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 While advancing technology has made some parts of this document out of date, and a few of its rules are superseded by AJP's special style conventions, the Style Manual is still the authoritative reference unless there is a conflict with information appearing on the AJP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 genders other than male; the use of "they" as a singular pronoun is acceptable.


Manuscripts can be single- or double-spaced and single- or double-column. Reviewers appreciate text that is formatted for easy reading. All manuscript pages should be numbered. You will be asked to upload a single pdf file containing all text, endnotes, figures, and tables, preferably with the figures and tables incorporated into the text rather than at the end. Ensure that your manuscript meets the requirements for anonymous review.


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, further implications, and longer derivations can be placed in the easily-accessible online supplementary material.

AJP papers should normally be 4000 to 6000 words, plus equations, tables, and figures if appropriate. As a rough rule, a double-spaced, 12-point manuscript of length x pages (including figures and equations) will require x/3 journal pages to print, and we aim for papers to be 6 pages or shorter.  Longer papers can be published, but their additional length should be justified by their high interest to readers.  Note that dividing a paper into two linked papers does not solve the problem of a too-long paper, since the length restrictions are aimed at limiting the total number of pages that are dedicated to a particular topic, in order to allow more breadth of coverage in the journal.

Manuscripts intended for the Notes and Discussions section should be considerably shorter, typically 1000 to 3000 words, and Letters should normally be 800 words or shorter.


The main elements of an AJP paper are:

  • Title
  • Authors and affiliations (these are omitted to allow anonymous review until the manuscript is conditionally accepted)
  • Abstract (optional for the Notes and Discussions section)
  • Introductory section
  • Main body, divided into sections and subsections as appropriate
  • Concluding section (optional – don't simply write a summary)
  • Acknowledgments (optional, and omitted until acceptance to allow anonymous review)
  • Author declarations section (conflict of interest, ethics approval, data availability statement)
  • Appendices (optional)
  • Endnotes

To allow two-way anonymous review, you should omit author name(s), affiliation(s), and acknowledgements from your initially submitted manuscript. (You will 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 may also be necessary, but the submitted paper should allow reviewers to access all necessary information; 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.


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.


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. All displayed equations should be numbered.

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)."

While the copy editors will correct issues of style, such as putting letters in italics and distinguishing minus signs from hyphens, reviewers will appreciate more professional formatting. 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.


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. Place each table as close as possible to the text that refers to it.


A concluding section is customary but not required.  A good conclusion provides additional insights; it is not a summary.  Summaries are not appropriate in AJP.


Acknowledgments should be omitted until a paper is conditionally accepted to allow anonymous review. When submitting the accepted paper, 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.

Author Declarations Section

All articles (but not editorials, book reviews, notes, letters, comments, and responses) should contain a Conflict of Interest statement and a Data Availability statement.  Any paper that includes experiments using animals or humans needs to contain an ethics approval statement.  More information on these statements can be found here.


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.

Endnotes and Citations

AJP papers should not include a comprehensive listing of all the papers that have been published on a topic, or even the most important ones. Instead, the references should be a carefully curated list of resources that will be most useful to readers. Citations should (1) recognize when an idea was first developed in another source—in that case, give only the 1st occurrence; (2) give readers a place to find essential background that can’t be provided in this paper; (3) provide interested readers with places to find specific additional information. The paper should make it clear to readers exactly why each reference is cited and what readers will find there. For long references, such as textbooks, direct readers to the most useful sections.

A note for authors of Physics Education Research papers: This citation policy conflicts with normal practice in PER, where authors are careful to cite all related work. AJP's primary goal is to serve the reader, not the researcher, so citations should be kept to a minimum even for these papers.

AJP uses endnotes for auxiliary author information, literature citations, and explanatory annotations.  Alternately, brief explanatory annotations can be included as footnotes.  These can be indicated using standard symbols such as *, †, ‡, §, ¶, #.

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.

Citing websites should be done with care. AJP is an archival journal, and readers in 50 years (or 1 year!) may be disappointed to find that the website no longer exists.  For that reason, it is normally preferable to cite journals or textbooks that will be accessible indefinitely.  On the other hand, websites are sometimes the best source of information (such as product descriptions), and they will be accessible to readers who have limited library support.  Authors are encouraged to consult with the editor about the best sources to cite.

To avoid ambiguity, place superscripts where they won’t be mistaken for mathematical exponents. Within the body of the manuscript, citations to endnotes should appear as superscripts placed after any punctuation. Copy editors will normally correct the placement of citations with respect to punctuation, but they will not normally move them to a different position in the sentence; it is the author’s responsibility to place them where they minimize interruption (normally at the ends of sentences).

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 citations 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.

Literature References

Copy editors will correct the format of references in accepted papers. However, reviewers will appreciate having them formatted in the AJP style described below.

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.

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 more information and a complete list of video abstracts.. 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"

Supplemental Material

Supplemental material allows authors to easily share additional material that is too long to fit in the published paper or may be interesting only to a subset of readers. Examples of appropriate supplemental material include lengthy derivations, additional applications, large data tables, additional figures, computer programs, multimedia files, and curricular materials. A url link will be included in the reference section of the published article to allow users to navigate directly to the associated files.

Supplemental material can be uploaded, along with the manuscript file, as part of the submission or re-submission process. When the material is made available through the website as part of the published paper, the filenames will be unchanged from the uploaded files, so the choosing descriptive filenames before uploading is encouraged. If the file format is not supported by PXP, you can create a zip file that contains it.

The presence of supplemental material should be noted in a citation in the text, such as, "See supplemental material for the Mathematica code,x" where "x" is the number of an endnote. If the supplemental material is included during the review process, then the endnote should say, “xSee supplemental material at the reviewer website.” Once the manuscript is conditionally accepted, then the endnote should be changed to, “xThe Mathematica code is available at [url to be inserted by AIPP],” or, if there are multiple files, then, for example, “xSupplemental material is available at [url to be inserted by AIPP].”

There is currently a 100 MB limit on uploads via the AJP submission page, so please consult the editor if you need to submit supplemental materials that are larger than this. All supplemental 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. All supplemental material for publication must be approved by the Journal Editor as part of a manuscript's normal review process. The author retains full rights to the supplemental material.

Online Multimedia

For audio and video files, an alternative to supplemental 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. Write the figure caption to say “enhanced online,” with the statement “[url will be inserted by AIPP].” Include the multimedia file in your file uploads, choosing the file category “Integral Multimedia (enhanced audio/visual version of figure).” Additional information can be found on the AIPP website.

The above instructions apply to papers that have completed peer review. To allow reviewers to see audio or visual files, these files should initially be uploaded as supplemental material. They can be changed to online multimedia following successful peer review.