Skip to content
IOP Science

Style guide for journal articles

This information can be used to help you style your manuscript to IOP Publishing guidelines. It is not mandatory, and we will apply appropriate styling as part of the production process, where required. Mathematics may be formatted to be consistent with the style of the journal.

Note that some of our journals do not follow these guidelines; in these cases, the correct style will be applied.


  • Define acronyms at their first occurrence in the abstract and main text. After this, use the acronym only.
  • Do not use an acronym if the definition or phrase is used only once.
  • The definition should be lower case, unless it contains proper nouns, e.g., electron energy distribution function (EEDF).
  • Acronyms that are very familiar to readers of a particular journal do not need to be expanded.


  • Punctuate equations (inline and displayed) as part of the sentence.
  • Make the following notation roman: differential ‘d’, exponential ‘e’, complex ‘i’, sin, cos, tan, etc.
  • Use italic for subscripts and superscripts that are variables and roman for those that are labels.
  • Use a full space between numbers and units, e.g., 1 m s−1. Apply the same rule for numbers with mathematical operators, e.g., 1 = x.
  • Write units in index notation, e.g., m s−1.
  • Do not use hyphens between a number and its unit; use, e.g., 5 m thick barrier (not ‘5-m thick barrier’, or ‘5-m-thick barrier’).
  • In numbers, include a thin space every three digits from the decimal, e.g., 15 000.


Number footnotes sequentially throughout the article. If numbers have been used for affiliations, run on subsequent footnotes in the text (rather than starting again at 1).

Denote table footnotes with lower case superscript roman letters, e.g. ‘a’, ‘b’, ‘c’, etc, and the list the footnotes underneath the table. Write each new footnote on a separate line.


  • Use single quotation marks for quotations and double quotation marks for quotations within quotations.
  • Use lower case ‘x’ in ‘x-ray’, except at the beginning of a sentence.
  • Use a single space after a full stop.
  • En dashes () can denote a range or relationship between two nouns. Em dashes (—) can be used in place of commas or brackets. Do not use spaces between em dashes or en dashes.
  • We encourage authors to use inclusive language (e.g. “they” instead of “he” or “she”) wherever possible.

Figures and tables

Place figures and graphics at the top of the page where possible and do not embed within the text.  Size and position figures to achieve consistent font size and information display.

Figures and tables will be placed as close as possible to their first citation within the text (ideally on the same page) when your article is typeset; however, sometimes the number or size of figures does not allow for this.

Number all figures and tables in numerical order. If this is not the case they will be renumbered as part of the production process.

Use labels, e.g., ‘(a)’, ‘(b)’, etc where a figure has several parts. Explain all parts in the caption.

If the figure has been previously published elsewhere, obtain permission from the original publisher and include the appropriate permissions wording in your figure caption, even if it is your own work.

The style in the text for referring to tables and figures is, for example, ‘table 1’ and ‘figure 1’ (or ‘Table 1’ and ‘Figure 1’ if at the beginning of a sentence), respectively. Contractions (e.g. ‘tab. 2’, ‘fig. 1’) are not allowed.


We encourage the use of the Harvard or Vancouver reference systems. However, you can use any reference system providing it is sensible and consistent throughout the paper. We will ensure your references adhere to house style during the production process, whatever format you submit them in.

A reference should give your reader enough information to locate the article, and you should take care to ensure that the information is correct so that DOI links can be made.

Listed below are the most common reference types. We have included details of how they should be styled and the mandatory elements they should include.

Journal articles

References to journal works should include:

  • Author(s): surname(s) and initial(s)
  • Year
  • [Title of article (optional, but see below)]
  • Standard abbreviated journal title (in italics)
  • Part of journal (e.g. A, B, etc, if appropriate)
  • Volume number (in bold)
  • Page number, page range or article number


  • Cantillano C, Mukherjee S, Morales-Inostroza L, Real B, Cáceres-Aravena G, Hermann-Avigliano C, Thomson R R and Vicencio R A 2018 New J. Phys. 20 033028

For more than ten authors, the name of the first author should be given followed by et al.

Note that the article title is not mandatory, except for Journal of Neural Engineering (J. Neural Eng.), Measurement Science and Technology (Meas. Sci. Technol.), Physical Biology (Phys. Biol.), Physiological Measurement (Physiol. Meas.) and Physics in Medicine and Biology (Phys. Med. Biol.).

If no individual is named as the author, the reference may be by a collaborative group of authors or by a corporate body, e.g.:

  • The ASDEX Upgrade Team 2002 Theory-based modelling of ASDEX Upgrade discharges with ECH modulation Nucl. Fus. 42 L11

If a collaboration is appended to one or more authors, the name of the collaboration must come before the year, e.g.:

  • Nakamura K (Particle Data Group) 2010 J. Phys. G: Nucl. Part. Phys. 37 075021


References to a book should include:

  • Author(s): surname(s) and initial(s)
  • Year
  • Full title (in italics, the initial letter of each significant word should be upper case; note that if a word is hyphenated then both parts should have an initial capital letter; for example, Non-Classical Mechanics)
  • Town of publication
  • Publisher


  • Whelan C T 2018 Atomic Structure (Bristol: IOP Publishing)

References to a book may include (optional):

  • Chapter title (lower case roman; caps only for first word and proper nouns)
  • Edition (e.g. 1st edn) (if any)
  • Volume number (if any, given after the contraction ‘vol’)
  • Editor(s) (if any, initials before the surname(s) and preceded by the contraction ‘ed’ [no full point] even if more than one editor)
  • Chapter and/or page number(s) (if appropriate)


  • Leung C-W and Ng C-K 2018 Spectra of commutative non-unital Banach rings Advances in Ultrametric Analysis (Contemporary Mathematics vol 704) ed A Escassut et al (Providence, RI: American Mathematical Society) p 91

Conference proceedings

References to conference papers should include:

  • Author(s): surname(s) and initial(s)
  • Year of publication
  • Title of conference (in italics, initial letter of each significant word should be upper case)


  • Mahanta N K and Abramson A R 2012 13th Intersociety Conf. on Thermal and Thermomechanical Phenomena in Electronic Systems

References to a conference proceedings may include (optional):

  • Paper title
  • Place and date (month and/or year) of conference (in italics and within parentheses, separated by commas)
  • Volume number
  • Editors
  • Town of publication
  • Publisher
  • Page numbers/other paper designations

SPIE Proceedings, AIP Conference Proceedings and IEEE Transactions

These should be treated as journals:

  • Levin A D and Shmytkova E A 2015 Proc. SPIE 9526 95260P
  • Smith M 2004 AIP Conf Proc. 94 340–9
  • Stoffels E et al 2008 IEEE Trans. Plasma Sci. 36 1441–57

Conference series

Conference series should include the title of the conference and the title of the series but not the publisher.

The exceptions are Journal of Physics: Conference Series (J. Phys.: Conf. Ser.), IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science (IOP Conf. Ser.: Earth Environ. Sci.) and IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering (IOP Conf. Ser.: Mater. Sci. Eng.), which should be set as journal references, e.g.:

  • Barry R Holstein 2009 J. Phys.: Conf. Ser. 173 012019
  • V V Kramarenko et al 2016 IOP Conf. Ser.: Earth Environ. Sci. 43 012029
  • S Adarsh et al 2016 IOP Conf. Ser.: Mater. Sci. Eng. 149 012141

Web links

Only permanent or persistent web links should be used in reference lists. Examples of acceptable links include:

  • Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
  • PubMed identifier (PMID)
  • PubMed Central reference number (PMCID)
  • SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS) Bibliographic Code
  • arXiv e-print number



References to pre-prints should include:

  • Author(s)
  • Year of publication
  • Pre-print number


  • Jones R and Brown A 2011 arXiv:0912.1470


References to theses should include:

  • Author surname and initials
  • Year
  • Type of thesis
  • Institution


  • Roberts P 1970 MSc Thesis University of Manchester
  • Dobson C T J 1968 Magnetic transport in reaction–diffusion phenomena PhD Thesis Brunel University, London

The title is optional.

Lecture Notes

References to theses should include:

  • Author surname and initials
  • Year
  • Lecture title
  • Institution


  • Chandrasekhar J R 2003 Modelling aspects of model based dynamic qos management by the performability manager Lecture Notes Institute of Technology Delhi, India

Accepted or submitted

References to articles that are accepted or submitted should include:

  • Author(s)
  • Year of publication
  • Standard abbreviated journal title (in italics)
  • Either ‘accepted’ or ‘submitted’


  • Jones R and Brown A 2011 Class. Quantum Grav. accepted

In preparation

References to articles that are in preparation should include:

  • Author(s)
  • Year of preparation
  • Article title
  • ‘In preparation’ (within parentheses)


  • Jones R and Brown A 2011 Class. Quantum Grav. in preparation

Non-bibliographic text

References that do not contain bibliographic information (i.e. they do not refer to other pieces of work) should be set as a footnote within the text and cited at the appropriate location.


Ensure that all references are cited in the text and that all citations have a corresponding reference.