This is a checklist I use for refereeing papers.  I will not subject you to it, but you may find it helpful as a series of guidelines.


___ too long
___ does not begin with a key word or contains dead words (intro to, method of, mechanism for)


___ is not an informative summary or reads like a table of contents
___ contains unneeded background


___ begin with what is new in this paper, not a platitude like thin films are important in many areas

Units, numbers, symbols

___ pls use SI units wherever practical - put SI units first and non-SI in ( ) or omit them entirely
___ insert space between digits and unit symbol (5 nm, not 5nm; 5 in, not 5in)
___ insert a centered dot between unit symbols (10 Js, not 10 Js, nor 10 J s)
___ don't use repeated slashes [J/(m2s), not J/m2/s, nor J/m2s]
___ spell in text (a few kelvins) but generally abbr otherwise (10 K)

___ don't spell some units or chemical symbols and abbr others (1 J/s or 1 joule per second, not 1 joule/s nor 1 joule/second)
___ contains naked decimal points (0.3048 not .3048)
___ pls use spaces (not commas) in long numbers (2.997 924 58, 6 022 137), both sides of decimal pt
___ don't set symbols off with commas (the force F was ..., not the force, F, ...)
___ write from A to B and between A and B not the hybrids from A-B and between A-B


___ contains private communication -- pls omit or move to acknowledgements
___ comma, period shd precede quotation marks, superscripts
___ do not precede ( ) with a comma (in references or in text)
___ include title and last page (inclusive pagination)
___ avoid et al. -- include all authors unless there are more than, say, 6

Figures, tables, equations

___ axis labels contain trailing zeroes (1 not 1.00; 2.5 not 2.50)
___ give both physical quantity and its units, both axes
___ see units, above.   ___ see trade names, below
___ lettering too small for legibility
___ don't put a box (frame) around a graph

___ align decimal pts vertically in tables, legends
___ number all equations that are set off from text

Trade names

___ pls omit unnecessary trade names & move crucial trade names to endnotes
___ pls capitalize such trade names as Pyrex, Teflon; ___ do not use ® or TM


_X_ use the active voice (incl I and we) more
___ sentences too long; write 1 thought per sentence
___ contains dangling or misplaced modifiers ([by] reading the meter, the power was measured; a fixture that ... was made, not a fixture was
        made that ...)
___ contains run-on sentences, these are sentences (like this example) joined by a comma instead of a semi-colon
___ avoid superfluous words like process, method, technique, level, basis; it is ... or it was ...; it was found that, it shd be noted [or pointed
        out] that, note that; tends to; well known; particular; namely

___ avoid circumlocutions (power was measured or we measured the power, not measurement of the power was accomplished; the bell tolls
        for thee, not there is a bell that is tolling for thee)
___ avoid freight train nouns (tendency to use nouns as adjectives, not adjective noun use tendency problem)
___ avoid compared to or compared with as a substitute for than
___ avoid respectively (A was 1, and B was 17, not A, B, C, and D were 1, 17, 9.8, and 4, respectively)
___ avoid i.e. and e.g.; use instead that is or for example. in either case, set them off by commas

___ put period outside ( ) unless a whole sentence is inside; do not precede ( ) with a comma
___ do not use single ) -- (1) not 1)    ___ do not use both period and paren -- 5. not 5.)
___ don't use commas to excess (we have a dog, and a cat; we ate, and drank; those who follow long subjects with commas, are called
___ contains inconsistent or incorrect hyphenation (usu no hyphen with 1-syllable prefixes or -ly words)

Copyright © 1999 by Matt Young. All rights reserved.
Date posted, 10/16/00.