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How to Write a Manuscript by Melina R. Kibbe, MD

1. General Starting Info

a. Use 1” margins all around

b. Arial, size 11 font

c. Insert page number on bottom right

d. Double space the whole document

e. Start each new section on a new page (i.e., insert page breaks for Intro, Methods, Results, etc)

2. “Instructions to the Authors”

a. Look these up for the journal you plan to submit to FIRST!!! And, READ them!!!

3. Order of Paper Writing

a. Figures and Tables first so you know what you have

b. Methods second

c. Results third

d. Figure legends fourth (or at the time you did the Figures)

e. Introduction fifth

f. Discussion sixth

g. Abstract seventh

h. Acknowledgements eight

i. References last

4. Figures

a. these should be prepared in Adobe Photoshop if possible

b. use canvas size 8.5x11”, 300 dpi for color, 600n dpi for black & white (note: most all journals require 300

dpi, but check the instructions, as a few now require 600 dpi for color

c. save the file with all layers as the psd file in Photoshop. You can then flatten and save as a TIFF or

JPEG, which ever is required by the journal.

d. Make sure the font size on all x-and y-axes are large enough for a reader with bad vision

e. Make sure all your fonts are the same. It is not acceptable to have a mix of Times new roman and Arial.

Ideally, everything should be Arial.

5. Tables

a. In MS Word, use “Table Simple 1” under the Autoformat drop down list of Tables

b. Make sure you give a title to your table

c. Tables DO NOT have legends

6. Title page

a. Include Title, authors, all affiliations of all authors (i.e., Division of Vascular Surgery, IBNAM, etc), short

running title (not always required), contact information for Melina Kibbe, and sometimes word count

(depends on journal)

7. Materials & Methods

a. Must include enough detail for someone else to reproduce your experiments

b. Use subheading for each section (i.e., Cell culture, Western blot analysis, FACS analysis, Animal surgery,

Histology, etc)

8. Results

a. Organize this section logically

b. TELL A STORY!!!!!

c. For each paragraph, state the data. Then give a sentence on the results (i.e., a statement that interprets

the data). Example: “These data suggest that xxx regulates yyy.” These types of summary statements

lead to the next paragraph well

d. Use subheadings

e. Don’t forget to refer to all of your Figures and Tables

9. Figure Legends

a. Ideally, do these at the same time you do the figures

b. Figures and figure legends must be able to stand alone, i.e., the reader should be able to read the legend

WITHOUT looking at the paper and understand what you are showing them

c. Describe all panels (i.e., A, B, C, D, etc)

d. Define any abbreviations that are in the figures

e. Include all P values, e.g., “*P=0.001; **P<0.05”

f. State n numbers, e.g., “n=3/group”

g. State how many experiments the figure represents, e.g., “Data representative of 3 separate experiments.”

h. Define arrows, arrowheads, etc.

10. Introduction

a. This section should be 2 paragraphs,…3 at most!!

b. Start with global statement about topic

c. State what is known

d. State what is unknown

e. State the goals/aims/purpose of the study

f. State hypothesis clearly

g. Remember, this is your chance to really grab the reader and get them interested in reading your paper!

h. Example: Paragraph 1 – State the problem

Paragraph 2 – State what is unknown

Paragraph 3 – State your aim and hypothesis

11. Discussion – separate in to 4 parts

a. Part 1 – Summary paragraph (1 paragraph)

i. Summarize the results of the paper, without restating the results

b. Part 2 – Compare and contrast (2-3 paragraphs)

i. Compare and contrast your data with existing literature

ii. State what is known, and what is unknown, and how your data answers those unknown questions

iii. Explain unexpected finding

iv. Explain why your data may be different from other similar published studies (e.g., we found xxx,

which is different from what Smith et al found, b/c we used a different strain of rats)

v. Describe any patterns or relationships your results show

vi. Do your results have any theoretical/practical implications?

vii. Do your results relate to other species or situations?

c. Part 3 – Limitations/Weaknesses paragraph(1 paragraph)

i. State limitations of the study from a design and from data point of view

d. Part 4 – Concluding paragraph (1 paragraph)

e. Writing technique – when writing paragraphs, don’t forgot to use proper writing style. Each paragraph

should have in introductory sentence, the middle supporting sentences, then a concluding/linking


12. Acknowledgments

a. include all funding sources

b. acknowledge any Institutes or Centers that did not go on the Title page

c. acknowledge any additional support that is not recognized in the authors

13. Abstract – Write this near the END, after the bulk of the paper is written

a. Refer to the journal guidelines for word limit and structure

b. Each journal is different. So, look at about 5 abstracts from the journal you are about to submit to in order

to see the style of the abstract

c. Some journals want lots of raw data. Other journals want generalities

14. References – according to the journal you are submitting it to.