Research Life Will Be Much Easier If...

The scientific research is a multistep process, in which some steps are fun while some are not that pleasant. Formatting a manuscript for instance is one of the most painful steps for me.

First, I agree that manuscript formatting is important. A well-structured and visually beautiful manuscript (i.e., font family, font size, line space and figure size) could largely improve its readability. However, there are still many issues that I cannot figure out until now.

1. Why is manuscript formatting so important for the initial submission?

Before submitting your manuscript to a journal, frequently you are asked to format your manuscript according to the journal’s style requirements. This can be very time-consuming for some journals. If I know that my manuscript is going to be accepted, it is fine for me to do that (for free). But it is not always the case.

Below is one example of the format styles from Angewandte Chemie. Yes, you must format your manuscript accordingly before submission.

“Classical” double columns. Title: Arial, 16; Author list: Arial, 11; Abstract: Arial 8; Main text: Arial 8.5, and so on. I do not have patience to name all the requirements here.

manuscirpt template

Mamma mia! Poor authors, reviewers and readers! Do you really enjoy reading a manuscript with this format?

2. Why do different journals have significantly different format styles?

This is something I will never understand. To be different and unique?

Suppose that your manuscript is rejected by Angewandte Chemie, and now you are going to submit it to another journal. You will have to suffer the pain again if the second journal requires totally different format style.

Why don’t they use a standard visually-conformable format style at this electronic age?

Doing research is not easy. Lord, please spare us from the endless formatting work.

Yonghui Dong

My research interests include mass spectrometry imaging, metabolomics, chemometrics and chemical ecology.

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