://www.merriam-webster.com/)
  • be organized in the sequence described below
  • be double-spaced
  • be typed no smaller than 12-point Times Roman
  • have correct diacritics for non-English words
  • acknowledge all funding sources
  • be saved as a .doc or .rtf file
  • include text, tables, and figure legends in a single file
  • include figures as separate files
  • define abbreviations at the point in the text where they are first used

Keep formatting simple:

  • avoid unnecessary hyphenation, justification, linked and embedded objects and images, and other advanced word processing features, as they have to be removed during production
  • avoid unusual fonts (stick with Symbol, Times/Times New Roman, Courier/Courier new, Helvetica/Arial)
  • be consistent in representing symbols
  • distinguish similar-looking symbols (e.g., letter x, multiplication sign, and Greek chi; minus sign, hyphen, and dash)
  • do not approximate characters by creating your own symbols (e.g., superscript o for degree symbol)
  • do not use underlining to indicate italics or in plus-minus signs


The title page must state:

  • whether submission is intended as a Review or Research Article
  • title
  • name of author
  • name of project supervisor(s)
  • institution(s) at which research was done
  • name and address, telephone number, and e-mail address of the corresponding author
  • brief author biography (max. 150 words) giving details of degree course studied, particular field(s) of interest, and future aspirations
  • list of 6 keywords
  • running head: an abbreviated heading that will run at the top of each page of your submission (maximum of 50 characters including spaces)

The title page must also contain:

  • title length in words and in characters (maximum 120 characters including spaces)
  • abstract length (in words)
  • total length of text (in words, and in characters including spaces), including all legends and methods, but not Abstract, references, or tabular content

Choose a title that contains useful information about content rather than one with dramatic impact. Choose keywords that accurately index your article to a broad readership. Species names should be among the keywords in articles based on a single species.


The main text must be no more than 5000 words (excluding references and tabular content) and should comprise:

  • Abstract (to include background, methods, results obtained and relevance of findings)
  • Introduction: this section should specifically state the scientific question within the context of the field of study
  • Materials and Methods
  • Results: this section should summarize the scientific advance or novel results of the study
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion (if needed)
  • Acknowledgments: these should be included at the end of the text and not in footnotes, and should not include funding sources (see below)
  • Funding: acknowledge all funding sources for the work
  • References

Papers submitted as Reviews to Bioscience Horizons should be original reviews of the literature, which may be of general interest to a broad biosciences audience. The scientific content communicated may be original or may address findings published in other journals.

The following specific, additional requirements apply to Reviews:

  • The title page must contain:
    • Abstract length (in words)
    • Total length of text (in words, and in characters including spaces), including all legends and methods, but not Abstract or references
    • The number of references
  • The main text should contain subsections where appropriate.
  • The main body of the text, including all figure legends and including the Methods section if applicable, must not exceed 5000 words. References do not count towards this word limit.


The abstract should be a factual condensation of the entire paper, including a statement of purpose, a clear description of observations and findings, and a concise presentation of conclusions. The abstract must not exceed 350 words. References to cited literature should not be included.


References should be cited (referred to) in the main body of the text using the Harvard style (i.e. providing the surname of the first author and year of publication in brackets). E.g. "... achieved remarkable results (Jones, 2011; Smith et al., 1998)".

  • using Harvard style author surnames (Jones, 1999 or Jones & Jones, 1999 or Jones et al, 1999 ).

If you are referring to manuscripts that have not formally been accepted for publication, use the following conventions:

  • refer to unpublished work of authors as "(name, unpublished data)" (for example, ‘(J Smith, unpublished data)’).
  • refer to unpublished work of others as "(name, personal communication)" (for example, ‘(J Smith, personal communication)’). Permission to cite is required.

The ‘Reference’ section (where full citations are given) must be formatted as follows:

  • list the references in alphabetical order
  • for multiple works by the same first author, list alphabetically by subsequent authors; if authors are identical, list by date; if authors and dates are identical, arrange alphabetically by title, setting the dates as, e.g. "2008a" and "2008b"
  • list all authors when there are 6 or less; when 7 or more, list only the first 3 authors followed by "et al."
  • refer to manuscripts accepted for publication but which have not yet been published as "in press”
  • include relevant pages for quotations
  • do not include manuscripts that have not formally been accepted for publication (see comments on unpublished data and personal communications above)
  • specific examples:

    • Journal articles : Pensole GL, Gissi C, Lanave C, Saccone C (1995) Glutamine synthetase gene evolution in bacteria. Mol Biol Evol 12:189-197.
    • (>7 co-authors) : Wilson R, Ainscough R, Anderson K, et al . (1994) 2.2 Mb of contiguous nucleotide sequence from chromosome III of C. elegans. Nature 368:32-38.
    • Books : Ingram VM (1963) The hemoglobins in genetics and evolution . New York: Columbia University Press.
    • Book chapters : Hall BG (1983) Evolution of new metabolic functions in laboratory organisms. In M Nei, RK Coehn, eds, Evolution of genes and proteins (1983) Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, pp 234-257.
  • For web sites and other electronic materials, the following information should be provided, where applicable or known to you:

    • Author
    • Title of work
    • Publisher / hosting entity
    • URL
    • Date material created or last updated
    • Date material accessed

For example:
Online reference source
‘Knight Bachelor’, Encycloapedia Britannica Online (2002) accessed Nov 2002.

Online article
University Performance, 2001 League Tables: Firsts and Upper Seconds, Times Higher Education Supplement , Statistics page (published online 31 May 2001) accessed 31 May 2001.


Tables must:

  • have short titles that describe their contents
  • not have "legends"
  • not include vertical rules
  • continue onto a second or third page, if necessary
  • be numbered with Arabic numerals, e.g., Table 1, Table 2
  • arrange data so that columns of like material read down, not across
  • include sufficient information that the meaning of the data is clear without reference to the text
  • include explanatory material as footnotes immediately below the table, these should include definitions of all acronyms and abbreviations
  • reference explanatory footnotes by superscripted lower case letters
  • not include detailed descriptions of experiments in explanatory footnotes
  • be used only when six or more individual data are presented
  • begin on a new page

Tables must be referred to in the text, both to make it clear to the reader how the table augments the text, and to indicate where the table should appear on the page relative to the text.

Tables must be used in an appropriate way: you must not use tables as a way of presenting text that you don’t have room for in the main body of the text, simply to get round the word limit for the article.


Figure legends must:

  • contain enough information for the figure to be understood independently of the text
  • define abbreviations used in the figure
  • be grouped together starting on a new page


  • Tables and figure legends should be supplied in the same file as the text, but at the end of the file
  • The figure legends should be grouped together on a new page
  • The 5000 word limit does include figure legends


Figures must:

  • be supplied as electronic files
  • be numbered consecutively following the sequence in which they are mentioned in the text
  • include scale bars where appropriate. These should not be placed in the legend
  • be roughly at the size intended for publication. Maximum single column width = 8.2 cm/3.25 inches; 2 columns = 16.9 cm/6.75 inches; depth = 24 cm/9.25 inches
  • have uniform lettering style
  • not include sequences and alignments that exceed one journal page.

Note that as this is online journal, authors are encouraged to submit colour illustrations as figures.

Figures must be referred to in the text , both to make it clear to the reader how the figure relates to the text, and to indicate where the figure should appear on the page relative to the text.

Preparing electronic figure files

Figures files must:

  • have any unnecessary white space cropped from around the outside of the image if the file is a TIFF file. Be careful not to crop any of the intended image
  • each be saved in a separate file. If a figure has multiple parts (e.g., Fig. 1A, Fig. 1B) all parts should be saved into one file
  • be saved at minimum 200 dots per inch, when the image is sized at approximately the size it is to appear in the published paper.

(For figures that are to fill a single column (8.25 cm/ 3.25 inches), a figure would need to be no less than 1000 pixels wide in order to achieve a resolution of 300 dots per inch. For figures that are to fill a double column (16.9 cm/ 6.75 inches), a figure would need to be no less than 2025 pixels wide.)

We can accept figure files in several formats, including (but not limited to) .jpg, .tif, and .eps. If you are unsure whether the file type(s) you intend to use will be suitable, please contact biohorizons.editorialoffice@oup.com .

All files must be given names that include the corresponding author's first initial and surname and the figure number – for example, Smith_J FIG 1A.


  • Abbreviations and symbols should follow the International System of Units (SI)
  • Nonstandard abbreviations must be defined at first occurrence, in both abstract and main text
  • Species must be identified by italicized scientific binomens. Generic names that are also common names should not be italicized unless they form part of a binomen (thus an investigation may involve Drosophila melanogaster or D. melanogaster, but a comparison would be made between Drosophila and human genes). Binomen abbreviations of the form "Gsp" (Genus, species) as, for example, "Hsa" for Homo sapiens may be used in tables and figures
  • Genetic loci must be italicized and must follow the established rules of genetic nomenclature that have been established for the various organisms (e.g. HUGO Nomenclature Committee, the International Immunogenetics Database, Mouse Nomenclature Guidelines, or Mendel-GFDb (plants)
  • The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry and the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology rules of nomenclature must be followed for amino acids, peptides, proteins, enzymes, nucleic acids, polynucleotides, carbohydrates, and lipids
  • Mathematical equations must be presented with correct spacing between characters. Characters in equations and their counterparts in the text will be set in italics unless the author specifies otherwise the first time a character appears. Equations must be numbered sequentially, in Arabic numerals


A short guide to setting mathematics is available here .

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