Guidelines for Authors of Forestry In-House Publications


These guidelines are intended to help keep in-house publications internally consistent. It will save us all time in preparing publications if we aren't each forced to make the same decisions or undo what someone else has done. Many style decisions are arbitrary, and they vary from publisher to publisher. Although these guidelines for in-house publications reflect many common practices, you will have to check individual journals' style requirements before submitting anything to them.


Production Management

The Forestry Publications group works in both Word and WordPerfect. Files in either of those formats are readily usable. If you work in other software, especially for tables and figures, consult Sue Nall, who does text processing in Forestry Publications, about how to make sure your files are usable.

If you are planning to submit a manuscript for in-house publication, don't do coding or styling to make the text look a particular way. All that work must be stripped out before layout and publication, meaning a lot of time on both our parts is lost. Since uncoded and unformatted files usually run faster, we'll save time two ways (by not spending the time coding or uncoding, and by not working slowly through bogged-down files).

Numbering figures and tables: Sequentially number figures and tables separately for the whole manuscript.

Organization: Discuss data and subcategories in the same order consistently, in text, tables, and figures.

Placing figures and tables: Don't embed figures and tables. Embedding makes the files enormous, slows processing, and must be reversed before layout can be done. Within manuscript drafts, put each figure and each table on a separate page; list all figure captions on one page.

Page numbering: Make sure pages are numbered, whether electronically or by hand. Putting a date on the manuscript can be useful for tracking changes between drafts.



Commas: Always use a comma in thousands (1,000 on up) in text. In figures or tables, use a comma for >5 digits; if the manuscript includes no numerals that are >5 digits, you can omit the comma for 4-digit numbers in figures and tables.

Use a comma before "and" when three or more items are listed in series.

Hyphens and dashes: Hyphenate if a pair of nouns or a noun and adjective together (not each) modify some other word. However, if a pair is standard without the hyphen, such as real estate, don't hyphenate it.

Lists: Every list should have an intentional and apparent order. If there is no inherent order, such as chronology or mass number, use alphabetic order. If there is inherent order, mention it (for instance, declining importance).

Parentheses: Use the order {[()]} for stacked parentheses in text.

Quotation marks: Use quotation marks for quotes and when a term is being referred to as a term; don't use them to set off slang. Slang is almost never appropriate.

Place punctuation outside quotation marks unless it is part of what is being quoted.

Sentences: Leave one space after sentences. This may not be what you learned when you started typing, but as electronic publication and fonts have evolved, it has become the new convention.

Other: Prefer decimals to fractions. If referring to a subpart of the whole, as in "two-thirds of the samples were sacrificed", spell out the fraction. Use a colon (":") to mark a ratio.

For multiplication, use parentheses as first choice; use a vector dot to indicate multiplication of separate subparts of an equation. Use a "thin x" multiplication sign (2 ´ 4) in dimensions.



In general, you can communicate more effectively if you use plain English and don't try to be impressively erudite. Many of the readers of Forestry publications work out in the field and need to get information quickly, so making it easy to understand benefits them. Also English is not the first or primary language of many prospective readers. Your chances of reaching either group of readers is best if you write clearly, with minimal jargon and without complicated sentence structure.

Abbreviations: The same set of letters may mean several things, so spell words out to define the abbreviation the first time you use it. For the few terms that are more familiar (to lay people as well as specialists) as abbreviations than spelled out, like TNT and DNA, use the abbreviations.

Use periods only if the abbreviation might be mistaken for a word (e.g., "no." for "number" and "in." for "inch").

In tables, figures, or parenthetical remarks, use US Postal Service abbreviations for states (OR, WA), making sure they're the right ones.

Dates: The order of dates should be day month year, with no commas (e.g., 15 March 1994). On figures or tables, when it is necessary to abbreviate the date, use the 3-letter abbreviation of the month name in the convention dd mmm yyyy (or yy if space is tight and the context is clear).

Sexist and otherwise offensive language: Avoid using language that will offend or alienate your readers. (The more controversial your subject, the more important this is.)

Avoiding sexism does not mean automatically substituting "person" for "man" or using "he/she" constantly. It does mean using gender-neutral terms, such as "firefighter" rather than "fireman". Instead of constantly referring to "him or her", you can often rewrite a sentence in plural form and refer to "them", being careful that you use the plural forms throughout. However, if you are talking about a particular worker, that person has a gender and it is not just permissible but sensible to refer to "him" or "her".

Avoiding offensive language also means keeping in mind that people with disabilities are above all people; the terms for their disabilities, such as "blind", are modifiers, not nouns. Therefore it is appropriate to refer to "blind people" rather than "the blind".

Symbols: With a numeral, generally use the symbols "<" and ">" as modifiers rather than spelling out "less than" and "greater (or more) than". When used as modifiers, the symbols are jammed against the numeral; when used as verbs (x < y), there is a space on either side of the symbol.

Use the virgule (e.g., "1/x") rather than negative superscript (e.g., "x-1") for division.

If chemical names occur repeatedly in the manuscript, use standard chemical symbols in text as well as tables and figures. Spell them out at first use, as is done for abbreviations and acronyms.

For radionuclides, the number follows the name when it is spelled out (e.g., uranium-238) as in text; the number precedes the symbol as a superscript (e.g., 238U) where an abbreviation is necessary (tables or figures).

Trademarks: You need not use the ® symbol for any trademarks referred to. If you refer to a name that is probably a trademark, capitalize it and follow it with the generic term (e.g., Kleenex facial tissue). Provide information about brands and companies where necessary (generally for products specifically mentioned in a methods section). In other cases, use only the generic name for the product, not the brand.

Units: Abbreviate units that appear with a numeral; if a unit appears without a numeral or with a number spelled out (as at the beginning of a sentence), spell out the unit (e.g., several acres, not several ac). Abbreviate "liter" as "L", so it won't be confused with the numeral "1".

Either SI (metric) or English units may be standard; as author, you decide which applies, according to your professional conventions and expected audience (US versus anyone else), and use that throughout. However, a box of conversions should appear somewhere in the publication; its exact content depends on what is most meaningful for your manuscript.

If the manuscript has some measurements in metric and some in English, use both everywhere, with English in parentheses after the metric.

Specific terms

aboveground, belowground (one word)

Douglas-fir (hyphenated)

groundwater (one word)

lat 43°15'09"N, long 16° 40'34"E (no spaces)

surface water (as two words)

x-fold (hyphenated with numeral)

% (symbol in text as well as tables and figures)

26° C (no space between number and degree sign or between degree sign and scale)

Use "US" without periods when the term is used as a modifier; spell out "United States" otherwise. In referring to the USDA Forest Service, it is not necessary to spell out USDA even at its first appearance.

Treat the terms "media" and "data" as plural (if there's only one, use medium or data point). If readers are apt to be confused, rewrite the sentence.

In referring to decades, do not use an apostrophe (e.g., 1980s, not 1980's).

Standard abbreviations

etc. et cetera, and so forth

et al. et alia, and others

vs. versus, against, as an alternative to

e.g. exempli gratia, for example

i.e. id est, that is

Although these Latin abbreviations are standard, in many cases the phrase can be edited out, which is a means of eliminating confusion.

ac acre(s)

a.i./ac active ingredient per acre

AM, PM (morning, afternoon)

bd-ft board-foot, board-feet

cm centimeter(s)

cm3 cubic centimeter(s)

day day(s)

DBH diameter at breast height

ft foot, feet

ft2 square foot, square feet

g gram(s)

gal gallon(s)

gpa gallon(s)/acre(s)

ha hectare(s)

hr hour(s)

in. inch(es)

kg kilogram(s)

km kilometer(s)

L liter(s)

lb pound(s)

m meter(s)

MC moisture content (in %)

mL milliliter(s)

mg milligram(s)

mi mile(s)

min minute(s)

mm millimeter(s)

mo month(s)

oz ounce(s)

Pa pascal(s)

sec second(s)

wk week(s)

yd yard(s)

yr year(s)

m m micrometer(s), micron(s)



Equations: Leave a space after ln (natural log symbol).

Leave a space around operators in equations; do not leave a space after an operator used as a modifier (e.g., <50).

Do not punctuate equations.

Number all equations if any will be referred to. Enclose the number in brackets at the right margin of the center line of the equation. In text, refer to the equation as "Eq. [1]".

In the "where" list following an equation, define variables in the order of their appearance. Write the definitions as "=" the variable (e.g., x = the spot).

When an equation is complex, use parentheses to set parts off appropriately. Bracket parts of equations in the order {[()]}. If it is necessary to have a multiplication operator in addition to parentheses, use a vector dot.

All variables, whether in an equation or in running text, should be in italics. Numbers within equations should not be in italics.

Exponential or scientific notation: To clear repetition out of tables when possible, tie the notation to the unit in the heading rather than to the values, where it might be repeated hundreds of times. That will have the extra benefit of letting tables have larger fonts without taking up more space.

Non-range pairs: Treat non-range pairs of numbers as you would the range (e.g., "at 5 and 10 gpa").

Numbers in text: helvetica"> For a specific measured number that has an exact value, use the numeral. If two numbers occur in a row, for instance if you're talking about 6-m lines and there are two of them, spell out the one that's not attached to the unit (two 6-m lines).

For decimal numbers <1, use a lead zero to make sure the decimal point is visible. For integers without units, if the number is <10, spell it out. If the number is >9, use the numeral. Use greater than (>) and less than (<) symbols with numerals.

Ordinals: Spell out adjectival ordinals (e.g., first, second) in text and references; in tables and figures, abbreviation is acceptable.

Ranges: Use a dash in text as well as tables and figures (7–12). Units generally go at the end of the range or series (23–47 kV). The exception is units that are jammed against the numeral rather after a space; the jammed unit is repeated (10%–20%).

With ranges of complex numbers, show the entire complex number at either end of the range (e.g., 2.6× 105–9.7× 105).



Tell readers in the text what they are supposed to get from a figure. That will help the readers focus on the right points. It will also help in electronic publication, because many people don't pull up figures to avoid the slow process of loading the files.

Captions: A short descriptive caption should distinguish this figure from all others in the manuscript. The caption will appear in bold type and end with a period. If there is more to be explained than what is included in that, give the explanation as a non-bold sentence after the short title.

Comparisons: If there's a standard value for comparison, like compliance levels, make a dashed line across the graph to show where that is, so it's immediately obvious which values are above and below that level.

Complexity: Don't retain grids across graphs, unless you're making some point with it. If the grid is necessary, make the grid lines thinner or less bold than the data lines.

Labeling: Use upper- and lower-case type, not all capitals.

In labelling axes on graphs, use parentheses to set the unit off from the description.

Label important events in the data. For instance, for a time series that includes a spill that would affect sample content, label the time when the spill was. Use the names or abbreviations for the month names (with year breaks marked), not the length of time since some date, no matter how important that original date might be.

Label with words rather than codes as much as possible to save readers a step in interpreting what you're telling them.

Multiple figures: If the manuscript has a number of similar figures, use the same base (whether axes on a graph or the base drawing for a map) on all, so that the only thing that changes is the data, making comparison easy.

Photos: Use black-and-white prints for print publications, not color slides. The resolution that is so good in a slide is lost on paper.

Referring to figures: Spell out "Figure 1" in text (as part of a sentence or in parenthetical reference) and in captions. To refer to more than one figure, follow these conventions:

• (Figures 1, 2)

• (Figure 1A,B)

• (Figures 1–4).

Showing contrasts: Avoid Op Art juxtapositions of hatching. Shades of gray get the message to the 10% of people who are color-blind and so are preferable to color.

Contrasts in line weight should correspond to contrasts in meaning. Heavier lines should represent data, because they're what's important about the figures.

Types of figures: Use graphs rather than bar charts if you can, to get more data into the space. If several sets of data appear on one graph, use different-shaped symbols (also solid and open); if possible, also contrast lines connecting them (solid, dashed, dot-dashed).



Labelling: In column headings, use parentheses to set the unit off from the description. If your numbers are so big or so small that you need to use scientific notation, try to put it in the headings, rather than attaching it to every number in the table.

Layout: Align columns of numbers on decimal points. Left-justify columns of words.

Missing data: If you lack data in a table, include a place marker for the missing values. The marker should be consistent and its meaning (i.e., the reason for missing data) defined in a footnote to the table.

Organization: In presenting data in tables, use a consistent order, alphabetical if nothing else means more.

Keep the gaps between columns narrow, and keep the things that are most closely related closest together.

Set number comparisons vertically if possible. That layout also allows you to size the column widths appropriately for each column, instead of all being the same no matter how long or short the numbers are within them.

Referring to tables: Make sure the text says what people are supposed to get from the table. This will also help in electronic publication because people avoid loading tables.

Title: Give a short descriptive title that distinguishes this table from all others in the document. If there is more to be explained, give the explanation after the short title. Put the table title above the table. The table title should end in a period.



Acceptable references: The things referred to have to exist ("to be prepared" is insufficient), and you have to give enough information to let people find the document if they want to check on anything.

Citations: Call out references by author's name and date, with no comma between. If there are more than two authors, use the first author's name followed by "et al." (list all the names in the reference list). If you're referring to them in a sentence, remember that the names represent people, not a document (not "reported in Jones", but "reported by Jones").

Common surnames: If you have several references by different people with the same last name, whether published in the same year or not, include their initials in all callouts (so it's obvious whether you're talking about H. Smith's or J. Smith's work).

Content of list entries: Spell out complete journal titles in the reference list.

Give US publication locations as the city followed by the postal abbreviation for the state, with no comma. For foreign cities, place a comma between the city and the country. Canadian cities can be listed with only their province name. Any city should be followed by the name of its state or country, unless that name is in the name of the publishing institution (e.g., Michigan Technological University, Houghton).

In the case of references authored by organizations usually referred to by an acronym or other version of their name (e.g., ASTM), the reference should be to that familiar name and listed in that position in the reference list. The full name of the organization must appear either as the publisher, if that is appropriate, or in parentheses after the abbreviated version. In other words, even if ASTM is never spelled out in the text, it is not necessary to spell it out as the reference, and the name by which a reference is called out in the text must be exactly the name under which it appears in the reference list.


Article in book:

Wilson, DD, and ED Smith. 1967. Article title, pp. 45–68 in Another Book, TE Comile and RJ Wax, ed. New Books Publisher, Flint MI.

Article in journal:

Writer, RJ 1987. Paper title. Journal of Good Stuff 12: 37–41.

Article in proceedings:

Author, AB. 1997. Article title, pp. 34-95 in The Longest Title in the World: Proceedings of 16 Societies Meeting in a Small Room in Amsterdam, November 5-10, 1995, FA Smith and WB Rothers, ed. General Technical Proceedings 58, Agency for World Words, Toledo OR.


Jackson, JC, RJ Writer, and PR Walker. 1992. Book Title. Old Favorites Publishing, Sayville NY.

Gray literature— report:

Beazel, WC, J Asbert, SH Summer, HA Winters, and SU Perstar. 1993. Report Title. Report THF-775, Tach, Hammer, and Friends Engineering, Gallup, NM.

Gray literature— thesis or dissertation:

Wareswaldo, WR. 1998. Water in a Spring-fed Lake. MA thesis, College of Forestry, Oregon State University, Corvallis. [omit the state if it is in the name of the university]


Clean Air Act. Public Law 88-206, 42 USC 7401 et seq, as amended.

10 CFR 1021, US Department of Energy, Compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act. Code of Federal Regulations.

No author: It is rarely accurate to list an author as "anonymous"; if individuals are not credited, the agency office or publisher is listed as author.

Order in list: List references in alphabetical order by author, then by date for each author. For a given author, list sole-authored ones first, then two-author ones in alphabetical order by second author, then all with three or more authors together in order by date.

Personal communications: Personal communications should not appear in the reference list. Where one is needed, it should appear in text with a footnote indicating the authority's full name, affiliation, location, and the year of the communication.

Prolific authors: If you have several references published by the same author in the same year, label them a,b,c according to the order in which they came out, if you know that (as you would for parts 1 and 2 or in the same journal), by alphabetical order of junior authors if that's distinguishing, or by alphabetical order of the article titles if that's all we have.

Web site: Electronic journals can be included in reference list. For any other Web references, note them in text as you do for personal communications. A full citation includes the originator of the site (responsible organization or individual), the URL, and the exact date when it was accessed and contained the information reported.



Abstract: An abstract is required.

Acknowledgments: The standard form for acknowledgments is to mention first the funding source and second any readers or reviewers. The acknowledgments appear after the list of authors' affiliations and before the disclaimer on the inside front cover.

Authorship: Use the version of your names that you want to appear (the full formal name is most often expected). Make sure the names of your co-authors are also correct.

Footnotes: Footnotes rather than endnotes are standard. For footnotes in text or in tables, use the following symbols, in the order shown: *, †, ‡, §, ¶, #.

Footnotes within a publication are assigned in a single sequence, unless the publication is made up of many subparts (e.g., a proceedings). In such a complex manuscript, start a new footnote sequence in each section.

Place footnote characters outside punctuation.

Headings: Four heading levels are usually enough. In the draft, you may number them to keep them straight. However, they will not be numbered in the final publication.


Basic Layout for In-house Forestry Publications

Location Content Conditions
Cover Number in series 



Publication date

Publishing entity (e.g., FRL or SFP)

if applicable


if applicable



Inside front cover Blurb for publishing entity

Author affiliation blurb

Acknowledgments (sponsors first, then reviewers)


Ordering information






Title page Number in series



Publication date


Publishing entity

if applicable


if applicable




Back of title page Abstract

ISBN number

Copyright notice 

with standard citation

if applicable

if applicable

Table of contents Text and appendices




if five or more

if five or more

Glossary, abbreviations, conversions   if applicable
Foreword or preface   if applicable
Body of text   --
References or Literature cited   --
Appendices   if applicable
Inside back cover Affirmative action blurb --
Back cover Self mailer --




Check these books for basic information. All are fairly recent and should be easy to find at bookstores.

Dictionary: Riverside Webster's II Dictionary.

Grammar: Harbrace College Handbook, 13th edition.

Graphics: Edward Tufte's The Visual Display of Quantitative Information gives good basic guidance.

Scientific style: Scientific Style and Format: The CBE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers, 6th ed. (1994).

, The ACS Style Guide, 2nd ed. (1997).

Usage: Many guides are available. T. Bernstein's various books (e.g., The Careful Writer) are good.