Research & Documentation Online 5th Edition

CSE manuscript format

Although the style manual of the Council of Science Editors does not include manuscript guidelines for student papers, most instructors will want you to format your manuscript in ways consistent with common scientific practice. The following guidelines for student writers have been adapted from CSE advice directed to professional authors. When in doubt, check with your instructor. For a sample college biology paper, click here.


Materials Use good-quality 8″ 11″ white paper. Secure the pages with a paper clip.

Title Begin a college paper with an unnumbered title page. Center all information on the page: the title of your paper, your name, the name of the course, and the date. Click here for an example.

Pagination The title page is counted as page 1, although a number does not appear. Number the first page of the paper as page 2. Type the number in the top right corner of the page. Many instructors will want you to use a shortened form of the title before the page number.

Margins, spacing, and indentation Leave margins of at least one inch on all sides of the page, and double-space throughout the paper. Indent the first line of each paragraph one-half inch. When a quotation is set off from the text, indent it one-half inch from the left margin.

Abstract Many science instructors require an abstract, a single paragraph that summarizes your paper. If your paper reports on research you conducted, use the abstract to describe your research methods, findings, and conclusions. Do not include bibliographic references in the abstract.

Headings CSE encourages the use of headings to help readers follow the organization of a paper. Common headings for papers reporting research are Introduction, Methods (or Methods and Materials), Results, and Discussion. If you use both headings and subheadings for a long paper, make sure to distinguish clearly between them with your choice of typography.

Visuals A visual should be placed as close as possible to the text that discusses it. In general, try to place visuals at the top of a page.

Appendixes Appendixes may be used for relevant information that is too long to include in the body of the paper. Label each appendix and give it a title (for example, Appendix 1: Methodologies Used by Previous Researchers).

Acknowledgments An acknowledgments section is common in scientific writing because research is often conducted with help from others. For example, you might give credit to colleagues who reviewed your work, to organizations that funded your work, and to writers who allowed you to cite their unpublished work.

List of references For advice on constructing a CSE reference list, click here. For a sample list of references, click here