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Instructions to Authors

1 Overview
1.1 Scope
1.2 Paper types
1.3 Charges
2 Preparing a manuscript
2.1 LaTeX
2.2 Microsoft Word and other word processors
2.3 Contents
2.4 Figures and tables
2.5 Language
2.6 Copyright and plagiarism
2.7 Catalogues and online-only material
2.8 Errata
3 Submitting a paper
3.1 Ethics
3.2 Newsworthy articles
3.3 Submissions through Overleaf
3.4 Submissions through ScholarOne Manuscripts
4 Editorial review
4.1 Decisions
4.2 Submitting a revised version
5 Publication
5.1 Author Services
5.2 Licence form
5.3 Artwork
5.4 Proofs
5.5 Open Access
5.6 Offprints
6 Style guide
6.1 Layout
6.2 Spelling, grammar, punctuation and mathematics
6.3 References and citations
6.4 Miscellaneous journal style
7 Contacts

1 Overview

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS) is a peer-reviewed scientific journal which publishes research in astronomy and astrophysics. First published in 1827, MNRAS is one of the world’s largest and most prestigious astronomy journals. Anyone may submit a paper to be considered for publication in MNRAS. There are no restrictions based on nationality, institutional affiliation, qualifications etc. Over three-quarters of papers published by MNRAS originate from outside the UK. The processing of papers has two major – and largely separate – elements: editorial review by the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS, section 4), and production by Oxford University Press (OUP, section 5). Authors are asked to read these instructions carefully.

1.1 Scope

Papers submitted for publication in MNRAS are considered by members of the editorial board, who will usually seek the opinion of one or more expert referees. Decisions on whether or not to publish a paper are subjective, but the minimum requirements are:

a) The paper must present original research, clearly demonstrating its novelty beyond that of previously published work.

b) The results must be significant and likely to make an important contribution to the advancement of their field.

c) The paper must be clearly presented, written in good scientific English, and conform to journal guidelines for content and presentation (see section 2).

d) The subject must be of interest to readers of MNRAS and fall within the range of topics covered by the journal.

MNRAS publishes the results of original research in astronomy and astrophysics, including work which is observational, theoretical or concerned with astronomical instrumentation. Assessment of whether papers fall within this scope is made by the members of the editorial board, who will reject papers which are not on suitable topics.

1.2 Paper types

Three types of paper are published by MNRAS: Main Journal papers, Letters, and Errata.

Main Journal papers are the most common type of paper published. There are no page limits, but it is important for papers to be concise: referees and editors may suggest shortening of any that are not, which may lead to delay in acceptance.

Letters should be self-contained and describe the results of an original study whose rapid publication might be expected to have a significant and immediate impact on the development of research in the associated subject area. They must not exceed five pages in length, and are handled along a fast-track process. The page limit must be respected. Authors are required to state their reasons for seeking publication in the form of a Letter when submitting their manuscript. Letters are published rapidly after acceptance in a separately paginated section of the journal and appear online only. They are published within 30 days of receipt of the final manuscript files in the production office, and linked immediately into the NASA ADS. This enables the fastest possible publication, widest dissemination to the research community and greatest impact. Electronic publication means that colour is fully supported, without charge and at the discretion of the author.

Errata are short corrections to papers which have previously been published in MNRAS. Errata may only be submitted by the authors of the original paper, and should be used to correct errors which may lead to significant misunderstandings or incorrect conclusions. See section 2.8 for details of errata.

1.3 Charges

There is no charge for submitting a paper to MNRAS, and no page charges for publication if the paper is accepted (although authors must ensure their papers are concise and may be required to shorten overly-long papers). There are two additional services which authors may choose to pay for if they wish:

1. No charge is made for colour figures in the electronic edition of the journal. Authors who wish to have their figures printed in colour (Main Journal only, Letters are not printed) are charged a flat rate of £200 + VAT per paper. See section 2.4 for more on colour printing.

2. All papers published in MNRAS are made available to all the subscribers to the journal. MNRAS also provides the option for authors to pay to make access free of charge to everyone, regardless of subscription status (author-pays open access). See section 5.5 for details.

In rare cases when authors make excessive changes to their papers at the proof stage (see section 5.4), it may be necessary to charge for the increased production costs incurred. Authors can avoid this charge by carefully checking all versions of papers before they are submitted, and avoiding making substantial changes at the proof stage.

2 Preparing a manuscript

Authors may prepare their manuscripts using any word processing package which can generate the document in a suitable format (see section 3.3 for suitable file formats). It is recommended that papers are prepared using LaTeX because this is the method best suited to the mathematical nature of the material. We can usually also accept papers written using Microsoft Word or other word processing packages, although these are not suitable for papers with significant mathematical content.

2.1 LaTeX

For authors preparing their manuscripts using LaTeX, MNRAS has its own LaTeX class files which simulate the appearance of the journal page. Authors are encouraged to use these, although papers prepared using other class files can also be accepted.

From June 2015 a major update to this package, version 3.0, has been made available.

The journal class files and documentation are available at the Comprehensive TeX Archive Network (CTAN) site in this directory. The package consists of a readme.txt file, the class file mnras.cls, a bibliography style file mnras.bst for authors wishing to use BibTeX, and documentation explaining how to use them. A simple template paper is also available.

2.2 Microsoft Word and other word processors

Papers will also be considered if they have been prepared using word processors such as Microsoft Word (although we encourage authors to use LaTeX). Word processed papers should follow the same style and layout as those prepared with LaTeX. Authors should pay particular attention to features which are not automated in these packages, such as references, figure numbers etc.

2.3 Contents

Authors must include the following contents in their manuscripts; any paper which does not will be returned to the authors for correction before it is considered for publication.

  • Pages: all pages must be numbered.
  • Title page: the title page must include the title of the paper, the names of the authors, full institutional addresses for each author, and the address for correspondence if that is different. E-mail addresses and present addresses (if different from those where the work was done) may be included as footnotes.
  • Abstract: authors must provide an abstract (except for Errata, which do not have abstracts), normally of not more than 250 words for Main Journal papers or 200 words for Letters. The abstract should be presented as a single paragraph and briefly summarize the goals, methods, and new results presented in the paper.
  • Key words: the abstract must be followed by between one and six key words from the MNRAS key words list – this list is common to MNRAS, ApJ and A&A;, and only key words that appear on the list are allowed.
  • Sections: the paper must be divided into a suitable number of sections and, if necessary, subsections. Sections and subsections must be numbered.
  • Tables and figures: numbers and captions must be provided for every table and figure; all must be cited in the text of the paper in the correct numerical order. See section 2.4 for guidelines on the preparation of figures and tables.
  • Mathematics: equations must be numbered.
  • References: all citations in the text must appear in a list of references at the end of the paper, and vice versa. The reference list must be in alphabetical order. Citations must be in the Harvard author (year) style e.g. Smith & Jones (1991).
  • Facility acknowledgements should be placed in the Acknowledgements section, and not as footnotes.
  • Crossref Funding Data Registry : in order to meet your funding requirements authors are required to name their funding sources, or state if there are none, during the submission process. For further information on this process or to find out more about the CHORUS initiative please click here.

These are the minimum requirements for consideration; authors should also see section 6 for further information on MNRAS journal style.

2.4 Figures and tables

Figures should be prepared to publication standard. For line diagrams and plots, authors should use vector graphics. For images and photographs, high-quality raster formats are preferable (though please note the file size limit in section 3.3). Technical details on the preparation of figures are discussed in section 5.3.

All figures and tables must be numbered, accompanied by a suitable caption, and be mentioned in the text in the correct numerical order. They should be placed at logical points in the text (i.e. not all at the end). All figure axes must be labelled, including units where applicable.

Colour figures are supported for free in the online edition of the journal, but authors will be charged for colour printing (the current charge is £200 + VAT for the whole paper). If authors choose not to pay for colour printing, they should ensure that their figures are legible when printed in black & white, or provide separate sets of figures for the print and online editions of the journal.

3D figures, such as those generated by S2PLOT, are fully supported in the online edition of the journal.

2.5 Language

Authors for whom English is not their first language should have their manuscript inspected by an English-speaking colleague. Language editing, particularly if English is not your first language, can be used to ensure that the academic content of your paper is fully understood by the journal editors and reviewers. Please note that edited manuscripts will still need to undergo peer-review by the journal.

Language editing does not guarantee that your manuscript will be accepted for publication. For further information on this service, please click here. Several specialist language editing companies offer similar services and you can also use any of these.

It is not mandatory to use a language editing service. Authors are liable for all costs associated with such services.

2.6 Copyright and plagiarism

It is the responsibility of the authors to ensure they have the necessary copyright permissions for any material (including, but not limited to, figures and text) used in their paper. Any re-use of material which has previously been published – even by the same authors, and/or in the same journal – must be accompanied by a citation to the original source and the necessary copyright permissions obtained. Quotation marks should be used around any text which has been reproduced from elsewhere, in addition to a citation.

Failure to properly cite material which has previously been published constitutes plagiarism and is a serious breach of scientific ethics. Papers which are found to contain plagiarized (including self-plagiarized) material will be rejected. All submissions are screened for originality using the iThenticate plagiarism detection system.

Note that the copyright for previously published material may rest with its publisher not its author, so it is not sufficient to merely obtain the original author’s permission. This also applies in the case of the author’s own previous publications. Please refer to the relevant journal or publisher websites for instructions.

Authors who wish to re-use material previously published in MNRAS should refer to the instructions at https://academic.oup.com/mnras/pages/rights_and_new_business_development.

Third-Party Content in Open Access papers

If you will be publishing your paper under an Open Access licence but it contains material for which you do not have Open Access re-use permissions, please state this clearly by supplying the following credit line alongside the material:

Title of content, Author, Original publication, year of original publication, by permission of [rights holder] This image/content is not covered by the terms of the Creative Commons licence of this publication. For permission to reuse, please contact the rights holder.

2.7 Catalogues and online-only material

Papers may be accompanied by online-only supporting information, such as long data tables, videos, additional figures, or supplementary appendices. Authors are particularly encouraged to make catalogues and databases available, so readers may reproduce their results or use them for future studies.

Online material will be available for download alongside the paper on the journal website. MNRAS can host all commonly used file types with a file size limit of 10 MB per file. If you have a query regarding hosting a specific file type, please contact the publishers (see section 7).

Authors who wish to make additional material available online only should follow this procedure:

  • In the case of long tables, the paper should include a sample table consisting of the first 5–10 rows of data, and the caption should state that the full table is available online.
  • In the case of videos, extra figures or appendices, these should be mentioned in the text (or figure caption) along with a statement that they are available online.
  • The file(s) containing the online material should be uploaded to ScholarOne as ‘Supplementary material (online)’, and mentioned in the box provided.
  • The file(s) will be placed online in exactly the format in which they are provided – the publishers will not modify them in any way. For tables, authors should provide a machine-readable file (e.g. ASCII.txt) containing the data and a description of the columns. Authors can in addition provide a formatted PDF containing the full table if they wish. Additional figures (with captions) and appendices should be provided as PDF files. LaTeX files should be avoided, as they will not be compiled before being placed online.

Authors are encouraged to mount machine-readable versions of their tables on the VizieR database of astronomical catalogues at the Centre de Données astronomiques de Strasbourg (CDS) website. It is the responsibility of the author to upload such material to CDS and to ensure that it is in the correct format for the database. Authors should consult the CDS website for instructions on preparing and submitting tabular data, which include a template that can be adapted for MNRAS tables. A hyperlink can be included to CDS from the electronic text of the MNRAS article.

2.8 Errata

Errata are short corrections to previously published papers. Errata may only be submitted by the authors of the original paper, and should be used to correct errors which may lead to significant misunderstandings or incorrect conclusions. Errata should be prepared in the same way as other papers, with the following exceptions:

  • The title should be ‘Erratum: [original title]’. In most cases the author list will be the same as the original paper.
  • There should be no abstract. Key words should be the same as the original, but with the addition of ‘errata, addenda’ at the start of the list (even if this results in 7 key words).
  • The first sentence should identify the original paper, which should be followed by a description of the error. There should be an explanation of how the error arose, what needs to be changed (e.g. replacement figure or table, new text), how these affect the conclusions of the earlier paper, and the erratum should finish with any references. See errata published in recent volumes of the journal for examples of the format.
  • When submitting on the ScholarOne website, select Erratum as the manuscript type, enter ‘Erratum’ instead of an abstract, and in the cover letter quote the original manuscript ID and give a one or two sentence explanation of why an erratum is required.

3 Submitting a paper

New manuscripts must be submitted electronically via the ScholarOne Manuscripts (S1M, formerly known as Manuscript Central) submission and tracking system at http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/mnras. Paper or email submissions are not accepted.

3.1 Ethics

Authors who submit a paper must be able to certify that the paper is original work, has not been published before and is not being considered for publication elsewhere. MNRAS is governed by the RAS Editorial Code of Practice, whose terms must be followed by all authors, editors and referees.

Authors should familiarize themselves with their obligations under the Editorial Code. In particular, authors are reminded that any of the following are considered to be serious breaches of scientific ethics, which will result in the immediate rejection of their paper: 

  • Submitting a paper to more than one publication at the same time. 
  • Plagiarism, including self-plagiarism (see also section 2.6). 
  • Personal attacks directed at referees, editors or other authors.

3.2 Newsworthy articles

The RAS Press Officer will be happy to assist with publicity and press releases in cases where submissions are likely to be of more general interest e.g. with the popular media. Authors wishing to take advantage of this service should request it during the submission process.

3.3 Submissions through Overleaf

For creating manuscripts in LaTeX, MNRAS recommends the use of its own LaTeX class files. Our class files are available online at Overleaf and also as a downloadable package via the links below.

Overleaf is a free, collaborative online LaTeX editor that allows you to write your manuscript in a TeX or rich text environment, to generate PDF outputs as you write, and to share your manuscript with co-authors and collaborators. Overleaf also allows you to submit your manuscript files directly into our online submission system, without needing to upload files manually, as well as to make updates to those files if preparing a revised submission. If you are submitting via Overleaf please use the link below, and adapt the .tex file provided or upload your own manuscript files.


Authors uploading their own manuscript files to Overleaf may also use the MNRAS LaTeX class files (see section 2.1).

3.4 Submissions through ScholarOne Manuscripts

Files to upload

Manuscripts must be submitted as a single file containing all figures and tables, in a single line spaced format so that the length of the paper may be judged. ScholarOne Manuscripts is able to handle manuscripts in PDF, PS, Word, RTF or plain text formats, which are automatically converted to a single PDF for use by the editor and reviewers. Do not zip or otherwise compress this file. Designate this file as ‘Complete manuscript file (PDF, PS or DOC)’.

Files should be kept as small as possible at this stage – files larger than 10 MB are not supported and should not be uploaded without prior approval. Authors may need to reduce the quality of their figures to meet this file size requirement; if the paper is accepted then higher quality figures may be reincorporated at the production stage (see section 5).

Any material for publication as online-only supporting information (see section 2.7) should be uploaded as ‘Supplementary material (online)’. Authors may also upload supplementary material which they wish to make available to the editor and referee but is not intended for publication, such as additional data tables or figures. This should be designated as ‘Supplementary material (file for reviewer)'. Both forms of supplementary material will be automatically added to the PDF generated by the system.

For authors using LaTeX: our ScholarOne website does not compile LaTeX files, so please compile a PDF or PS before uploading. PDF files generated with pdfTeX/pdfLaTeX sometimes fail on the ScholarOne Manuscripts system; this can be fixed by adding \pdfminorversion=5 to the preamble of your LaTeX file, or alternatively by converting to a PS file before uploading. Please check the PDF generated by the system before submitting.

All authors must also upload their manuscript and figure source files. For authors using LaTeX, this means the .tex, .eps, .bib etc. files. For authors using Word, this means the .doc or .docx and figure files. All the source files should be combined into a single .zip or .tar.gz archive and uploaded as ‘Source files (.zip or .tar.gz)’. The source files will be used for typesetting purposes and must be uploaded with every version of your paper, i.e. original version and all revisions. The source files must correspond exactly to the complete manuscript, otherwise delays in publication will occur. Please include an explanatory readme file in your archive. If you have used BibTeX to generate your bibliography in LaTeX, also include the .bib file in the archive along with the .bbl and .tex files; this will aid the typesetting process.      

How to submit a new paper

Log in at http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/mnras. User IDs and passwords are case sensitive. Users can check whether they already have an account, or find their user ID and password by entering their email address into the ‘Password Help’ section. Only create a new account if necessary – if you need to change the email address of an existing account please contact the editorial office. Once logged in, the main menu will appear and authors wishing to submit a new paper should select ‘Author Centre’.

To submit a new paper, click on ‘Submit a Manuscript’ on the top toolbar, or use the blue star icon. There are seven steps to complete when submitting a paper, which are listed on the left hand side of the screen. Some information, such as your name as author, is added automatically. A green tick appears next to each step as it is completed.

The steps do not have to be completed in sequence and the process can be abandoned mid-way through and picked up again at a later session, the information being stored as an ‘Unsubmitted manuscript’. To continue with the submission at a later date, click on ‘Unsubmitted manuscripts’ from the Author Centre. The paper will appear in a table at the bottom and you should then click on ‘Continue submission’.

All stages must be completed for a successful submission. Compulsory fields are marked with a purple ‘req’. Do not use your browser’s ‘back’ or ‘forward’ buttons, but move through the stages either by clicking on the step numbers on the left hand side of the page or by using the system’s ‘next’ and ‘previous’ buttons.

Step 1 - Enter the manuscript type (Main Journal, Letter or Erratum), title and abstract. The ‘running head’ is the short form of the title which appears at the top of odd-numbered pages. Errata do not have abstracts – please enter ‘Erratum’ into the box instead.

Step 2 - Choose at least one and up to six keywords from the list provided.

Step 3 - List all authors of the paper. You are automatically added as first author. Additional authors may be added and the order changed using the order drop-down box in the first column of the table. All the authors must be listed. Please use the ‘Find’ button to avoid duplication of accounts. If any co-authors do not yet have accounts on ScholarOne Manuscripts, fill out their details to create a new account and they will be notified by email.

The order of the authors on ScholarOne should match that on the PDF; the ‘first author’ is the one whose name appears first on this list. The ‘corresponding author’ is the one to be listed as such on the final published paper, whilst the ‘contact author’ is the person we will correspond with during the peer review and publication processes. The ‘submitting author’ is whichever author completes the manuscript submission process. In most cases all four of these will be the same person, but there is no requirement for this and they may be different if necessary.

Step 4 - Authors may optionally designate particular editors and reviewers that they would prefer not to assess their paper. Reasons must be given in the cover letter (next step). The editor will be informed of the request, but is under no obligation to grant it.

Step 5 - A cover letter may be added here, which will be seen by the editorial office only (i.e. not the referee). Please do not use this to summarize your results – the abstract already does this. Instead, use this box to highlight any special handling required, or to communicate with the editorial office. For example, the cover letter should be used to highlight any online material, explain requests for non-preferred reviewers and editors, list any companion papers or earlier papers in the same series etc. Only attach a file if absolutely necessary.

Step 6 - Upload your files here, giving each file a designation from the drop down list. See section 3.3 for details of which files you should upload. Make sure to click on ‘Upload Files’ at the bottom of the screen. All files, except those designated ‘not for review’, will be combined into a single PDF file.

Step 7 - Here you will see a checklist of what you have entered. Before you can complete your submission, you must check the PDF generated by the system. This is exactly what will be seen by the editor and referee, so if anything is missing or wrongly included it should be corrected now. Once the PDF has been checked carefully, submission can be completed by clicking the 'submit' icon.

You will receive confirmation on screen and via email. Keep a note of your Manuscript ID; this will help you track your submission via ScholarOne Manuscripts. The Editorial Office will contact you as soon as a decision has been made. If there are any difficulties during submission, please contact the Editorial Office (see section 7).

4 Editorial review

Manuscripts submitted to MNRAS undergo editorial review by the Royal Astronomical Society, via a process of scholarly peer review. Each paper is assessed by a member of the Editorial Board, who in most cases will solicit the opinion of one or more expert reviewers (also called referees). Reviewers critically examine the content of the paper and make recommendations on its suitability for publication. Reviewers may choose whether to reveal their identity to the authors; editors usually remain anonymous. The scientific editors are assisted by a team of Assistant Editors (formerly Editorial Assistants), who act as the primary point of contact and handle the administration of each paper.

4.1 Decisions

Accept – the paper is immediately accepted for publication and forwarded to the publishers.

Accept after revision – very minor changes, such as corrections to language or layout, are required. Once these have been made the paper will be forwarded to the publishers without further editorial review.

Minor/Moderate/Major revision – changes to the content of the paper are required before it can be published. The nature of the revisions required will be explained in the report. Once these changes have been made the paper will be reconsidered.

Withdraw – the editor and/or referee feel that the paper is not suitable for publication. The authors are therefore advised that they should withdraw their paper, and should inform the editorial office if they wish to do so. However, the authors may instead choose to modify their paper and submit a new version if they believe they can adequately address the report.

Reject – the editor feels that the paper is not suitable for publication, and cannot be made so through modification. All papers rejected at this stage are confirmed by a second editor before the decision is forwarded to the authors. The paper will not be considered any further, and the authors may not submit a revised version.

4.2 Submitting a revised version

If the editor decides to request modifications to a manuscript, the authors are allowed a maximum of six months to complete them (two months for Letters). Authors who submitted the original version of their manuscript using Overleaf can login to their Overleaf project to prepare and submit the revised version. Authors who submitted their manuscript through ScholarOne Manuscripts should follow the instructions below.

The revised version of the manuscript should be uploaded to ScholarOne Manuscripts by logging in, opening the Author Centre, and clicking on the purple button marked ‘Click here to submit a revision’. Do not use the blue ‘submit a new manuscript’ button for revised papers. Locate the entry for the paper in the table, and then click on the ‘create a revision’ link. Another seven-step process is then required. Steps 2–7 are identical to steps used when submitting a new manuscript (see section 3.4), and are automatically completed with the information from the original submission. Authors should check these carefully and make any modifications necessary. Step 1 is new, and requires the authors to enter a response to the editor and/or referee’s comments on their earlier version. Changes to the manuscript should be highlighted (e.g. in bold or colour), to assist the referee and editor. The response to the previous report should be as specific as possible, and directly address each of the points raised by the editor and/or referee. The process may be interrupted and continued at a later date. The partially-complete submission can be found under ‘Unsubmitted manuscripts’ in the Author Centre.

Authors should also upload a clean file (remove bold font or track changes) for the publisher, since uncorrected versions of accepted manuscripts are now published online ahead of the proof corrected versions (see below).

5 Publication

Once a paper has been accepted for publication, it will be forwarded by the RAS to the publishers, Oxford University Press (OUP). An uncorrected version of your manuscript will appear online within 24 hours of you completing your Licence to Publish form. Appearance in Advance Access constitutes publication and establishes precedence. Papers published in Advance Access are citable using the DOI and publication date. The paper will then be copy-edited and typeset from the supplied electronic files. After proof correction, the final version of your article will be immediately published in an online issue, and the uncorrected proof will be taken off the Advance Access page. Once published in an issue, articles can be cited by year, volume and article page number. OUP aims to publish all MNRAS papers online within 30 days of receipt in the production office.

5.1 Author Services

A variety of author services are available from Oxford University Press. For more information please see the ‘For Authors’ section of the Oxford Journals website.

Online production tracking is available for accepted articles through OUP Author Services. Author Services enables authors to track their article – once it has been accepted – through the production process to publication online and in print. The author will receive a ‘Welcome to Oxford Journals!’ e-mail with a link that enables them to set up a ‘My account’. Authors can check the status of their articles online using this account.

5.2 Licence form

Upon receipt of accepted manuscripts at Oxford Journals authors will be invited to complete an online licence to publish form.

5.3 Artwork

Guidelines for the use of figures were given in section 2.4. In this section, detailed instructions are given for the preparation of artwork which is suitable for professional publication and printing.

Authors are asked to bear in mind, when preparing their diagrams, the likely reduction that will be needed when the figure is placed in the journal page. It is important to ensure that the line thickness used will withstand a possibly significant reduction in size. This applies to all aspects of the figure, but dotted and dot-dashed lines can cause particular problems.

For all graphics files please make sure that the line weight is acceptable – the weight should not be less than 0.3 pt at final size. Finer lines and points than this will not print, even if you can see them on your laser printed hard copy – bear in mind that your laser printer has a far lower resolution than the imagesetter that will be used at the journal printers. Do not use hairlines as these can effectively disappear (they print at 1/1200th of an inch in thickness) when printed on a high-resolution imagesetter. When selecting line styles avoid triple-dot-dashed lines as this line style is overly complicated and is not always supported by typesetting, PostScripting and artwork software. Solid, dotted, dashed, dot-dashed, double-dot-dashed and dot-double-dashed lines are all OK.

Axis labelling, lettering and any plotting symbols should be sized appropriately for the figure and its likely final size. For example, a relatively empty figure containing only a couple of line plots will be reduced to a single journal column (84 mm wide), and should therefore have thick enough lines and large enough labelling to withstand reduction perhaps to one-half or one-third of original size, or even smaller. Labelling that is far too large for a figure can also be problematic, and may look very odd on the typeset page. Unsuitable artwork will be referred back to the author, inevitably leading to delay in publication.

Grey-scale and half-tones

Grey-scale images can be tricky to reproduce well, owing to the slight but unavoidable degradation (loss of contrast) that occurs during the printing process (which involves wet ink on absorbent paper). Aspects that cause particular problems include: many shades of grey in a figure with only subtle differences between them; very fine tints or very solid tints; large areas of dark grey and black next to each other; black contours or symbols overlaid on a dark grey background.

Steps that authors can take to remedy these problems and so improve the final result include: avoiding very fine (80 per cent) tints; increasing the contrast between shades as much as possible; using fewer different levels of grey; reversing the grey-scale so that large areas of dark grey next to black become light grey next to white; making contours/symbols white where they are overlaid on dark grey shades; making figures as close to the final size as possible, to minimize the reduction needed; or even considering whether grey shading is really needed at all in a figure – e.g. could contours alone be used to represent the data, or could cross-hatching be used to represent particular regions of a graph or histogram?

File formats

The preferred format for electronic graphics file is Encapsulated PostScript (EPS), although PDF and TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) files can also be used.

EPS files should be saved with a PC preview/header to allow viewing on screen, cropped tightly, and saved with a minimum amount of white space around the illustration. All fonts and any logos should be embedded as part of the file, and please use a common font like Times, Arial or Helvetica for labelling. Please also make sure that all labelling to be included in the figure [e.g. (a), (b), names of objects in multi-panelled figures, etc.] is embedded in the file – please do not use LaTeX code to include these labels as the figures are processed entirely separately from the LaTeX code.

Authors should take care in particular to make sure that the bounding box of the EPS file encompasses the entire visible area of the image. If the bounding box is not large enough, the figure will appear cropped when imported into the typesetter’s software (Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator). Ideally, the EPS file should be scaled to the final size and have the desired aspect ratio. Do not alter the aspect ratio using LaTeX code as the files are dealt with separately from the LaTeX file. Also please note that the typesetters cannot use graphics that have been produced using the LaTeX ‘picture’ environment.

TIFF files should be saved with a minimum amount of white space around the illustration, and with the PC option if possible. Please make sure that the TIFF file has sufficient resolution: this is 300 pixels per inch (ppi) for grey-scale/half-tone figures (e.g. photographs), and 800 ppi for combined line/tone figures, at final size.

For example, a figure that is to fill one column (approx. 80 mm wide, or 3.15 inches) needs to be at least 945 pixels wide if it is a photograph (3.15 × 300) or 2500 pixels wide (3.15 × 800) if it is a combination of a photograph and labelling. If the file is very large then it can be compressed: please tell us which compression method has been used.

Graphics files should be named to indicate clearly to which illustration they pertain (e.g. fig6.eps for Fig. 6). Please do not supply figures with long, complicated filenames. Please supply the figures as one figure per file and not as multi-page PS or TIFF files.


Note that there is a charge for colour printing – see section 2.4. Colour figure files should be supplied as CMYK if possible, rather than RGB.

It may not always be possible to get an exact match for all of the colours in a particular figure: in particular, colours that appear fluorescent on-screen will look flatter when printed. The exact appearance of a colour figure at any stage depends on the display medium and settings used: e.g. EPS file viewed on screen, laser print, CMYK printing of ink on paper.

Any colour files not printed in colour will be published as grey-scale in the paper journal and in colour on the web, free of charge. If you have figures that are to be processed in this way, please check the proofs very carefully, as false colours can sometimes reproduce in unusual ways when converted to grey-scale mode. If you wish, you can supply separate grey-scale and colour files for the print and web versions of your paper.

5.4 Proofs

Once a paper has been received by the publishers it is edited for style and language, and then typeset ready for publication. At this stage the authors are sent a copy of the typeset paper, referred to as the ‘proof’. This is the final chance for authors to make any corrections to their paper, so it is vital that the proofs are checked thoroughly for any mistakes. Any subsequent erratum should relate only to significant errors that are identified in the scientific content of the publication, not to cosmetic changes.

Note that although papers are typeset using the author's source files as a starting point, the paper will have been converted to XML in the typesetter's own system and the PDF proofs created from this. It is therefore not possible to submit corrections using new LaTeX or Word files. Short LaTeX excerpts for mathematical corrections are acceptable.

At the proof stage the authors should carefully check their paper, including spelling, grammar, style, layout, referencing etc. If references need to be updated, please carefully check the textual citations as well. All corrections must be clearly marked and returned to the publishers as soon as possible, along with the answers to any queries made by the publishers. Changes to the substantive content or scientific results of a paper should be avoided. Proofs should be returned by the date requested if at all possible – delay in returning the proofs will lead to delay in publication of the paper.

Sometimes important new results become available between the time when a paper is accepted and when the proofs are returned. The authors may choose to mention these if they wish by inserting a 'Note added in proof' at the end of the paper, just before the references. This should not normally exceed two or three sentences in length.

Please appreciate that in order to achieve the rapid 30-day publication goal, the production schedule is very tight. If authors realize that they need to make substantive changes to their paper (beyond minor changes of e.g. spelling and grammar) after acceptance, the changes must be cleared by the RAS, and may need to be referred back to the editor and/or referee. Any such changes notified after the paper has gone into production (i.e. the day after the acceptance email is sent from the RAS) cannot be incorporated into the paper before it is typeset. Such changes will therefore need to be made as part of the proof corrections. To avoid excessive proof corrections and the delay that these can cause, authors are strongly encouraged to ensure that each version of their paper that they submit to MNRAS is completely ready for publication. Authors may be charged for excessive changes during production (see section 1.3).

After typesetting, editing, and proof correction, articles are immediately published in an online issue and this constitutes official publication. Once published, articles can be cited by year, volume and article page number.

5.5 Open Access

Authors may optionally choose to publish their paper under the Oxford Open scheme. This author-pays open access service makes papers freely available to everyone, online and immediately upon publication, for a fee.

There is no need for authors to indicate that they wish to use Oxford Open until after a paper has been accepted. All open access papers are treated in the same way as any other paper; editors and referees will not be informed if an author opts for this service. These papers go through the journal’s standard peer-review process and will be accepted or rejected based on their own merit.

Oxford Open articles are published under Creative Commons licences. Authors publishing in MNRAS can use the following Creative Commons licence for their articles:

• Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC BY)

Please click here for more information about the Creative Commons licences.

You can pay Open Access charges using our Author Services site. This will enable you to pay online with a credit/debit card, or request an invoice by email or post. The Open Access charges applicable are:

• Regular charge - £1500 / $2650 / €2250

• Reduced Rate Developing country charge* - £750 / $1325 / €1125

• Free Developing country charge* - £0 /$0 / €0

*Visit our Developing Countries page for a list of qualifying countries.

Discounted rates are available for RAS Fellows ( rates available here). Please note that these charges are in addition to any colour printing charges that may apply.

Orders from the UK will be subject to the current UK VAT charge. For orders from the rest of the European Union, OUP will assume that the service is provided for business purposes. Please provide a VAT number for yourself or your institution and ensure you account for your own local VAT correctly.

5.6 Offprints

Authors will be provided with a PDF offprint on publication of their paper. These are provided free of charge to the corresponding author, and may be distributed subject to the accompanying terms and conditions.

For main journal articles, paper offprints of the published article may be purchased if ordered via the method stipulated on the instructions that accompany the proofs. Note that it is not uncommon for printed offprints to take up to eight weeks to arrive after publication of the journal.

Single copies of the Journal in which an author’s paper is published (back issues) can also be ordered from the Author Services site.

6 Style guide

Papers published in MNRAS follow the journal’s house style. The minimum requirements for papers were set out in section 2.3 . Full compliance with MNRAS style will be ensured by the publishers, but the authors should note the points below (which are not intended to be exhaustive) on common points of style. Manuscripts should be prepared accordingly.

6.1 Layout

Papers should be formatted with two columns (except the abstract) and single line spaced. A single column layout may be used only if necessary for the display of numerous very long equations. The journal is printed on A4-sized paper.

Sections should be numbered 1, 2, 2.1, 2.1.1 etc. Appendices should be labelled A, B, etc. Capital letters should be used only where they would occur in a normal sentence – e.g. ROSAT observations of the unusual star…, not ROSAT Observations of the Unusual Star…, with the exception of main section headings which are all capitals (e.g. INTRODUCTION).

The first numbered section (after the abstract) should be the Introduction, and the last numbered section should present the authors’ conclusions. These should be followed by un-numbered Acknowledgements and References sections, with any Appendices appearing at the end (after the list of references).

Between one and six key words should be selected from the MNRAS key words list No other key words may be used. The correct layout for key words (note punctuation) is, for example, ‘Key words: galaxies: active – galaxies: Seyfert – radio continuum: galaxies.’

Figures and tables should be referred to as e.g. Fig. 1 and Table 1, unless they are from another paper, in which case fig. 1 and table 1 should be used. Where a figure has several parts, labels (a), (b) etc. should be added as appropriate. Figures (plots) containing quantitative information should have borders on all sides and fiducial marks on every border. Axes should be labelled and include the units. Tables should only have horizontal lines at the top and bottom, and under the column headings; no vertical lines should be used. Authors should note any special instructions regarding sizing or layout of figures and tables in their cover letter.

6.2 Spelling, grammar, punctuation and mathematics


Hyphens (one dash in LaTeX) should be used for compound adjectives (e.g. low-density gas, least-squares fit, two-component model). This also applies to simple adjectival units (e.g. 1.5-m telescope, 284.5-nm line), but not to complex units or ranges, which could become cumbersome (e.g. 15 km s –1 feature, 100–200 µm observations). Some words (e.g. time-scale) are always hyphenated as part of journal style (see below).

N-rules (two dashes in LaTeX): these are longer than hyphens and are used (i) to separate key words, (ii) as parentheses (e.g. the results – assuming no temperature gradient – are indicative of …), (iii) to denote a range (e.g. 1.6–2.2 µm), and (iv) to denote the joining of two words (e.g. Kolmogorov–Smirnov test, Herbig–Haro object).

M-rules (three dashes in TeX/LaTeX) are not used in MNRAS.

Spelling and grammar

Please use British English spellings – e.g. centre not center, sulphur not sulfur and labelled not labeled. For words ending in -ise/yse or -ize follow this style: use -ise/yse for devise, surprise, comprise, revise, exercise, analyse; use -ize for recognize, criticize, minimize, emphasize, organize, ionize, polarize, parametrize (note the spelling of this word in particular).

‘None’ is a singular word (none of the stars is a white dwarf), whilst ‘data’ is a plural word (these data show…).

Miscellaneous journal spellings: acknowledgements, artefact, best-fitting (not best-fit), disc (except computer disk), haloes (not halos), hotspot, none the less, non-linear, on to, time-scale.

For any other spellings, use whichever version is listed first in the Oxford English Dictionary.


Scalar variables are italic; vectors are bold italic (no arrows); matrices are bold Univers font (like bold sans serif); dot products are denoted by a bold centred dot • , cross-products by a bold multiplication sign ×. Differential d, complex i, exponential e, sin, cos, tan, log, etc., are roman (not italic). Sub/superscripts that are physical variables are italic, while those that are merely labels are roman (e.g. Ct and Fν but Teff and bmax). Equations should be punctuated as part of the sentence. Displayed equations are ranged left (i.e. no indent). Numbering of equations should follow the convention (1), (2)… throughout the whole paper, or (2.1), (2.2)… by section. Equations in appendices should be numbered (A1), (A2), (B1), etc.

6.3 References and citations

MNRAS, in common with other journals in astronomy, uses the Harvard – i.e. author (year) – referencing style. All papers cited in the text must be included in an alphabetical list of references at the end of the paper, and vice versa. It is the responsibility of the authors to ensure the accuracy of their references. This is particularly important for the online version of the journal, where links are provided to cited references. If the reference details are wrong then the links will fail, and the citations will not be counted in bibliographic databases.

Citations in the text, tables or figure captions, should use the following style:

• For one author, use either the form (Brown 1999) or e.g. the observations of Brown (1999)…, as appropriate for the context.

• For two authors, use an ampersand: Brown & Jones (1991).

• For three authors, give all three names at first mention, e.g. (Brown, Jones & Smith 1994), but use first author et al. (in roman, not italic) thereafter, e.g. (Brown et al. 1994).

• For more than three authors, use the first author et al., e.g. (Brown et al. 1994).

• For several papers by the same author(s), use the style (Brown 1992, 1995) or Smith et al. (2000a,b) show that…

• When several papers are cited in brackets, they should be ordered by date and separated by semi-colons, e.g. (Smith et al. 1990; Brown et al. 1995).

If any catalogues, databases or scientific software are referred to in the paper, authors should ensure that those responsible for compiling them are properly credited. Rather than citing only a URL, if at all possible a reference should also be cited (and included in the reference list), or if a reference is not available then the names of those who compiled the database, or wrote the software, should be given. Note that some catalogues, databases and software do provide guidelines on how they should be cited - if so then these guidelines should be followed.

The reference list should include no bold or italic, no commas after author surnames, and no ampersand between the final two author names. List all of the authors if there are eight or fewer, otherwise give just the first author followed by ‘et al.’. The styles for journal articles, conference proceedings, textbooks and PhD theses are illustrated by the following examples:

  • Eke V., Cole S., Frenk C.S., 1996, MNRAS, 282, 263
  • Smith A., 2000, in Minh Y.C., van Dishoeck E.F., eds, Proc. IAU Symp. 197, Astrochemistry: from Molecular Clouds to Planetary Systems. Astron. Soc. Pac., San Francisco, p. 210
  • Felsteiner J., Opher R., 1991, in Treves A., ed., Iron Line Diagnostics in X-ray Sources. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, p. 209
  • Garrido R., 2000, in Brege M., Montgomery M.H., eds, ASP Conf. Ser. Vol. 210, Delta Scuti and Related Stars. Astron. Soc. Pac., San Francisco, p. 67
  • Jones P., Taylor N., 2013, MNRAS, in press
  • Peebles P. J. E., 1980, The Large-Scale Structure of the Universe. Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, NJ
  • Pounds K. A. et al., 1993, MNRAS, 260, 77
  • Smith P. et al., 2013, preprint (arXiv:0123.45678)
  • Williams B. G., 1992, PhD thesis, Univ. Edinburgh
  • Brown J., 2015, Astrophysics Source Code Library, record ascl:1234.567

To cite online-only conference presentations, please follow the example below: Barr, Ewan 2014, presentation at "Extreme-Astrophysics in an Ever-Changing Universe: Time-Domain Astronomy in the 21st Century", lerapetra, Crete, 16-20 June 2014. http://www3.mpifr-bonn.mpg.de/div/jhs/Program_files/EwanBarrCrete2014.pdf (accessed January 4, 2016)

Private communications or papers in preparation should be listed as such in the text, but omitted from the reference list, e.g. Smith (in preparation) shows that… The reference list should be in alphabetical order by surname. Spelling of author names and years must be consistent between the text and reference list. Prefixes such as de or van should be considered as part of the family name for alphabetical arrangement, and Mc should be alphabetized as if it were Mac.

If there are several references with the same first author, arrange in the following order: firstly single-author papers (by date); then two-author papers (alphabetically by co-author, then by date); then multi-author papers (by date).

Letters are denoted by the prefix L on the page number (e.g. ApJ, 298, L14) or a P, (small capitals) for older MNRAS papers (e.g. MNRAS, 251, 23 < P).

The following simplified abbreviations are used for frequently used journals, as in the examples above. For journals not on this list, use the IAU standard abbreviations published on the IAU website.

  • A&A: Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • A&ARv: Astronomy and Astrophysics Review (the)
  • A&AS: Astronomy and Astrophysics Supplement Series
  • Afz: Astrofizika
  • AJ: Astronomical Journal (the)
  • Ap&SS: Astrophysics and Space Science
  • ApJ: Astrophysical Journal (the)
  • ApJS: Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series (the)
  • ARA&A: Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • ASP Conf. Ser.: Astronomy Society of the Pacific Conference Series
  • Azh: Astronomicheskij Zhurnal
  • BAAS: Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society
  • Mem. RAS: Memoirs of the Royal Astronomical Society
  • MNASSA: Monthly Notes of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa
  • MNRAS: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
  • Nature (do not abbreviate)
  • PASJ: Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan
  • PASP: Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
  • QJRAS: Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society
  • Rev. Mex. Astron. Astrofis.: Revista Mexicana de Astronomia y Astrofisica
  • Science (do not abbreviate)
  • SvA: Soviet Astronomy

6.4 Miscellaneous journal style

Non-Roman alphabets Papers must be written in the Roman alphabet used in English. As an exception to this rule, personal names may be given in their native alphabet (e.g. Cyrillic, Chinese, Greek, Arabic etc.) in the list of authors (only), provided the Roman equivalent is given first with the native name in brackets e.g. Ivan Petrovich Sidorov (Иван Петрович Сидоров), Zhang San (張三 ).


  • Units should be in roman and separated from the number by a non-breaking space: e.g. 200 keV.
  • The units of time are ms, s, min, h, d, yr.
  • The units of length/distance are Å, nm, µm, mm, cm, m, km, au, light-year, pc.
  • Use superscript –1 , not solidus /, for units: e.g. km s –1 (not km/s).
  • The unit of arcseconds is arcsec when used to denote angular size or separation (e.g. beamsize 12 arcsec, 30 arcsec west of the star), similarly for arcmin. Use the prime and double prime symbols (not apostrophes) for coordinates (e.g. dec. –30° 29ʹ 23ʺ). If decimal points are used, these symbols should appear directly above them.
  • Use the degree symbol ° except to denote e.g. areas, where deg 2 may be more appropriate (e.g. a survey area of 3 deg 2 ).
  • Avoid repeating units unnecessarily (e.g. ‘1.3 and 2.6 mm’ rather than ‘1.3 mm and 2.6 mm’).
  • The unit of magnitudes is mag, not superscript m.
  • Percentages should be written per cent, not %, except in tables.
  • Solar masses and solar luminosities should use the subscript solar symbol and be set roman e.g. M, L .

Best practice

Authors are encouraged to follow those guidelines which are relevant to their field for the best practice in publications. These include:

Other journal style

  • Use a single (not double) space after a full stop.
  • The abbreviations e.g. i.e. cf. etc. NB et al. are all roman (not italic). Note the punctuation.
  • Use single quotes ‘. . .’ not double quotes “. . .”, except where this would cause ambiguity.
  • Letters denoting wavebands (e.g. UBV , K -band) are set italic.
  • Colour excess is set as E(B – V) i.e. with no subscript and using a minus sign.
  • Extinction is set A V i.e. with subscript.
  • Letters denoting orbital states (1s 2 , 2p 2 etc.) are set in roman.
  • Ionized species should be denoted by small capitals, preceded by a thin space – e.g. He I, Ca II.
  • Balmer, Lyman etc. lines are set as e.g. H β, Ly α (no subscript, non-breaking space).
  • Computer software should be in small capitals e.g. IRAF, CLOUDY.
  • Satellite names should be in italic e.g. Herschel , XMM-Newton , JWST .
  • The correct order of brackets is {[( . . . )]}.
  • Acronyms and abbreviations should be spelt out at the first occurrence, unless they are very well known throughout astronomy e.g. CCD.
  • Dates should be written as e.g. 1998 April 14, except in tables, where months may be abbreviated as Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, June, July, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec.
  • Stellar names derived from constellations should be written in the genitive form: e.g. V386 Sagittarii or V386 Sgr (not V386 Sagittarius).
  • Facility acknowledgements should be placed in the Acknowledgements section, and not as footnotes.

7 Contacts

There are separate points of contact for enquires relating to papers which are undergoing editorial review by the RAS and those in production by Oxford University Press. Please do not contact the publishers with queries about papers that are still under editorial review, or the editorial office about papers which are in production – the two stages are almost entirely separate and they will be unable to assist.

Submitted papers

For papers which have been submitted but have not yet been accepted, please contact the assigned Assistant Editor by clicking on their name in the ScholarOne Author Centre. If this is impossible, contact the RAS Editorial Office:

Royal Astronomical Society
Burlington House
London W1J 0BQ
Tel: +44 (0)20 7734 3307/4582
Fax: +44 (0)20 7494 0166
E-mail: kc@ras.org.uk

Accepted papers

For papers which have been accepted and are in production, contact the publishers:

RAS Journal Production
Oxford Journals
Oxford University Press
Great Clarendon Street
Oxford OX2 6DP
Tel: +44 (0)1865 353120
E-mail: mnrasj@oup.com
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