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Diabetologia style guide

This style guide is intended to be an evolving document to help make your copy-editing more efficient and to maintain consistency. If you come across an item that isn't covered or needs updating, please email us at diabetologia-j@bristol.ac.uk

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Copy-editor's brief

This section gives a basic outline of what tasks are required for each article. More detailed information on each point is given elsewhere in the style guide.

In this section:


  • Please acknowledge receipt of articles sent for copy-editing and let us know whether you can take them.
  • We normally request that articles be returned within 3 working days. Please let us know if you need any significant extension to this.


  • The text should be edited for accuracy, clarity and consistency, following the style guide.
  • In general, retain the author's style but make changes to assist readability.
  • PerfectIt should be used as a pre- or post-editing tool. Let us know if you have any problems with this.
  • Papers for copy-editing will have words or parts of words highlighted in pink to help you identify words or phrases that may need attention (see guide to pre-editing checks for details).
  • Please complete an author query form for each article with a list of queries to be passed on to the author.
  • Please also complete the copy-editor's checklist and note any queries for the attention of the Editorial Office.


  • Please cross-check all data in the paper, where possible. In particular, check that results reported in the Abstract are consistent with the rest of the paper and are rounded correctly; similarly, cross-check data reported in the Results to the figures and tables, as appropriate. However, note that some data may be reported in the Results that is not also included in a table or figure-this is fine.
  • Make sure that numbers given in flow charts add up and are consistent with the text.
  • Where possible, data within tables should be checked-for example percentages can be checked where it is clear how they were derived.
  • Check citations and discussion of figures and tables in the text to ensure they match the information given in the figure/table, and that the correct table number or figure part has been referred to.

Tables and figures

  • Check that figures are cited in the main text in consecutive order. Individual figure parts, however, do not need to be cited in the main text, or in consecutive order.
  • See the Tables and figures section for more details.


  • ESM does not need to be copy-edited, but please check the following:
    • that ESM is all present and correctly labelled
    • that the ESM citations match the information given in the ESM (i.e. that the correct number or figure part has been given)
  • If ESM citations are missing or in an incorrect order, this should already have been picked up by the Editorial Office and an author query raised at the top of the paper.


  • Before papers are sent for copy-editing the reference citations are checked for numerical order, the reference list is checked for duplicates and the author will have been asked to change the reference format if it deviates too much from our standard style.
  • Further formatting changes are made by the typesetters as detailed in the References section of the style guide.
  • Scan references for potential problems and, where possible, correct any mistakes by checking on PubMed or raise as an author query.
  • Cross-check all author names given with citations in the text to make sure they match the reference list. Either the first author or the research group leader (usually the last author) may be named; either is acceptable.
  • Check for missing information (see References for details of format and required information).


  • Please check all website URLs in the text and reference list, and raise any problems as an author query and/or note them on the copy-editor's checklist.
  • Ask authors to provide an access date for websites given in the main text and references.

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General points

  • Language – set to UK English in Word
  • Work with track changes on
  • Spelling: UK English, Oxford English Dictionary, -ise ending
  • In general retain the author's style, but make changes to assist readability
  • Not Oxford (serial) comma, except for clarity. For example: Diabetes is common in Somerset, Cumbria and Lancashire. The incidence was measured in Somerset, Cumbria, Hereford and Worcester, and Lancashire
  • Papers for copy-editing will have words or parts of words highlighted in pink to help you identify words or phrases that may need attention (see guide to pre-editing checks for details)
  • The typesetters automatically format the following items (except in Table headers and footnotes, and Figure legends) so there is no need for you to:
    • change x to a multiplication sign or ' to a prime symbol
    • italicise p in p value, n, F in F test, U in U test, r or R (printed version will be p value, n, F test, U test, r, R); however, the typesetters will not change case, so please ensure that, for example, p is lower case.
    • place en-rules between pairs of numbers
    • alter spacing around mathematical symbols (e.g. +, ±, =) (printed version will be, for example, 0.38±0.5, p<0.05); signs abutted by text will have space around them, e.g.mean ± SEM; multiple units and equations will be spaced, e.g. units for blood glucose AUC: mmol/l × h; the AUC for the low-glucose diet was 24 mmol/l × min × 10
    • alter spacing between values and symbols (printed version will be, for example, 5.6 mm, 8.8 g)
    • change hyphens or N-rules to minus signs (however you will not be expected to mark up hyphens to be changed to minus signs in figures)

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Author queries

Use the author query sheet provided to list author queries. We have compiled a list of commonly used queries that you can adapt for specific circumstances. These should be used as the basis for your queries. We also ask you to complete a copy-editor's checklist. Please keep language queries to a minimum – they can often be condensed into one or two global queries. Once we receive your copy-edited paper and the queries, we will forward the queries to the author. We will also forward the copy-edited paper to the author, asking him/her to review the paper and make changes in response to the queries.

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  • Proofs are supplied as a pdf together with a Word version of the copy-edited paper and a pdf of the copy-edited figures
  • We do not ask proofreaders to check ESM
  • There is no need to check the metadata, except for the ESM figure legends if included
  • You can either:
    • Print out the proof and mark up corrections by hand. You can either scan the marked-up proof and return by email or fax it to us on 0117 414 7886
    • or
    • Mark up the corrections on screen. In this case, please use sticky notes not text edits, and do not use highlighting. The sticky notes should be placed at the text to be corrected rather than in the margin. You can then return the pdf via email, or through an ftp site if you prefer
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Layout and style

In this section:

Title page


  • Check for sense and succinctness. Abbreviations are acceptable in the title if they make it more readable (but still define in parentheses later if the abbreviation occurs in the paper). In addition, make sure that any animal species are named. (Note that animals are used as models of type 1 and 2 diabetes; they cannot have type 1 or type 2 diabetes). Use lower case after colon.
  • We do not include a short title, so this can be deleted
Authors' details
  • Family and given names should be written out, with other initials; e.g. Matthew N. Burton; J. Maria Johnson; Jean-Marc Dupont. There is no need to format the author list, e.g. names can be separated by centred dot, comma, space, etc. Delete academic titles
  • If any of the authors' names include particles (e.g. de, de al, von, del, etc.) or unusual abbreviations (Ch., Ph. etc.), add an author query to find out how the author would like their name to appear on PubMed
  • Replace the corresponding author’s brief affiliation address with their full corresponding address, which should include street name, postcode, etc. (In Canadian addresses only the postcode goes after the country name, e.g. Canada TN2 1N4.) The corresponding author's details should then include their name, full postal address (identical to that in the affiliations) and email address. You may need to check that the corresponding author’s full address applies to all authors listed as having the same affiliation (see standard author queries).
    Dr Peter Brown1,2, Dr William Green2 and Prof. Jill White1
    1. Department of Genetics, University of Stockport, Stockport, UK
    2. Department of Clinical Science, University of Macclesfield, Macclesfield, UK
    Corresponding author: P. Brown, Department of Genetics, University of Stockport, Edgerton Road, Stockport SK35 8BJ, UK; email P.brown@stockport.ac.uk
    Peter Brown1,2, William Green2 and Jill White1
    1. Department of Genetics, University of Stockport, Edgerton Road, Stockport, Cheshire SK35 8BJ, UK
    2. Department of Clinical Science, University of Macclesfield, Macclesfield, UK
    Corresponding author: P. Brown, Department of Genetics, University of Stockport, Edgerton Road, Stockport SK35 8BJ, UK
    email P.brown@stockport.ac.uk
  • Occasionally authors set out their affiliations in the same way as they will appear in the proofs rather than as a numbered list (check a PDF of a recent paper on http://link.springer.com/journal/125 for style details). If they do this, please check the affiliations in this format (ensuring that each author is listed as having at least one affiliation, and that the authors appear in the same order as the author list for each affiliation).
  • The addresses for non-corresponding authors should be short affiliations (ie no street name, no postcode)
  • The affiliation details should be in the order: department, institution, town/city, country
  • For UK addresses, the corresponding author's address may include Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland if they wish. However, the short affiliation addresses should not include them
  • Present addresses appear as an additional affiliation, e.g.
    Present address: Department of Endocrinology, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
    Present address: 11 Exeter Road, London, UK
    A retired author giving a private address does not need to provide full details, and can just give city and country if preferred.
  • For US, Canadian and Australian states, use the two- or three-letter Post Office abbreviation e.g. ON not Ontario. The name of the country is not abbreviated, except for the USA and UK
  • Names of institutes/universities and towns/cities/countries can be left as supplied by the author (i.e. they do not have to be the English spelling)
  • INSERM, which is a French group of research units, should be Inserm (lower case with initial capital letter)
  • The Spanish Centro de Investigacion Biomedica en Red (CIBER) organisations, e.g. CIBERDEM and CIBERESP, are umbrella organisations that are associated with Instituto de Salud Carlos III (ISCII), Madrid, Spain.
    Authors can EITHER include full details including the city, e.g.:
    1. Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Diabetes y Enfermedades Metabólicas Asociadas (CIBERDEM), Instituto de Salud Carlos III (ISCIII), Madrid, Spain
    OR leave out ISCIII and city details and include the URL instead, e.g.:
    1. Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Diabetes y Enfermedades Metabólicas Asociadas (CIBERDEM), Spain
  • Affiliations for the German organisation DZD should be set out as follows (changing the city details as appropriate):
    German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD), München Neuherberg, Germany
  • If the affiliation includes Singapore, add Republic of Singapore. Inform the author of the change
    … , Singapore, Republic of Singapore
  • If the affiliation includes China, ask the author if this can be changed to People's Republic of China (written out, not abbreviated)
  • If the affiliation includes Hong Kong, ask the author if they wish to include Special Administrative Region (the abbreviation SAR is acceptable):
    … , Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, People's Republic of China
  • In 'Queen Mary College University of London', there is no comma after 'College'
  • If there are two corresponding authors, ask which of the authors should receive the proofs (see commonly used queries)
  • Move statements such as 'Part of this work was presented/was published as an abstract' to the acknowledgements section
  • For two or more authors who contributed equally to a study, add a note as follows:
    Peter A. Bloggs and Rowena J. Smith contributed equally to this study.
  • For authors who have died, a footnote should be included based on the following style:
    Professor G. Stanley, who supervised this research, died on 17 June 2010 before publication of this work.
Received / Accepted dates
  • These dates should already be on the paper (date format: 4 July 2002). Springer will add an online publication date at a later stage

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  • The abstract should have a four-part structure (Headings: 'Aims/hypothesis', 'Methods', 'Results', 'Conclusions/interpretation', as italic shoulder headings). Please check that the author has included data to support the main findings of the study and raise an author query or ask the Editorial Office if you are unsure. If abstracts are written in 'telegram' style, i.e. incomplete sentences, amend to full, written-out sentences. There should not be any citations. Include as few abbreviations as possible (these should be written out in full on first mention in the abstract if not in the accepted abbreviations list and again on first mention in text)

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Data availability

  • If the paper has a positive data-availability statement, the URL for access of the data should be included below the Abstract with the side heading Data availability. A similar statement will also be included at the end, below the Acknowledgements. The data should also be cited within the main text, and it should be added to the reference list if it has been assgned a DOI number. Negative data-availability statements should just be included below the Acknowledgements. Please click here for examples of appropriate wording. This can be tweaked at copy-editing as appropriate.

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Randomised controlled trials

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Clinical trials registration numbers

  • In line with the requirements of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), and CONSORT guidelines, Diabetologia requires authors to have registered their trial in a registry at the time of conception
  • Acceptable registries include any registry that is a primary register of the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (see www.who.int/ictrp/network/primary/en/index.html) or in ClinicalTrials.gov (http://clinicaltrials.gov/)
  • The abstract must conclude with a clinical trials registration number and details of funding. For example:
    Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00094757
    Funding: The study was funded by Galactozone.
  • If there is no abstract, for example in a Research Letter, then the registration number and funding line go before the Acknowledgements
  • If the registration number is not present, please contact us

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  • Up to ten keywords can be included. Check for alphabetical order. Keywords should have an initial capital letter only.
  • For a Review, Meta-analysis or Systematic review, add 'Review', Meta-analysis' or 'Systematic review', respectively, to the keywords
  • If the first character or characters in a chemical compound is a prefix or numeral (such as α-, O-, cis-) then the prefix or numeral is ignored for the purposes of alphabetisation. Other terms that begin with symbols or numerals (such as 30 min glucose tolerance test) are listed at the start of the alphabetical list

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Abbreviations list

  • The list should include only abbreviations and acronyms not listed in Instructions to Authors as accepted abbreviations and used more than once. Abbreviations not on the approved list should be defined in parentheses on first use in the abstract and on first use in the main text. If the authors have defined abbreviations that are on the journal's accepted list, delete the definition here and in the main text
  • Abbreviations should be in alphabetical order (see Keywords for information on ordering terms with prefixes and numerals)
  • The written-out form of the abbreviation in the list is all lower case but with an initial capital letter (except for name of trials, etc.)
  • Authors do not have to use the accepted abbreviation in place of the full version, although this may be more appropriate at times. Authors should use either the full version or the abbreviation consistently
  • Abbreviations used only once in the Methods can be handled less strictly. Versus is always abbreviated to vs (no final point)
  • Do not include any gene symbols, as these are not strictly abbreviations
  • Short abbreviations for diseases are not allowed, such as T2DM, T1DM, DN (diabetic nephropathy), DR (diabetic retinopathy), AZ (Alzheimer's disease). They may be used in figures and tables for space reasons, and defined in the legend/footnote
  • There is no written-out version of BIGTT (a test to measure beta cell function, insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance simultaneously)
  • Three letter amino acid abbreviations (e.g. Gly) do not need to be defined

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Body of text

Levels of headings must be clearly differentiated by typographical means by the copy-editor:
  • Style 1: If there are two heading levels:
    • H1 Heading on line by itself in bold (14 pt in Word)
    • H2 Shoulder heading in bold (12 pt in Word, text runs on)
  • Style 2: If there are three heading levels:
    • H1 Heading on line by itself in bold (14 pt in Word)
    • H2 Heading on line by itself in bold (12 pt in Word)
    • H3 Shoulder heading in bold (12 pt in Word, text runs on)
  • Either Style 1 or 2 should be applied throughout the paper (not, for example, Style 1 in the Introduction and Style 2 in the Results).
  • Please check that gene symbols are correctly formatted with italics in bold subheadings.
  • Please see here for examples of articles styled with Style 1 and Style 2.
  • Displayed quotes are styled as follows: the quotation in is italics, left justified; the author/source is upright, left justified on the line below the quote. For example:

  • Life is like a jar of honey!
    John Golding

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  • Note that sections are headed Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion
  • Check heading hierarchy and style appropriately
  • If an additional section 'Conclusions' has been added by the author, please include this as a subsection of the Discussion.
  • Delete trademark devices or type of company (e.g. Ltd, Inc, GmbH, Co, Corp, LLC)
  • Check that the suppliers' or manufacturers' details are given at first mention in the text for animals or other biological materials, or for non-standard materials (USA: town/city, state, country; UK: town/city, country (no counties); for Canadian and US states use the two-letter Post Office abbreviation e.g. ON not Ontario. After the first mention, only the manufacturer's name need be given and not the location.
  • Check that there is an explanation of ± (standard deviation or standard error) in the text or in the Statistical analysis section
Ethical issues
  • Check that the paper includes an ethics statement
  • Studies on people: there should be a sentence stating that the study has the approval of an ethics committee and/or that studies have been carried out in accordance with Declaration of Helsinki. It is not mandatory to have both. There should also be a statement to the effect that informed consent was obtained from each participant
  • Studies on animals: there should be a sentence stating either that the study was approved by the local ethics committee or that the study was conducted in accordance with the Principles of Laboratory Care. Details of the breeds and suppliers should also be included
  • If the relevant statement is missing, raise as an author query
  • Database studies: for studies involving patient medical data, we would expect to see a statement that the study has the approval of an ethics committee and/or those responsible for data privacy in the health authorities involved (the Caldicott Guardians for UK NHS data). The use of data from certain publically available databases, in which patient data are not identifiable (such as the DIAGRAM, MAGIC, GIANT, GLGC, ICBP and ADIPOgen databases), does not need ethics approval, although there are certain guidelines that need to be followed for citing the source, and which are given in the respective websites
  • Avoid the use of Caucasian to indicate white, as it is technically specific to people from the Caucasus region (AMA Manual of Style (2007) 10th edition New York Oxford University Press p 415; see also Freedman [1987] BMJ 294: 1630). Preferred terms are of European descent, Europid or white (raise as an author query) See also Bhopal & Donaldson, 1998
  • American Indian is generally preferred to the broader term Native American, which is acceptable but also includes Hawaiian, Samoan and Alaskan natives. Wherever possible, specify the nation of peoples (e.g. Inuit, Navajo) rather than using the more general term
  • Similarly, Asian persons may wish to be described according to their country or geographic area of origin, e.g. Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Sri Lankan, not Oriental or Orientals
  • For Indigenous Australian, include I with capital letter
  • Note style for African-American (with a hyphen)

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  • Heading: bold, run-on
  • Use an English translation for foreign organisations where appropriate
  • Initials and last names, but not titles, should be given with brief affiliations (e.g. J. P. Smith, Kings College London, London, UK)
  • If it looks as if there has been assistance in writing or editing the paper, please ask the author to give details of the person/company and any financial remuneration (see commonly used queries)
  • Statements of data availability should be included under this heading below the Acknowledgements section. This will include a repetition of postive statements that include a URL for data access (also included with the Abstract), as well as negative statements (that is, where the data is not available, or is only available on application to the author). Please click here for examples of appropriate wording. This can be tweaked at copy-editing as appropriate

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  • Heading: bold, run-on
  • The funding statement follows the Acknowledgements
  • Author names are given as initials with no full stops
  • Authors should be asked to provide a statement even where no specific funding is received: This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors

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Duality of interest statement

  • Heading: bold, run-on
  • Check that a statement is included, even if it is negative. The statement is positioned after the Funding statement
  • Format for negative statement: The authors declare that there is no duality of interest associated with this manuscript
  • For a positive disclosure of interest, the author's initials (no full stops) should be used, e.g.: PTJ has an 80% holding in Random Drug Ltd. All other authors declare that there is no duality of interest associated with their contribution to this manuscript

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Contribution statement

  • Heading: bold, run-on
  • The contribution statement follows the duality of interest statement
  • Author names are given as initials with no full stops (unlike elsewhere in the paper where the format e.g. P. Bateman is used)
  • The authors' initials should be cross-checked against the author list to ensure that they are correct and complete)
  • Text should be given as prose

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Note added in proof

  • A note added in proof is placed before the Acknowledgements in the same style

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  • Any appendices are placed before the references.

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Electronic supplementary material

  • Electronic supplementary material (ESM) is provided by the authors as separate pdfs ready to be posted online
  • Check that there are call outs to the ESM at appropriate points in the text and that the citations are in the correct order
  • Call outs should be in the form, for example: ' … (see electronic supplementary material [ESM] Table 1)'. For subsequent call outs ' …(ESM Table 1)'. There is no need to include ESM in the list of abbreviations
  • Video/movie files should be named ESM Video 1, ESM Video 2 etc. with corresponding call outs
  • Add the standard author query to give the author a chance to amend the ESM in the light of the copy-editor's queries on the paper.

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Tables and figures

  • Check that figures are cited in the main text in consecutive order. Individual figure parts, however, do not need to be cited in the main text, or in consecutive order. Use 'Fig.' throughout text unless the word occurs at the start of a sentence, in which case use 'Figure'. For multipart figures use 'Fig. 1a,b' (no space between number and part letters) and 'Figs 2, 3' when referring to separate figures; please close up a,b
  • There is no need to redefine abbreviations used in figure legends and table footnotes if they have already been defined in text and are included in abbreviations list
  • In general, use superscript letters rather than symbols except for significance values (use *p<0.05, **p<0.01, ***p<0.001 as far as possible; the sequence for symbols for other levels of significance is: †, ‡, §, ¶; please don't use # or $ signs)
  • Proofreaders: note that if a figure spans two columns and there are more than two lines in the legend, then the legend is spilt into two columns. If the legend is only one or two lines, then the legend runs across the two columns
  • Reference citations in a table or figure legend that do not also occur in the text should EITHER be listed at the end of the reference list OR listed in numerical order at the position of the first call out to that figure or table in the main text. Either system is acceptable, but authors should be consistent
  • If comparing different studies, citations in a table should be given in the format Name of study or first author's name followed by et al (give names of both authors if there are only two authors), year of publication (optional), the reference citation number in square brackets, e.g. Smith et al (2008) [14]. PMIDs should be replaced with these details. See also Large tables below
  • If figures or data in a table are from another paper (or modified or adapted from another paper) then the corresponding author will need to provide written proof that he/she has permission to reproduce the material. Note that BioMed Central (BMC) journals have open copyright permission
  • Marked-up figures may be scanned and emailed to diabetologia-j@bristol.ac.uk or returned by fax (0117 414 7887). If you have access to a colour scanner, this does provide clearer images than faxing
  • Figures should be correctly worded and labelled, with capital letters for first word of axis legends only
  • Add a global note to indicate that axis labels should not be in bold. Check that curves and experimental points correspond with axes. Delete frames or headings from graphs
  • Align figure identifier (a, b, c, etc.) with y-axis label
  • Keys should not normally be included on figures; they should be explained in the accompanying figure legend. Exceptions are where keys are too complex to describe in the legend, in which case we may decide to retain the visual key
  • If a graph has two y-axes, the labels for the axes should both face inwards towards the body of the graph
  • Indicate a line break in an axis label if the label is longer than the axis
  • Indicate that axis labels set on the vertical or diagonal should be rotated if there is space so that the text is horizontal. You may then need to indicate line breaks if the labels are too wide. Vertical labels should be rotated to diagonal if there is insufficient space for horizontal labels
  • The typesetters can't accept pictorial symbols in the figure legends – they must be written out.
    • For line graphs: Use black, white, grey, etc. rather than empty, filled, open, closed, etc. (for example use: black square, white square, black triangle, white triangle). There is no need to include black or white if all the symbols are either black or white (for example use: square, triangle). It is preferable to try to group symbols/format together for conciseness, for example:
      White symbols, low-fat diet; black symbols, high-fat diet; circles, girls; squares, boys.
      rather than:
      White circles, low-fat diet in girls; black circles, high-fat diet in girls; white squares, low-fat diet in boys; black squares, high-fat diet in boys
    • For bar charts: Use white bar, black bar, light grey bar, dark grey bar, striped bar, hatched bar etc.
  • Stepped lines rather than smooth lines are conventional for logrank survival graphs
  • See figure mark-up and samples of marked-up figures for further details on editing figures
Forest plots
  • In the first column the author must include either:
    • the name of the first author of the study plus et al (without a full stop) and the year of publication, for example: Green et al, 2009 [21] (if there are only two authors on the paper the name of the second author is included. For example: Green and Brown, 2009 [22]); or
    • the name or acronym of the study, for example ADVANCE [23] (the year(s) for the study can be included, but this is optional).
  • You may need to add an author query to ask the author to amend the figure if the reference numbers are missing
  • The first column heading should read: Authors [ref.]
  • IV (inverse variance) and M–H (Mantel–Haenszel) should be explained in the figure legend

Check that tables are cited in consecutive order in the main text. Blank cells in tables are permitted but blank rows will be removed by the typesetter.

  • The typesetters will not print any internal gridlines or rows of space. You may need to edit the table and/or raise author queries with this in mind
  • In order to clarify the width of spanner rules in column headings where necessary, add a narrow blank column between the appropriate columns. Merge the cells within the column in the header rows (see examples). It may not be possible to add a column without distorting the layout of the table: in this case see instructions in examples for how to proceed
  • Add a heading to the left-hand column header cell if it is blank (note that this should be in the singular, for example, 'Variable' or 'Characteristic')
  • Superscript letters used to link to footnotes should appear in the following order in the table: left to right along column headers, left to right along each subsequent row (including the row header)
  • Entries in the left-hand column subordinate to those above them (in contrast to independent entries) should be indented by two em spaces (select an em space from the special character tab in the symbol menu or set up a keyboard shortcut). If you have more than two levels, indent level 2 by two em spaces, then level 3 by four em spaces
  • The typesetters will format the tables, so there is no need to align values
  • The typesetters will not print any bold within the tables. If the author has used bold type to show significance, for example, you will need to use superscript symbols within the table with a linked footnote to explain the meaning of the [previously] bold type
  • If you're having problems with tables where you can't get the heading to stay at the top, or the footnotes disappear behind or wrap around the table, then it's usually because the text wrapping feature is on. To fix this put the cursor in the table then Layout tab/Cell size/Table/Text wrapping/None. If that still doesn't fix it, try Layout tab/Cell size/Cell/Options/Untick wrap text as well
Large tables

  • Look out for large tables summarising data from other sources, particularly in meta-analyses and systematic reviews, as these can present a problem at typesetting in terms of layout
  • Concentrate on content not format, as much of the formatting, such as bullets and indents within cells, is stripped out at typesetting. However, it is useful to adjust column width to make the text-heavy columns as wide as possible
  • Try to make text as concise as possible
  • Is the style of information consistent across cells e.g. bullet points vs prose? Try to be as consistent as possible between different sources-while different research papers will report things in different ways, try to reword for brevity and uniformity where possible
  • Consider whether text can be abbreviated e.g. the abbreviation T2D would be fine in a table, although not allowed in the main text. Can you suggest other non-standard abbreviations to reduce the content of cells?
  • Please define abbreviations in footnotes rather than within the table
  • Can you suggest footnotes that could be used to reduce the content of cells, for example where the same information is repeated in numerous cells?
  • Could the content of any columns be merged to save space? This should generally be raised as a query initially, rather than spending time on it, as the authors may object or have alternative ideas
  • Consider the order of publications within the table, and raise a query for the author if it does not seem to follow a pattern, e.g. date order, alphabetical order, date order within different categories. We have had authors wanting to change the order of tables completely at the proof stage, which was quite a headache, so much better to consider it at copy-editing!

Figure legends, table headers and table footnotes
  • The typesetters do not format the figure legends, table headers and table footnotes, so they must be edited as they are to be printed
  • In general:
    • p, n, r, t, etc. in italics
    • No spaces around *, <, =, ±, >, etc. (e.g. *p<0.05, 137±22), except where a sign is surrounded by text (for example: high-fat × zinc interaction; mean ± SD) or is in a multipart unit (mmol/l × min)
    • En dashes for number ranges, etc.
    • Add commas in values >999 (e.g. 1,000 10,498)
    • True multiplication signs, degree symbols, etc.
    • Abbreviations not in italics. If they are in a list, arrange alphabetically and separate with commas and semicolons, e.g.
      FFM, fat-free mass; PAD, peripheral arterial disease; RER, respiratory exchange ratio
    • Abbreviations such as NA (not available or not applicable), ND (no data) and NT (not tested) may also be used where appropriate and should be explained in the table footnotes
  • Table headers
    • Table 1(emspace)One sentence of text (no full stop)
  • Table footnotes
    • Arrange each distinct footnote on a separate line (no full stop at the end of each footnote) and in an appropriate order, e.g.
      Data are means±SEM
      Explanation of superscript letters (preferably one per line)
      Statistical information (p values, etc.)
    • Superscript letter(no space)text
  • Figure legends
    • Fig. 1(emspace)Text(no full stop)
    • Letters to indicate panels are in bold and are enclosed in brackets (non-bold). e.g.
      Fig.3(emspace)(a) Respiratory exchange ratio and (b) electron transport
    • Figure symbol descriptors not in italics (e.g. black squares, high-fat diet) (the typesetters cannot accept pictorial symbols – they must be written out)

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Text boxes

  • Style as a table (Insert/Table) with a single cell, or with a separate row for heading
  • Spelling: Text box
  • Text in Times New Roman 11 pt, left-aligned
  • Line spacing 1.0 (text and footnotes)
  • Heading (if included) in bold
  • Column headers (if included) roman, not bold, with rule below
  • No full stop at end of each section
  • Include any footnotes within the text box
  • No lines of space between sections; paragraph spacing after 6pt throughout (Format/Paragraph/Indents and Spacing)
  • No internal gridlines
  • Border line weight 0.75
  • Remove any font colouring or highlighting (this has to be done specifically on each textbox, not as a global change for the whole paper)
  • See examples of text boxes

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  • References in the text should be given as a range when applicable, i.e. [1−5, 7]
  • Where there is reference to a paper by two authors with their names written out in the text, use 'and' rather than '&' to link them. For example: ' … shown by Sawyer and Gale [39] … '
  • Citations in a table or figure legend that do not also occur in the text should EITHER be listed at the end of the reference list OR listed in numerical order at the position of the first call out to that figure or table in the main text. Either system is acceptable, but authors should be consistent
  • Page numbers are always given in full, i.e. 1074−1083 not 1074−83
  • Article and book titles should be all lower case except for an initial capital on the first word and proper nouns, protein and chemical symbols, trial acronyms etc.
  • There is no need to convert round brackets to square ones, nor to convert hyphens to en rules (the typesetters will do this automatically)
  • Please avoid unlinking fields if the reference list has been created in Endnote, as this would make it difficult for the author to make further changes to the references.
  • Take out part numbers in references. A quick way to do this is to search through the list (turn track changes off temporarily, leave 'Replace with' box empty) with:
    Find: \([0-9]{1,5}\)
    Use wildcards: ticked
  • There is no need to worry about formatting (e.g. positioning of year, abbreviation of journal titles) − as long as all information is present then typesetters will do the rest; however case, page numbers, the number of authors given before et al etc. will still need to be changed by copy-editors
  • If there are more than six authors, change reference to name of first three authors followed by et al (house style is for no full stop after 'et al' in reference list, but the typesetters will remove any full stops automatically. Note, however, that in the text 'et al' should not have a full stop)
  • Scan references for potential problems and, where possible, correct any mistakes by checking on PubMed or raise as an author query
  • There is no need to abbreviate written-out journal names as the typesetters will do this automatically. However, if abbreviations have been given but look incorrect refer to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) for correct journal abbreviations
  • The language that a paper is printed in (if not English) should be specified after the page number, in square brackets, e.g. … in type 1 diabetic patients. Diabetologia 45:212–215 [article in Japanese]. The title may be given in English or in the original language
  • The style for a whole book is: Authors (year) Title, edition. Name and location of publishers. For example:

    Ekoe JM, Zimmet P, Williams R (2001) The epidemiology of diabetes mellitus: an international perspective. Wiley, Chichester

  • The style for a chapter from a book is: Authors (year) Chapter title. In: editors' names and initials (eds), Title of book, vol. no. Name and location of publishers, page range [if available]. For example:

    Hopper JL (2000) Why 'uncommon environmental effects' are so uncommon in the literature. In: Spectator TD, Sneider H, MacGregor AJ (eds) Advances in twin and sib-pair analysis, 1st edn. Oxford University Press, London, pp 151-165

  • The style for supplements is: Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 25(Suppl 5): S56−S62, i.e. round brackets, no space
  • The style for website URLs is: Authors (year) Title. URL, accessed date. 'http://' may be deleted if the URL includes 'www'. The access date should be included for all websites. For example:

    European Medicines Agency, Committee for Proprietary Medicinal Products (2002) Note for guidance on clinical investigation of medicinal products in the treatment of diabetes mellitus. Available from www.emea.europa.eu/pdfs/human/ewp/108000en.pdf. Accessed 17 Apr 2008

  • The style for archived website URLs is to include '(archived)' in parentheses after the access date. For example:

    ISD Scotland (2009) General practice – Quality & Outcomes Framework (2009/2010). Available from www.isdscotland.org/isd/3305.html. Accessed 15 Mar 2011 (archived)

  • The style for a reference available online but not yet in print is to include a DOI number, for example:
    … Diabetologia doi: 10.1007/s00125-009-1361-4
  • The style for a reference including an erratum is, for example:

    Turnbull FM, Abraira C, Anderson RJ et al (2009) Intensive glucose control and macrovascular outcomes in type 2 diabetes. Diabetologia 52: 2288–2298. Erratum 52:2470

  • The style for Cochrane reviews (see http://www.thecochranelibrary.com/view/0/index.html) is, for example:

    Siebenhofer A, Plank J, Berghold A et al (2006) Short acting insulin analogues versus regular human insulin in patients with diabetes mellitus. Cochrane Database Syst Rev, Issue 2, Art. no.: CD003287. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003287.pub4

  • The Cochrane review handbook is referenced as follows:

    Higgins JPT, Green S (eds) (2011) Cochrane handbook for systematic reviews of interventions 5.1.0 [updated March 2011]. The Cochrane Collaboration. Available from www.Cochrane-handbook.org.

  • The style for package inserts is to include '[package insert]' as well as the date, manufacturer details and location; the URL for the package insert may also be included, for example:

    Cialis [package insert] (2003). Indianapolis, IN: Eli Lilly & Co
    Victoza [package insert] (2010). Novo Nordisk A/S. Available from www.XXX.gov.pdf. Accessed 21 Sep 2015

  • The style for patents is as below. Please see the AMA manual of style, the European Patent Office or the US Patent and Trademark Office for further details:

    Rabiner RA, Hare BA, inventors; OmniSonics Medical Technologies Inc, assignee. Apparatus for removing plaque from blood vessels using ultrasonic energy. US patent 6,886,670. 15 Mar 2005

  • The style for additional data and data sets included in a public repository should include the DOI and/or the URL specific to the DOI, for example:

    Heinonen S, Muniandy M, Buzkova J, et al (2016) Additional data for 'Mitochondria-related transcriptional signature is downregulated in adipocytes in obesity: a study of young healthy MZ twins'. figshare: https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.3806286.v1

    If data in a respoitory has not been assigned a DOI (this may depend on the repository used) it should not be cited as a reference, and instead the URL should be given in the main text, together with the access date.
  • Use the 'core name' of a publisher, e.g. Wiley instead of John Wiley. Give only one location for a publisher, using either the first supplied in the manuscript (if more than one is given) or the publisher's main location
  • Use 'in press' only in place of volume and page numbers that are not yet available [e.g. … JAMA (in press)], not as a substitute for the (probable) year of publication or for a journal name, both of which are required. Add an author query asking for publication details or DOI. If the paper is 'in press' and no DOI is available, then we require written confirmation of acceptance
  • Abstracts are allowed only for the current year and the preceding year. If the author uses older abstracts, use an author query to ask for a full reference. If this is not available, the data will be cited as 'unpublished results' or 'unpublished data' (whichever the author prefers). (See section below on obtaining written consent.) We allow for more flexibility in meta-analysis and systematic review papers: if you find an older abstract there please let us know
  • The format for references that are abstracts is the same as for journal articles but with (Abstract) after the page numbers
  • We allow reference to unpublished and ongoing work in the main text but not in the reference list. If references are made to unpublished results by one or a number of the authors of the manuscript, these should include the author's name and should be written in parentheses, e.g. (J. Smith, unpublished data) or (J. Smith, unpublished results). The terms 'unpublished data' or 'unpublished results' are preferable to alternatives such as 'manuscript submitted for publication'. Personal communications are also inserted in the main text, not in the reference list (e.g. J. Smith, Department of Medicine, University of Bristol, UK, personal communication)
  • Written consent is needed if the person referred to in regard to unpublished results or in a personal communication is not one of authors. Raise an author query asking the author to provide written evidence of consent and details of affiliation (or to remove reference to personal communication)

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Formats for other types of articles

All types of articles include a duality of interest statement, except for In Memoriams and Book Reviews

Short communication
  • Rubric: Short communication
  • Short communications are identical to full papers in every respect, except that they have a reduced word count and restrictions on the numbers of tables and figures
  • Rubric: Editorial
  • There are no received/accepted dates. There is no abstract. There is no list of abbreviations. Keywords are optional
  • Rubric: Commentary
  • Include received/accepted dates. The inclusion of an unstructured abstract is encouraged. A list of abbreviations may be included. The inclusion of keywords is mandatory
For Debate
  • Rubric: For debate
  • Include received/accepted dates
  • Include a list of abbreviations
  • Inclusion of keywords is optional
  • Abstract is unstructured
  • The use of colour in figures is strongly encouraged
  • Rubric: Review
  • Include received/accepted dates. Include a list of abbreviations
  • The keywords should include Review
  • The abstract is unstructured
  • The use of colour in the figures is strongly encouraged
  • Rubric: Meta-analysis
  • Include received/accepted dates. Include a list of abbreviations
  • The keywords should include Meta-analysis
  • The abstract is structured
  • There is no limit on the number of references
Systematic review
  • Rubric: Systematic review
  • Include received/accepted dates. Include a list of abbreviations
  • The keywords should include Systematic review
  • The abstract is structured
  • There is no limit on the number of references
Book review
  • Rubric: Book Review
  • Book review titles are styled, for example:

    Jones F, Smith AB, Brown W (eds) The diabetic foot (second edn). Humana Press, Totowa, New Jersey, 2006
    567 pp (ISBN 2 98567 564 4). Hardcover £15

    P. White

  • There are no received/accepted dates. The printed version will include an online publication date.
  • A colour illustration of the cover of the book is always included
  • Rubric: Letter
  • The titles of comments should be styled with a unique title, for example:

    Further investigation of the metabolic consequences of fetal and early postnatal growth restriction.

    You may need to ask the author to provide this.

  • A title of a response to a comment would be styled as the unique title provided by the initial respondent (with no more than three authors listed plus et al if necessary). For example:

    Further investigation of the metabolic consequences of fetal and early postnatal growth restriction. Reply to Peters JB, Smith M, Harris P, et al [letter]

  • If the letter is a reply to two comments on an original article, the format for the title is, for example:

    Congenital rubella: citation virus or viral cause of type 1 diabetes? Reply to Honeyman MC, Harrison LC [letter] and Burgess MA, Forrest JM [letter]

  • Letters begin 'To the Editor:' with the text run on
  • There are received/accepted dates but no abstract. The inclusion of keywords is encouraged but not mandatory. Try to keep the number of abbreviations to a minimum
Research letter
  • Rubric: Research letter
  • Research letters begin 'To the Editor:' with the text run on
  • There are received/accepted dates but no abstract. The inclusion of keywords is encouraged but not mandatory. Try to keep the number of abbreviations to a minimum
  • There are no internal headings
Consensus statements (simultaneous publications with the ADA)
  • Consensus statements must include a footnote as follows (update year if necessary):

    Simultaneous publication: This article is being simultaneously published in 2009 in Diabetes Care and Diabetologia by the American Diabetes Association and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes. Copyright 2009 by the American Diabetes Association and Springer. Copying with attribution allowed for any non-commercial use of the work.

  • The ADA will use American spelling and terminology (for example HbA1c, glycemia), but normal house style for Diabetologia still applies
  • The online and print publication dates must be coordinated between Diabetologia and the ADA
Annual lectures

Named lectures, such as the Minkowski or Claude Bernard lectures, should not appear as such in the title, but should include a footnote so that it is clear that this it is an invited review based on the lecture. For example:
This review was invited based on the [Claude Bernard/Minkowski] lecture at the EASD, September 2011

In memoriam
  • Rubric: In memoriam
  • The title is styled, for example:

    [Name of deceased]: [Dates or short text]

  • A photograph is included in the left-hand column before the text

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Grammatical conventions

In this section:

Terms to avoid

  • Type 1 or type 2 diabetes associated with an animal. Re-phrase to indicate that the animal is being used as a model for type 1 or 2 diabetes in the title and at first mention in the abstract and in the main text
  • Prediabetic, unless used in a strictly temporal sense
  • Antidiabetic: replace with glucose-lowering drugs/medication (raise an author query)
  • Hypoglycaemic drug/medication: replace with glucose-lowering drug/medication. Hypoglycaemic can still be used when referring to hypoglycaemic episodes etc.
  • 'regular insulin' (American term) should be replaced by 'soluble insulin'
  • Gender (cultural term): change to sex (biological term)
  • Diabetics: use diabetic individuals or individuals with diabetes. Diabetic or diabetes patients can also be used (see next point)
  • Patients: try to avoid overuse of the term 'patient' where practical to do so; for example patient is fine where a person is being referred to in terms of their treatment, but it may be more appropriate to use 'individual' or 'person' in more general situations
  • Persons (plural): change to people
  • Subjects: as far as possible, use 'participants' or 'individuals' to convey the notion of active participation there are two exceptions:
    • where the study uses a database (and so the individuals haven't actively participated). Please retain 'subjects'
    • 'between-subject factor' and 'within-subject factor' are statistical terms and should not be replaced by between-participant and within-participant.
  • Caucasians – replace with Europids, whites or people of European extraction (see Ethnicity; raise an author query)
  • Different to – change to different from
  • Compared to – change to compared with when similarities or differences are being considered. (Compared to is used in a figurative sense, mainly in poetry)
  • # symbols, for example in manufacturers' catalogue numbers or grant numbers. Please replace these with 'no.'

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  • Use Concise Oxford Dictionary, -ise endings.
  • Use ph spelling in:
    sulphur, sulphate, sulphated
    but f in sulf(o) prefix: sulfatide, sulfotransferase, sulfonylurea
  • Note dys- (prefix meaning bad) vs dis e.g. dysregulation, dyslipidaemia
  • Note -penia (suffix meaning lack of) not -poenia, or -paenia
  • Note the following, which are spelled 'e' not 'ae':
    • postrema
    • gastrocnemius muscle
    • Hematocrit
    • hemangioma
    • erythema
  • Analyzer (not Analyser) should be written when it is part of a trade name, e.g. 'Technicon AutoAnalyzer' but not when it is not written as part of the trade name, e.g. 'autoanalyser (Technicon)' or 'a Technicon autoanalyser'
  • 'Hyperlacticacidaemia' is commonly misspelled as 'hyperlacticaemia'
  • Haematopoeisis vs haemopoeisis - use whichever form the author uses as long as it is consistent and has the UK 'haem' spelling

Preferred spellings and usage

UK vs US spelling

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  • With units of measurement always use the singular verb form:
    Five millilitres was injected
    In our opinion, 100 km is far enough
  • A value expressed as a percentage uses the singular or plural verb form depending on the noun:
    Within the group, 15% of the women were glucose intolerant
    Within the group, 15% of the population was glucose intolerant
  • The verb in either/or and neither/nor constructions should always agree with the noun nearest to it:
    Either nausea or headache is ...
    Neither glucose nor HDL-cholesterol was increased by exercise
    Neither the mouth nor the feet were affected
  • This also applies to 'and/or'
  • A 'with' phrase that is part of a nominative phrase does not determine verb number, which must agree with the grammatical subject:
    Isoprenaline given together with propranolol is effective in ...
  • The number is singular and a number of is plural:
    The number that responded was surprising.
    A number of respondents were verbose in their answers

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  • Ensure that adjectives qualify an appropriate noun, e.g.
    'Cardiac diet' should be rewritten: 'a diet for patients with cardiac disease' (a diet cannot be 'of the heart')
    'Cardiac patient' should be rewritten – a patient may be weak or depressed, but not cardiac
  • Intravenous or oral cannot be used to modify a drug name; they should be used to modify a word such as administration, or changed to adverbs

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Troublesome words


Full stops
  • The word 'number' may be abbreviated using a full stop to ‘no.’ in the body of tables and figures only. Do not use the number sign (#)
  • Use the full stop as a decimal indicator (r = 0.75) – not a decimal comma
  • Abbreviations require full stops, but contracted words do not. To make the distinction, contractions finish with the same letter as the full word; so, versus contracts to vs (not vs.), Doctor to Dr, Saint to St, Junior to Jr
  • Use a comma before 'respectively', for example:
    … the apples and bananas were green and yellow, respectively.
Quotation marks
  • Single quotes should be used in preference to double quotes
  • Use unspaced em dash rather than spaced en dash
  • Our policy is for minimal hyphenation. There is no hyphen in beta cell, even if used adjectivally. There are no hyphens between values and units, e.g. 3 ml tube not 3-ml tube; 6 week checkup, not 6-week checkup; but hyphenate 6-day-old mice (to avoid confusion)
  • Hyphenate a compound containing:
    • a noun/adverb and a participle that together make up an adjective if they precede the noun, but not if they follow the noun, e.g.
      decision-making methods
      methods of decision making
    • An adjectival phrase when it precedes the noun, but not if it follows the noun:
      end-to-end anastomosis
      the anastomosis was end to end
    • An adjective and noun when they precede and modify another noun, but not when they follow a noun:
    • upper-class values        the values were upper class
      low-density resolution    the resolution was low density
    • Prefixes that precede a proper noun
      anti-American demonstration
    • Numbers from 21 to 99 (i.e. compound numbers) when written out (e.g. at the start of a sentence):
      Thirty-six patients were examined
    • Fractions:
      A two-thirds majority was needed
    • When two or more compounds have a common base, omit the base in all but the last. In unhyphenated compounds written as one word, there is no need to repeat the base:
      10- and 15-year-old boys
      HDL- and LDL-cholesterol were measured
      Macro- and micronutrients were analysed
    • Use hyphens to avoid ambiguity:
      a small-bowel constriction (constriction of the small bowel)
      a small bowel constriction (a small constriction of the bowel)
    • Furthermore, the unhyphenated word may have a different meaning
    • re-treat       retreat
      re-creation   recreation

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  • In the text, the ordering of parentheses is ([ ]), for example:

    … the patient's energy intake was measured (40 kJ/kg [10 kcal/kg]) …

  • In mathematical terms, the ordering is [()], for example:

    z = k[(a + b) - y(c + d)]

  • The ordering will only change if the style of bracket is essential to the meaning or format, for example [14C]glucose

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  • Blots: Southern blot has a capital 'S' because it was named after Professor Southern. Other types of blots (western blotting, northern blotting) have a lower case initial letter
  • Use a capital letter after a numerical or Latin prefix at the start of a sentence, for example:
    2,3-Dihydroglycerol was added …
    trans-Fatty acids are found …

Small capitals

  • Used for prefixes in chemical formulas, such as l for laevo and d for dextro, e.g. d-fructose. You need to have the letter styled as lower case before or after adding the ‘small caps’ format, otherwise the small capitals will appear as normal capitals on-screen

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  • Abbreviations and acronyms should be defined at first mention in the Abstract and main text, in the same way, and added to the abbreviations list if they occur more than once.
  • An abbreviation is a shortened or contracted representation of a word or phrase. For a list of abbreviations accepted without explanation, see accepted abbreviations
  • An acronym is a word formed from the initial letters or groups of letters of words in a set phrase or series of words. Acronyms are pronounced as words (e.g. ELISA: enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay). (Avoid ELISA assay)
  • Read abbreviations as separate letters, e.g. an RR not a RR. However, use a (not an) before the abbreviations SNP (pronounced 'snip') and ROC (pronounced 'rock')
  • The use of single letter abbreviations for amino acids, e.g. DEAD box protein, where D, E, A, D stand for individual amino acids (aspartic acid, glutamic acid, alanine and aspartic acid, respectively), is acceptable
  • Abbreviations should not be defined in the title of the paper or in headings or subheadings. In this case, retain the full version in the heading and define at first mention in the text. The abbreviation should be used in the headings from then on. For example:
    The role of fasting blood glucose level The role of fasting blood glucose (FBG) level in the weight gain of the mice …
    However, if there are complex or numerous abbreviations (particularly protein abbreviations) in the title or headings, it is sometimes clearer to retain the abbreviations in the title/heading, provided they are clearly defined in the text and abbreviations list: e.g.
    RANKL-OPG and RAGE modulation in vascular calcification and diabetes: novel targets for therapy
    reads better than:
    Receptor activator for nuclear factor κB ligand-osteoprotegerin and receptor for AGE modulation in vascular calcification and diabetes: novel targets for therapy
    Raise it as a query for the Editorial Office if you are unsure.
  • If abbreviations are used for apolipoproteins, use the format: ApoA-II, ApoB-100, etc.
  • For trial names in English write the trial name out in full and then add the abbreviation in parentheses at first mention in the text. For trial names not in English the abbreviation should be used first, then the written-out form given in parentheses [e.g. PREDIMED (Prevencion con Dieta Mediterranea)]

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  • Use numbers in lists that follow a colon and separate them by a semicolon: (1); (2); (3) not (i), (ii), (iii)

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Scientific conventions

In this section:

Units and spacing

  • The typesetters will insert spacing between units and symbols automatically so there is no need to format them. There will be a space between the number and unit symbol except in the case of degrees, % and ‰, e.g.
    3 mg
    but 37ºC, 9%
  • Note that the units for blood pressure are closed up: mmHg
  • House style is for no space around mathematical symbols (±, ×, =, >, :, etc). Again, this will be done automatically by the typesetters. For example:
    8×9 [use multiplication symbol × not letter x]
    1:4 ratio
    >10 mm
  • Multiple units are formatted as number/unit or number unit−1 unit−1 (house style is to separate units from each other by spaces, not centred dots), e.g. 15 m/s, 25 mg kg−1 day−1
  • Put brackets round compound parts of the units for clarity. For example:

    ng (100 ml FAV)–1 min–1

  • The percentage sign should be repeated in pairs of values (e.g. 3.5% vs 6%), but need not be repeated for ranges (e.g. 3.5−6%), or for other units (e.g. 6.7 vs 8.9 mmol/l)
  • There are no units for ratios if the numerator and denominator have the same units. If the if the numerator and denominator do not have the same units, then the ratio will have units. For example:

    The ratio of energy intake to energy expenditure: both terms are in kJ/day, and so the ratio has units [kJ/day]/[kJ/day], which simplifies to no units (cancel out)

    The albumin/creatinine ratio (ACR): the numerator is mg/l, the denominator is mmol/l, so the units are [mg/l]/[mmol/l], which can be simplified to mg/mmol

  • Units of measure are not abbreviated when they are not preceded by a numeral:
    ... is measured in milligrams per litre
  • House style is to use SI units throughout.
  • We only insist on SI units for circulating levels of glucose, insulin, etc. (e.g. blood, urine, plasma), but not for tissue levels (e.g. liver, pancreas, etc.)
  • Check especially for the following in the text, tables and figures:
    serum insulin (should be pmol/l, but doses of insulin may be in U)
    serum glucose (should be mmol/l)
    radioactivity (should be Bq not Ci)
    energy (should be kJ not kcal). For dietary energy, the non-SI units (kcal) may be placed in parentheses after the SI units (note also: low-energy diet, not low-calorie diet; however VLCD [very low calorie diet] is acceptable as the term is widely used – it should be defined as 'a diet very low in energy [very low calorie diet, VLCD] at first mention)
    centrifuge speed (should be g not rev/min or rpm; please note 'g' in italics to distinguish it from grams; shaker speed can be in rev/min)
  • HbA1c should be reported in dual units (both % and mmol/mol), for example:
    HbA1c level was 5% (31 mmol/mol)
    Where the author gives HbA1c value in % only, use the standard author query to ask to author to provide the additional value in parentheses (you may need to show these in a separate row in a table). If the value is shown in % in a figure, you should add the following to the figure legend:
    To convert values for HbA1c in % to mmol/mol, subtract 2.15 and multiply by 10.929, or use the conversion calculator at www.diabetes.co.uk/hba1c-units-converter.html
    Please note that Sweden and Japan generally use alternative methods for calculating HbA1c in %; if the study includes data from either of these countries, please add the additional author queries, as appropriate
  • The use of 'parts per million' (ppm) is acceptable for mass spectrometry
  • Insulin doses are given in U not IU
  • Use the conversion 1 kcal = 4.184 kJ for dietary energy (see Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2003) Food energy - methods of analysis and conversion factors. FAO food and nutrition paper 77. Rome, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (available from ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/006/y5022e/y5022e00.pdf))
  • Values in ppm or ppb should also be given in SI units
  • Values for NEFA can be given in mmol/l or mEq/l (analysed fatty acids are a mixture of undetermined molecular masses so mmol/l is not strictly correct)
  • Values in deciliters (dl) are generally not acceptable:
    amino acids (should be µmol/l not mg/dl)
    glucose, lipoproteins, LDL-/HDL-cholesterol (should be mmol/l not mg/dl)
    C-peptide (should be nmol/l not ng/dl)
    cortisol (should be nmol/l not µg/dl)
    glucagon (should be ng/l not pg/ml)
    with some exceptions:
    lipoprotein a [Lp(a)] is generally given in mg/dl
    blood flow across the arm is generally given as dl or ml per unit of time
    Non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) can be given in mmol/l, mg/l or mEq/l
  • JAMA's website includes SI units for standard biochemical components (raise the conversion as an author query)
  • When the authors denote mol/l as 'M' (or 'N') in concentrations it should be changed as follows (N values do not always stay the same – check with the author):
    M → mol/l
    mM → mmol/l
    µM → µmol/l
    nM → nmol/l
  • Molecular mass is given in kDa. Relative molecular mass (Mr) has no units. Molecular weight is often used incorrectly to mean molecular mass. Raise an author query
  • Relative units are defined against a specific variable (e.g. relative to a standard or control values). Arbitrary units are typically not defined
  • The format for weight/volume is wt/vol. (upright, not italic). (Also vol./vol., wt/wt)
  • The units for the area under the curve are the y-axis units multiplied by the x-axis units, e.g. the units glucose AUC are mmol/l × min
  • The HOMA index has no units. We cannot accept the equation written out with non-SI units. If the author provides the equation in non-SI units, raise an author query asking the author to provide the equation with SI units, bearing in mind that the constant will also be altered (a fixed constant for all papers cannot be provided as insulin assays vary in their standardisation and in their cross-reactivity with proinsulin species). Note that the value of the index does not change and there is no re-calculation required. Alternatively, the author can omit the equation and simply provide a reference. If they used the computer-generated index, the website can be referred to directly (www.dtu.ox.ac.uk) (see Levy et al 1998)
  • The units for insulin sensitivity index (glucose infusion rate/plasma insulin per unit body surface area per time) are µmol m−2 min−1 (pmol/l)−1. It may also be expressed on a body weight basis: µmol kg−1 min−1 (pmol/l)−1. This can also be written as µmol kg−1 min−1 pmol−1 × l.

    The MINMOD program generates the insulin sensitivity index in non-SI units (× 10−4 min−1 [µU/ml]−1 or [µU/ml]−1 × min−1). To enable comparison with other papers, we can allow these units, but add a conversion factor to the text (or a table footnote):

    To convert values to SI units multiply by 0.167

  • Under the same circumstances, the disposition index (DI) can be given without units, but add a statement that DI is calculated as the insulin sensitivity index generated by the MINMOD program ([µU/ml]−1 × min−1) multiplied by AIRg (pmol/l × min); alternatively, if AIRg is also generated by MINMOD, units can also be given in MINMOD format (mU/l x min) and a statement can be added:

    To convert AIRg and DI to SI units, multiply by 6

  • M value (marker of insulin sensitivity): M in italics, no hyphen. Units are µmol kg−1 min−1 or µmol m−2 min−1 or µmol/min)
  • Insulin secretion rate (ISR) units are l/min

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  • In running text with non-unit quantities, use words and numerals for numbers as described here: one to ten, 11, 12, 13, ... , n
    first to tenth, then 11th, 12th, 13th, ... , nth ('th' is not superscript)
    twofold to tenfold, then 11-fold, 12-fold, 13-fold, ... , n-fold (4.5-fold)
    one million, 1.3 million
  • Use a numeral if the context of the number is mathematical or followed by a unit: a factor of 3, a multiple of 5, a ratio of 1:4 (but four times as much), 5 mm, 5 days
  • House style is to use a comma to separate groups of three digits to the left of the decimal point (if any) for numbers greater than 9999 (e.g. 64,000 and 12,299). This will be formatted automatically by the typesetters so there is no need to add commas to numbers when copy-editing, except on figures, in figure legends and in table headers and footnotes, as these are not formatted by the typesetters. Commas are not generally included for genetic base pair positions. Proofreaders should not ask for commas to be replaced by thin spaces
  • Make sure there is a value before a decimal point (i.e. 0.37, not .37)
  • Numbers should always be expressed as words at the beginning of a sentence. Rewording may be easier (e.g. 'Thirty of 68 patients...' or 'Of 68 patients, 30 ...'). Chemical names are an exception to this rule ('5-Methylsulfadiazine was added ...')
  • Repeat all digits in a series or range (e.g. 1960–1975 and 29,143–145,147)
  • Spans of large (or very small) numbers (e.g. 1–2 × 107) should be expanded (e.g. 1 × 107 – 2 × 107) for clarity if that is the intended meaning

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  • If a unit is preceded by a numeral make the following changes:
    Hours/hrs change to h
    minutes to min
    seconds to s
  • Days, months, weeks, years are always written in full
  • 24 hour clock: use format 15:00 hours (with colon)

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  • Express dates as: day month year (e.g. 9 September 1979)
  • Year ranges should be written out in full (e.g. 1995–1997)

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Statistics and confidence intervals

df degrees of freedom
N sample size of population
n sample size of subgroup
p statistical probability
r bivariate correlation coefficient
R multivariate correlation coefficient
r2 bivariate coefficient of determination
R2 multivariate coefficient of determination
t Student's t statistic (determined using Student's t test)
U Mann–Whitney U (Wilcoxon) statistic (determined using Mann–Whitney U (Wilcoxon) test
  • Ratios: house style is for a closed-up colon or solidus for ratios, e.g. total cholesterol:HDL-cholesterol or albumin/creatinine ratio. Spaces around the colon or solidus will be removed automatically by the typesetters
  • Chi-squared should always be referred to as χ2 written with a Greek lower case letter χ and superscript 2, as it refers to a variable
  • Student's t test – published under the pseudonym Student so always capital S, apostrophe between t and s and t in italics with no hyphen
  • Do not use an equals sign for OR, HR, RR or CI (for example, OR 4.3 [95% CI 4.0, 4.6])
  • The format for confidence intervals is: CI 96, 103
  • Do not include a colon in 95% CIs (e.g. 95% CI 4, 12 not 95%CI: 4, 12)
  • Use a multiplication sign for group interactions (for example, diet × time rather than diet-by-time)
  • RR is the standard abbreviation for relative risk, also sometimes referred to as risk ratio. Authors occasionally use RR as an abbreviation for 'rate ratio', which is a slightly different measure. Rate ratio should always be written in full throughout, and not abbreviated

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  • Ask the author which base logs are to if not specified. We prefer to use loge rather than In (see commonly used queries)

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  • Latin and foreign terms that appear in the Oxford English Dictionary (e.g. in vitro) should be written in roman script rather than italics, and used sparingly. Species names should still be italic.

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Mathematical symbols and equations

We can accept equations written in Word or in Equation Editor, but you may need to adjust the formatting. If you have Equation Editor, you can access it by selecting Insert/Object, then under the Create New tab, choose Microsoft Equation. If you don't have it, or are uncertain how to use it, ask us to format the equation as necessary. Variables should be in italics (check that the values in the equations match those in the text) and constants in roman. Lower case and upper case Greek symbols are upright, non-italic. There is no punctuation around the equation:
HOMA equation

  • Mathematical symbols should generally be retained in prose and e.g. ' ×3', not 'multiplied by 3', 'Δ' not 'delta'
  • Italicise the abbreviation for acceleration due to gravity, g, to distinguish it from g for gram. It should not be preceded by ×
  • Maximum oxygen consumption is styled as VO2max with overdot on the V (copy and paste the terms from Equation Editor)

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Chemical nomenclature

Element symbols and names
  • Names and symbols (e.g., iron, Fe) may both be used in running text; symbols do not need defining
  • When many elements or compounds are mentioned or discussed together, it is often clearer and saves space to use the symbols
  • When ions are being discussed, the symbol is sometimes more precise and usually shorter (e.g., Fe2+, Fe3+, not iron ions)
  • When elements or compounds are mentioned relatively infrequently, use of symbols interferes with the flow of the writing and the spelled out name is preferable
  • If chemical bonds are used in running text, use en dashes. e.g. CH3–COOH
  • Note: In protein structures featuring the three-letter amino acid abbreviations, hyphens are used, not en rules
  • Symbols for elements that occur as locants (i.e., the portion of a chemical name that designates the position of an atom or group in a molecule) in chemical names are set in italics. This rule covers any single capital letter except the small caps d or l (these refer to configurations). For example:
  • However, when a chemical name is not used, the element symbol remains roman. For example:
    N-linked glycan
    N-terminal, N-terminus or N terminus
  • Symbols for configuration or rotation precede the name of the compound and are joined to it by a hyphen. The symbols are d, l, and dl (italics) or (+), (–), and (±) for optical rotation; d, l, or dl (small capitals) for configuration in carbohydrates and amino acids; and R and S (italics) for absolute configuration. For example:
  • Symbols (numbers, Greek letters, etc.) are separated with hyphens, even in fairly simple structures such as α-amino acids
  • Other prefixes indicating configuration that should be marked for italics include:
  • These prefixes may also be used alone in the text without being attached to a specific chemical name and should also be marked for italics. For example:
    ... encoding a trans-acting product
    ... ortho coupling
    ... via the meta pathway
  • Latin and Greek prefixes are set in Roman type and closed up to the word
    Latin: di, tri, tetra, penta, hexa, hepta, octa, nona, deca
    Greek: bis, tris, tetrakis, pentakis, hexakis, heptakis, octakis, nonakis, decakis
  • The first letter of the chemical name should be capitalised at the beginning of a sentence. When a prefix is at the beginning of a name that starts a sentence, capitalise the first letter of the chemical name itself. For example:
    S-Benzyl-N-phthalocysteine was added
  • Use n rather than the Greek letter omega (ω) in fatty acid nomenclature (e.g. n-3 fatty acids, 18:2 n-6)
Ions, nuclides and other species
  • Ionic charges are indicated by superscript numbers and plus and minus signs. For example:
    Zn2+ (not Zn++ or Zn+2)
    PO42– (note that the superscript should be placed outside the subscript, not aligned with it)
  • Style vitamins as 'vitamin B12', 'vitamin D3' etc.
  • Chemical names, such as cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) are also acceptable
  • Written-out version of L-NAME is Nω-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (note that both capital Ls are small capitals)
  • '-tropin' is preferred to '-trophin' for peptide hormones (e.g. neurotropin) (see recommendation of IUPAC-IUB CBN)
  • The addition of '+' to indicate 'positive' is acceptable and does not need to be defined, e.g. insulin+, CD4+

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  • For simple molecules the labelling is indicated by writing the chemical formula with the prefixed superscripts attached to the atomic symbol (i.e. 14CO2)
  • For more complex formulas the symbol for the isotope is placed in square brackets in front of the name (closed up), e.g. [14C]urea
  • In a complex formula the isotope should relate to the appropriate part of the molecule, e.g. deoxycytidine 5'-[32P]triphosphate not [32P]deoxycytidine 5'-triphosphate; 2-deoxy[3H]glucose not 2-[3H]deoxyglucose
  • If the isotope appears in more than one position, the number of labelled positions is added as a right-hand subscript, e.g. [14C2]glycolic acid. If the isotope is uniformly distributed among the positions the symbol ‘U’ is used, e.g. [U-14C]glucose. If it is generally distributed among the positions, but not necessarily uniformly, then [14C]glucose is sufficient
  • Where the native compound does not contain the atom labelled, the square brackets are not used. Instead it is written as, for example, 131I-labelled insulin, not [131I]insulin. Similarly, 14C-labelled amino acids should not be written as [14C]amino acids as the amino group does not contain C

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  • Drugs can be referred to by several names, including the non-proprietary name (generic), the proprietary name (brand name, trademark – selected by the manufacturer of the drug), the chemical name, the unofficial name or the code designation
  • Except at the beginning of a sentence, non-proprietary (generic) names are in lower case. Proprietary names have an initial capital. Consult the British National Formulary (BNF)
  • Recommended International Non-proprietary Names (rINNs) for drugs should be used instead of British Approved Names (BANs). A list of former BANs and their corresponding rINNs is available
  • An exception to this rule: adrenaline and noradrenaline are the official names used by EU members, so adrenaline and noradrenaline should be used throughout, but epinephrine or norepinephrine should be added in parentheses at first mention in the abstract and in the text.
  • Anti-diabetic drugs should be edited to glucose-lowering drugs or hypoglycaemic drugs. Add a note to the query sheet to let the author know
  • Replace ‘glyburide’ by ‘glibenclamide (known as glyburide in the USA and Canada)’
  • Insulin and insulin analogues: please ensure authors have included supplier details and trade names for any forms of insulin or insulin analogues used in the study

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Disease and disease classification

  • If the author uses the classification ICD-10 without an explanation, reference or website link, add the website link: www.who.int/classifications/icd/en/
  • (notify author on query sheet)
  • There is no need to add/ask for a reference for the Friedewald equation if one is not provided
  • Note Charcot's disease (with an apostrophe) but Charcot foot (without apostrophe)

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Taxonomy and nomenclature

  • Diabetologia uses standard taxonomic styling (see CSE Manual of Scientific Style and Format manual). To summarise:
  • For animals, plants and bacteria:
    • Names of taxa at genus level and below are in italics
    • Names of taxa at family level and above are in Roman type
    • Species should generally be referred to using the binomial at first mention: genus and species name, in italics, with initial capital for the genus name but not the species name, e.g. Staphylococcus aureus
    • Subsequent mentions can be abbreviated, e.g. S. aureus
    • Latin vernacular names are often used for certain species, and are neither italicised nor capitalised. e.g. Drosophila melanogaster is the species binomial, Drosophila refers to the genus, and drosophila is the vernacular name
  • For viruses:
    • Virus species do not normally have Latin names, but the formal virus name (as approved by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses [ICTV]) is written in italics and the first word is in capitals, e.g. Maize dwarf mosaic virus
    • Genus names are not generally included in virus species names
    • This system is not universal, and many researchers of medically important viruses do not use the italic style. If the author has been consistent, there is no need to make changes
    • This system of italics and capitalisation is only used in a taxonomic sense, and virus names are often used in the vernacular, and have neither italics nor initial capitals, e.g. poliovirus
    • Genus names used in the vernacular sense are also non-italic and not capitalised, e.g. enterovirus
  • Raise a query for the Editorial Office or the authors if you are unsure

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  • Use alpha and beta cell, but use Greek symbols for chemicals and statistical terms
  • The names of dyes have all initial capitals, e.g. Trypan Blue, Congo Red
  • For magnification, the multiplication sign should come before the value, for example: magnification ×2.5
  • For saline solution, add '154 mmol/l NaCl' in parentheses at first mention in abstract and in text
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Genes and proteins

  • Gene symbols are referred to in italic text. Human genes are upper case (e.g. HOX1); rat or mice genes are lower case, but with an initial capital letter (e.g. Hox1)
  • Protein abbreviations are generally upper case non-italics regardless of species (e.g. HOX1). However, there are some exceptions where a mixture of upper and lower case are used, such as Akt, eIF, Apo, MafA and mTOR. Restriction and modifying enzymes are also an exception (see below)
  • There is no hyphen in A allele, etc
  • mRNA and cDNA should be referred to in italic text using the correct gene symbol, e.g. Hox1 mRNA
  • A microRNA (miRNA) is a non-coding RNA sequence (i.e. not translated into protein) that is involved in regulating gene expression. Unlike mRNA, miRNA should not be styled in italics using a gene symbol, except where its location on the chromosome is discussed. The usual format is miR-122, miR-184 etc. 'miR-' is pronounced as a word, so write, for example, 'a miR-122-dependent pathway' but 'an miRNA'
  • Gene families are not styled in italics – only the actual gene symbol, e.g. 'Hox genes such as Hox1'
  • Please check all gene symbols using Entrez Gene. Where the author uses an older or alternative name (alias), include the official gene symbol in parentheses at first mention in the Abstract and main text, e.g. Pkb (also known as Akt1)
  • Both genes and proteins can be referred to as being expressed in the cell in general terms. However, when discussing protein quantification, for example in a western blot or quantified micrograph, the terms 'levels' or 'content' are preferred.
  • Do not include gene symbols in the abbreviations list (but do include abbreviated protein names)
  • There is no need for the protein abbreviation to ‘match’ the gene symbol (i.e. do not change the protein abbreviation)
  • Note also: db/db mice (or ob/ob, fa/fa), etc
  • UCP1–/– mice should be written as Ucp1–/– mice, with –/– in upright font
  • 18S RNA is styled upright as it is the written-out gene name. The gene symbol Rn18s (or RN18S for humans) is styled in italics as usual
  • NF1A-MODY, GCK-MODY (no italics): stands for MODY due to a mutation in HNF1A, GCK, etc
  • ß-Actin, which is often used as a housekeeping gene, is a written-out gene name, so it does not need to be italicised or capitalised (the up-to-date gene symbol is Actb for rat/mouse and ACTB for humans, although authors rarely use the symbol)
  • If western blots are mentioned, protein abbreviations should be used – in a western blot, a mixture of proteins are run on a gel (to separate them), transferred onto a membrane, then the protein of interest is probed for using a tagged antibody specifically against the protein. If northern blots are discussed, gene symbols should be used as these are used to measure gene expression – in a northern blot, a mixture of mRNAs are run on a gel (to separate them), transferred, then probed with a tagged cDNA directed against the mRNA sequence of interest (the cDNA has a sequence complementary to the mRNA and so the two bind together)
  • 'Knockdown' refers to the process whereby levels of a protein are reduced or temporarily wiped out, usually by using siRNA (small interfering RNA, an oligonucleotide that silences an mRNA sequence and prevents synthesis of the relevant protein). In this way, 'knockdown' refers to a protein, which is knocked down, and protein formatting should therefore be used. However, the name of the siRNA used to knock down the protein should be styled as a gene. For example, 'TCF7L2 knockdown was carried out using Tcf7l2 siRNA'
  • Structural mutations are indicated using a fairly standard code, although this code does vary between organisms. The most common and universal symbol is Δ, which indicates that the gene named has been deleted (e.g. HsdΔ)
  • The following abbreviation is accepted without explanation for the description of variants: 'c' for coding DNA sequence (e.g. c.75A>T). Similarly 'g.' (genomic), 'm.' (mitochondrial), 'r.' (RNA sequence) and 'p.' (protein sequence) are also accepted without explanation (e.g. g.476A>T, p.Lys76Asn, r.76a>u, etc) (see http://www.hgvs.org/mutnomen/recs.html)
  • For HapMap populations, CEU should be defined as follows (see http://www.hapmap.org/citinghapmap.html): Centre d'Etude du Polymorphisme (Utah residents with northern and western European ancestry)
  • A few examples of commonly used terms:
    Gene nameOld gene symbolUp-to-date gene symbol in humansUp-to-date gene symbol in mice
    Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor, gamma, coactivator 1, alphaPPARGC1PPARGC1APpargc1a
    Solute carrier family 2 (facilitated glucose transporter), member 4GLUT4SLC2A4Slc2a4

Gene sets
  • If an author uses GSEA software, the website address should be included (http://www.broad.mit.edu/gsea/) and the reference list must include two specific references:

    Subramanian A, Tamayo P, Mootha VK et al (2006) Gene set enrichment analysis: a knowledge-based approach for interpreting genome-wide expression profiles. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 102:15545-15550. Available from http://www.pnas.org/content/102/43/15545.abstract

    Mootha VK, Lindgren CM, Eriksson K-F et al (2003) PGC-1 -responsive genes involved in oxidative phosphorylation are coordinately downregulated in human diabetes. Nat Genet 34:267-273. Available from http://www.nature.com/ng/journal/v34/n3/abs/ng1180.html

  • Include the website for GenMAPP software: http://www.genmapp.org/
  • The gene set may include underscored spaces. The authors should include an explanation, for example:

    Underscoring between words in the text indicates the names of gene sets in GSEA

Citing genetic analysis software
  • SHEsis software (http://analysis.bio-x.cn/SHEsisMain.htm). The following reference should also be cited:

    Shi YY, He L (2005) SHEsis, a powerful software platform for analyses of linkage disequilibrium, haplotype construction, and genetic association at polymorphism loci. Cell Res 15:97-98

    If the haplotype analysis function is cited, then the following reference should be cited in addition to Shi & He:

    Li Z, Zhang Z, He Z et al (2009) A partition-ligation-combination-subdivision EM algorithm for haplotype inference with multiallelic markers: update of the SHEsis (http://analysis.bio-x.cn). Cell Res 19:519-523

  • PLINK software (http://pngu.mgh.harvard.edu/~purcell/plink/). The following reference should also be cited:

    Purcell S, Neale B, Todd-Brown K et al (2007) PLINK: a toolset for whole-genome association and population-based linkage analysis. Am J Hum Genet 81:559-575

  • Genetic Power Calculator software (http://pngu.mgh.harvard.edu/~purcell/gpc/). The following reference should also be cited:

    Purcell S, Cherny SS, Sham PC (2003) Genetic Power Calculator: design of linkage and association genetic mapping studies of complex traits. Bioinformatics 19:149-150.

  • Alleles are alternative forms of a particular gene. Allele symbols consist of the gene symbol plus an asterisk and the allele designation. The symbol is all in capitals and italicised
  • Different alleles of the same gene are indicated using a superscript to the gene symbol. If the allele is dominant, the superscript is upper case with an initial capital letter; if the allele is recessive, the superscript is lower case
  • Alleles created using recombinant DNA techniques are often named according to how they are created (deletions, insertions, fusions, etc.) rather than their effects. A different naming scheme for proteins is sometimes seen, of the form p29Ras (especially in vertebrates). In these cases, the number indicates the size of the protein in kDa and the superscript (which must be italic) indicates the name of the gene from which the protein is produced
HLA genes
  • The gene symbols are in italics, e.g. HLA-DQB1, HLA-DQA1, HLA-DRB1. HLA is in italics because it is part of the gene symbol
  • Full allele symbols are also in italics, e.g. DQB1*06:02, DQB1*03:01
  • A change was made to HLA gene nomenclature in 2010 to take account of the high number of alleles identified. These changes are described clearly in http://hla.alleles.org/nomenclature/naming.html, which gives a useful guide to the naming system and what the different parts of the allele symbol mean.
  • If HLA alleles look like they may be in the old format, please add the standard query. The most obvious way of distinguishing between them is that alleles in the old system may contain longer strings of numbers, which would be separated by colons in the new system, e.g. HLA-DRB1*13010102 under the old system; HLA-DRB1*13:01:01:02 under the new system.
  • Gene families are always in roman, e.g. HLA genes or HLA gene region
  • Serological specificities usually feature a capital letter(s) followed by a number, e.g. A1, DR4, DQ2. They should be in roman. (A useful clue is that the methods may discuss serotyping [i.e. testing for antigens in serum] rather than genotyping)

Modifying and restriction enzymes

Previously the first three letters of modifying and restriction enzymes were italicised, but recent guidelines have recommended that italics are no longer used (see: A nomenclature for restriction enzymes, DNA methyltransferases, homing endonucleases and their genes). It is also recommended that all numerals (Roman and Arabic) are closed up. Capital T is preferred for the designation of the main types of REases as Type I, Type II and Type III. See also REBASE: the Restriction Enzyme Database

Modifying enzymes

These are enzymes that synthesise DNA and RNA (polymerases), cleave DNA (nucleases), join nucleic acid fragments (ligases), methylate nucleotides (methylases), and synthesise DNA from RNA (reverse transcriptases). Those in laboratory use come from living systems, often from the same organisms that furnish restriction enzymes. Because the names may be similar, it is essential to specify the type of enzyme, for example:
AluI methylase
Pfu DNA polymerase
TagI methylase
Taq DNA ligase

Restriction enzymes

For restriction enzymes, the first three letters indicate the genus and species from which the enzyme is derived. For example:


  • According to WHO recommendations, classes of immunoglobulins should be abbreviated by Ig (not Ig) plus a capital roman letter indicating the class (e.g., immunoglobulin G is abbreviated IgG)
  • A subclass is indicated by an Arabic numeral after the class letter (closed up, not hyphenated, e.g., IgG1, IgG3). Potentially new subclasses are designated by an abbreviation in parentheses following the class. IgG(Pr), for instance, indicates a potentially new subclass identified in Prague
  • In the WHO system, Greek gamma (γ) is used only to designate heavy polypeptide chains of IgG
  • Any of these abbreviations may begin a sentence or entry in a list or table, with no other capitalisation necessary
  • In the old system gamma- (or γ-)globulin was used as the broad description of immunoglobulins. Although this is not the preferred system, if an author follows it consistently, retain it; if the author is not consistent, use IgG. In the old system, γ-globulin is preferred to gamma-globulin. If the word begins a sentence or an entry in a table or list, capitalise G in globulin
  • Immunoglobulin chains are known as light (L) and heavy (H). They contain regions designated constant (C), variable (V), diversity (D), and joining (J). For example, the variable region of the heavy chain can be abbreviated as VH. If the gene is referred to, it should be italicised (VH); if the gene product (i.e., the chain itself) is referred to, it should be written in roman letters. Heavy chains are designated by a lower case Greek letter corresponding to the roman capital letter of the class. Light chains are divided into two types, kappa (κ) and lambda (λ). Use of the Greek letter is preferred (κ-chain)

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