American Journal of Physics®

For Contributors - Formatting the Manuscript

Sample Manuscript File

Authors are urged to use LaTeX to prepare their manuscripts, although MSWord is an acceptable alternative. The sample manuscript pdf and sample manuscript files are designed to provide a useful tutorial and template for LaTeX submissions for both new users and experts. The sample manuscript files are a .zip archive containing the LaTeX source file and two figure files that are required to produce the finished .pdf file.

General Style

The Style Manual of the American Institute of Physics, 4th ed. (1990) contains a wealth of information on the preparation of manuscripts, including advice on good writing and organization; rules for punctuation, capitalization, English usage, and using mathematical expressions; and lists of standard spellings and abbreviations. While advancing technology has made some parts of this document out of date, and a few of its rules are superseded by AJP's special style conventions, the Style Manual is still the authoritative reference unless there is a conflict with information appearing on the AJP website, in which case the latter takes precedence.

Like other journals published in the U.S., AJP uses American rather than British spellings: color rather than colour; analyze rather than analyse; and so on.

Authors are encouraged to use SI units, but use of SI units is not mandatory if other units are more appropriate.

Authors are expected to word their manuscripts in a manner consistent with the fact that the physicists, students, and teachers who read AJP include both women and men.


Manuscripts should be double-spaced (approximately 3 lines/inch), using a standard 12-point font such as Times New Roman or Calibri. Margins of at least one-inch width should be left on the top, sides, and bottom. All manuscript pages should be numbered.


Authors should make every effort to be concise. Generally speaking, readership and length are inversely related. Longer manuscripts will be subject to higher expectations with respect to the interest and usefulness of their content during the review process. Additional examples and longer derivations can be placed in the easily-accessible online supplementary material.

AJP papers should normally consist of 4000 to 6000 words, plus equations, tables, and figures if appropriate. As a rough rule, a double-spaced, 12-point manuscript of length 3x pages (including figures and equations) will require x journal pages to print. Manuscripts intended for the Notes and Discussions section should be considerably shorter, typically 1000 to 3000 words.


The main elements of an AJP paper are:

  • Title
  • Authors and affiliations (these are omitted to allow anonymous review until the manuscript is accepted)
  • Abstract (optional for the Notes and Discussions section)
  • Introductory section
  • Main body, divided into sections and subsections as appropriate
  • Concluding section (optional)
  • Acknowledgments
  • Appendices, if necessary
  • Endnotes

Most papers also contain figures and/or tables (with captions) that “float” outside the sequential order of the main text so they can be placed at the top or bottom of a final printed page. In your initially submitted manuscript, place each figure or table near where it is first referenced, without assuming that it will stay in that exact location when the paper is published.

To allow two-way anonymous review, you should omit author name(s) and affiliation(s) from your initially submitted manuscript. (You must still provide this information to the editor, via the manuscript submission form.) If and when your manuscript is conditionally accepted, be sure to include name(s) and affiliation(s) in your editable manuscript file. Changes to citations and acknowledgements may also be necessary; please read here for more details.

You may choose to have your Chinese, Japanese, or Korean names published in your own language alongside the English versions in the author list. For further information, please see AIPP’s guidelines for Chinese, Japanese, or Korean names below.

Please refer to the sample manuscript pdf for the correct typographical and numbering conventions for each of these elements. LaTeX/REVTeX will take care of these conventions automatically. If you use MSWord, following the right conventions is your responsibility.


The abstract should summarize the paper’s contents as concisely as possible. It should make the goals of the paper clear, and state the main results or conclusions directly. The abstract should be written so that any physicist, regardless of area of specialization, can read and understand it.

Abstracts must be self-contained. They may not contain references to endnotes.

Abstracts are optional in the Notes and Discussions section, but are encouraged for Notes longer than 1000 words.


A paper's introductory section must provide the background and context that a typical physicist, regardless of area of specialization, would need in order to understand the paper's purpose and importance. That is, it should motivate the paper, in a way that is both informative and inviting. Unlike the abstract, the introduction need not summarize the entire paper or state its main results. Often, however, the introduction ends with a paragraph that outlines how the rest of the paper is organized; this is especially useful for longer papers.


Mathematical symbols require special typography, such as putting letters in italics and distinguishing minus signs from hyphens. LaTeX math mode takes care of this typography automatically, but MSWord users will have to make a special effort. For all but the simplest expressions, MSWord users should use MathType or the built-in MSWord equation editor. Do not use any other equation editor, and be sure to use only standard fonts.

When an equation is important, large, or complicated, display it on a line by itself, with a number (in parentheses) at the right margin. (In LaTeX, just use the equation environment.) Every equation, whether displayed or not, must be part of a complete sentence, with correct punctuation before and after. See the sample manuscript pdf for examples.

When referring to an equation by number, put the number in parentheses and abbreviate “Eq.” unless it is at the beginning of a sentence:  “Equation (5) follows from substituting Eqs. (2) and (3) into Eq. (4).”


Please refer to our detailed instructions for figure preparation.

Number figures in the order in which they are referred to in the text. Provide an appropriate and concise caption for each figure. When referring to a figure, abbreviate “Fig.” unless it is at the beginning of a sentence: “Figure 5 shows the results of the new analysis in the same format as Fig. 4.”


Number tables using Roman numerals, in the order in which they are referred to in the text. Provide an appropriate and concise caption for each table. In your initial submission, place each table as close as possible to the text that refers to it. If and when you are asked to submit an editable manuscript file, move the tables to the end, after the endnotes, but before the figure captions.


A concluding section is customary but not required. A good conclusion provides additional insights—not mere repetition of what you’ve already said.


Be sure to acknowledge colleagues who contributed in a significant way to your paper, as well as any funding agencies that supported your work. While it is not appropriate to acknowledge the assistance of the editors, it is often appropriate to acknowledge specific help and advice from our generous, conscientious, and anonymous reviewers. Examples of specific help are suggestions for references, pointing out significant errors, and suggesting better ways of doing calculations or experiments.


Use appendices for material that is less interesting than the rest of the paper but still needed for completeness. Examples might include a technical proof, or a detailed description of research protocols. If there is more than one appendix, label them with capital letters A, B, and so on.[MOU3]

Endnotes and Citations

AJP does not use footnotes, which appear at the bottom of a page; instead, AJP uses endnotes. Endnotes may include auxiliary author information, literature citations, and explanatory annotations.

Endnotes must be grouped together at the end of the manuscript, in the same sequence in which they are first referenced in the body of the manuscript.

In accepted manuscripts, auxiliary author information, such as email addresses and preferred pronouns, should be listed at the beginning of the endnote section using superscripted lower-case Latin letters followed by right parentheses (e.g., c) ). Place an identical symbol immediately after the name of the author to whom the information applies. (LaTeX/REVTeX will use different symbols, which are automatically converted to the correct form during production.)

All other endnotes use superscripted numbers (e.g., 3 ). To avoid ambiguity, place superscripts where they won’t be mistaken for mathematical exponents.

Within the body of the manuscript, references to endnotes should appear as superscripts placed after any punctuation:

  • Correct: as shown by Einstein.3
  • Incorrect: as shown by Einstein3.
References can also appear as “online citations,” for example, “. . . as shown by Eq. (5) in Ref. 3, . . . ”

Endnotes may refer to each other (usually using an online citation as above), but may not introduce any new endnotes.

The abstract may not contain references to endnotes.

Authors who use bibtex or other reference software must incorporate the references within the LaTeX file. Consult online sources such as this one for assistance.

Format of Literature References

Endnote references to articles in periodicals should have the following form:

Freeman J. Dyson, “Feynman's proof of the Maxwell equations,”     Am. J. Phys. 58 (3), 209–211 (1990).

Note that unlike many journals, AJP requires that each article reference include the article title and its ending (as well as beginning) page number. Use of the issue number is encouraged but not required unless the periodical is paginated by issue (for example, Physics Today). See the AIP Style Manual for a list of standard periodical abbreviations.

An endnote reference to a book should have the following form (include page number or numbers when appropriate):

David J. Griffiths, Introduction to Electrodynamics, 2nd Ed.     (Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1989), pp. 331–334.

Example of an article in an edited volume:

M. R. Flannery, “Elastic scattering,” in Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics Handbook,     edited by G. W. F. Drake (AIP Press, New York, 1996), p. 520.

In all book and article references, pay special attention to the use and placement of punctuation. Note that article titles are in quotes, while book titles are in italics. List authors’ names in the format “Bradley W. Carroll and Dale A. Ostlie” when there are two authors, or “Harvey Gould, Jan Tobochnik, and Wolfgang Christian” when there are three or more.  If there are four or more authors  you may use the form “William H. Press et al.

References to online material should include a brief description and/or title and the URL enclosed in angle brackets:

For a reference to material that has not been published in print or online, provide as much information as possible and include “(unpublished)” in the citation.  See the AIP Style Manual for examples.

Authors are urged to consult recent articles published in AJP to find additional examples of correctly formatted references.

Video Abstracts

Authors of accepted papers are encouraged to prepare video abstracts. These two-minute videos can serve as attractive introductions to a paper. Interested readers can see examples here. Online readers will see the video abstract on the manuscript page. If you wish to inform print-based readers that there is a video abstract, you can include a reference to it in the text. The citation could read, “Please see the video abstract for this paper at [URL to be inserted by AIPP] or the link from the online version of this article at"

Supplementary Material

If your manuscript includes material that is too lengthy to appear in the published paper, you should submit that material for electronic archiving. Examples of appropriate supplementary material include lengthy derivations, additional applications, large data tables, additional figures, computer programs, multimedia files, curricular materials, and information that will be useful only to a subset of readers. A URL link will be included in the published article to allow users to navigate directly to the associated files.

All supplementary material for publication must be approved by the Journal Editor as part of a manuscript's normal review cycle.

The presence of supplementary material should be noted in a reference (endnote), such as, “See supplementary materialx for the Mathematica code,” where “x” is the number of an endnote that provides the URL of the site where the material is available. For your initial submission, include the supplementary material as an additional document or upload the supplementary material to a public web site of your choice so that reviewers can access it. (Ensure that the website does not reveal the identity of the authors.)

When you later submit your production-ready editable manuscript, replace the temporary information in your citation to say “[URL will be inserted by AIPP].” Put all supplementary materials, and a plain-text “readme.txt” file that describes them, into a single folder (with no subfolders) with a name of the form “AuthorNameSupplementaryMaterial,” and include this folder in the .zip archive with your editable manuscript (and any figure files). There is currently a 100 MB limit on uploads via the AJP submission page, so please consult the editor if you need to submit supplementary materials that are larger than this. All supplementary material is posted online exactly as provided by the author. AIP Publishing makes no changes to the supplemental material files, including text editing or file conversion.

Online Multimedia

For supplemental audio and video files, an alternative to supplementary material is to have the multimedia material linked to a figure in the online version of your article. To do this, create a figure with a caption, numbered in sequence with any other figures, for each multimedia file. The figure content should be a still image from the video, or any small, reasonable placeholder image for audio. As with supplementary material, upload the multimedia file to a public Web site of your choice, for the benefit of reviewers. Write the figure caption to say “enhanced online,” with a link to your temporary URL, in your submitted .pdf manuscript. When you later submit your production-ready editable manuscript, replace the temporary link with “[URL will be inserted by AIP]” and include the multimedia file in your .zip package. Please consult the AIP guidelines for details on acceptable file formats and sizes.