Technical Style Glossary
Apostrophes: used to show possession, not to show plural form of abbreviations.
Dates: 1992-95, June 1995, 15 June 1995.
Degrees: Ph.D., M.A., M.S., M.Sc.
Enumeration: Within text, use (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), etc., not 1), 2), 3), etc.
Hyphens: Used with compound adjective forms,
including those with numbers:
5- to 10-cm deep
9- x 16-cm plastic pots
(use lowercase letters after hyphens).
Other hyphenated words: degree-day, light-year
Latin phrases not italicized: in vivo, in vitro, sensu, per se, in situ.
Light intensity units: µmol•s-1 •m-2 or µE•s-1 •m-2
Magnification: x200 (note spacing and that x precedes magnification value. Use the multiplication symbol or a sans serif (e.g., Helvetica letter x).
Miscellaneous: “As described previously” implies that the said information was described in a previous paper and must be accompanied by a literature citation.
“ Which” and “that” are often used incorrectly. That should be used as the relative pronoun introducing a restrictive clause. Which should be used to introduce a nonrestrictive clause, usually preceded by a comma (e.g., this is the nematode that I found yesterday. This nematode, which I found yesterday, has not been identified.)
“ Compared to” is used to show similarity (e.g., “You can compare my copy to the original”). “Compared with” is used to show difference and similarity (e.g., “His work cannot compare with mine.”)
“ Was” and “were” - a total was, data were, either was.
petri dish (lower case “p”)
Molecular weight and daltons: The molecular weight of protein A is 74,000 (not 74,000 Da) or the molecular mass of protein A is 74,000 Da. The term “molecular weight” is considered a synonym for “relative molecular mass,” which is unitless. In some instances, the term amu (atomic mass unit) may be appropriate.
Nematicides: Use generic names when available; otherwise use capitalized trade names followed by their ingredient. Do not use trademark symbols. Nematicide doses should be reported as amount of active or technical material applied per unit area (for field use) or concentration for in vitro studies. The chemical formulation should be given and method of application clearly stated.
Nested parentheses: Use ([ ]), except for taxonomic authorities, use ( ( ) ).
Numbers: Spell out numbers lower than 10 except when used with units of measure; use numerals for 10 and above (e.g., two plants, 10 plants, 4 ha, 10 ha, twofold, 10-fold). An exception to this rule is a number at the beginning of a sentence, which is always spelled out. If numbers are spelled out, the unit of measure should also be spelled out (“Fifteen percent” at beginning of sentences).
Use % with numbers, “percentage” without numbers, for example: 13%, but use the word “percentage” when there is no number, e.g., a smaller percentage; 32%, 43%, and 56%. Use “between 3% and 5%,” “from 3% to 5%.” Note: A range of percentage is expressed with the symbol [%] following each value to eliminate any ambiguity as to whether the first number represents simply a number or a percentage; also note closed-up space between the number and % symbol.
Fifteen percent of the samples were contaminated (note the plural verb “were”; the subject of the sentence is not singular “percent” but the implied “fifteen samples of 100 samples”). But, “Fifteen percent was contaminated.”
Use commas in numbers of four digits or more (1,000 and 1,000,000).
Do not use the symbol # as an abbreviation for number; abbreviate “no.” in tables or figures, or in rare instances in text.
The words “number,” “total,” as well as actual numerical quantities and fractions take either singular or plural verbs according to their meaning. For example, “The number of complaints has been increasing,” “A number of changes have been made.”
When discussing quantities in technical writing, use “more than” rather than “over.” For example, “A total of more than 16 species was isolated...”
When numbers are less than one, a zero should precede the decimal marker, e.g., 0.3, not .3. When using ±, do not enclose in parentheses, e.g., 34.2 ± 0.3, not 34.2(± 0.3).
Operator signs and spacing: = word, = 2, < 12, + 1 SE, ± 400.
Solidus (slash) – The main use of the solidus “/” is as a symbol for the mathematical operation of division. Do not use as a substitute for the comma, hyphen, or full expression. Use “per” without numbers-numerals (e.g., “a few eggs per gram”) and “/” with numerals (e.g., 0.18 kg/ha).
Proprietary materials and apparatuses: Follow the proprietary name with the manufacturer’s name and address in parentheses (city and state or city and country outside the United States), e.g., QIAquick (Qiagen Inc., Valencia, CA) PCR Purification kit.
Quotation marks: Commas or periods go inside quotation marks, except for the names of cultivars, in which case any comma or period would always be outside single quotations, e.g., Lycospersicon esculentum ‘Rutgers’.
Ranges:Use the connecting word “to” rather then a hyphen, e.g., 21°C to 28°C. If the range is given in parenthesis or in a table, use a short dash.
Restriction endonucleases: Eco RI, Bam I, Hind III, Sau 3A (note spacing and lack of italicization).
Single words: cheesecloth, germplasm, preemergence, postemergence, preincubated, pretreated, nonspecific, nonparasitic. Use “nontreated,” “noninoculated,” and “noninfected” (note the prefix non- is not hyphenated when combined with most words).
Soil identification and types: All soils should be identified according to the U.S. soil taxonomic system the first time each soil is mentioned. Give the series name in addition to the family name. See: National Soil Taxonomy Handbook (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1982-1986) and in Keys to Soil Taxonomy (Soil Management Support Services, 1985).
(x% sand, y% silt, z% clay; n% organic matter; pH a.b). Note semicolons. x + y + z must equal 100.
Spelling: Preferred spellings are according to “Merriam-Webster Dictionary.” Use Americanized English and spelling except for titles in literature citations where originally published spelling should be followed.
Statistics: Do not cite a reference for commonly used experimental designs, such as completely randomized, randomized block, and split-plot designs, or simple procedures such as t tests. For little-used statistical methods, designs, or analyses, cite an appropriate and accessible reference. If computer software programs are used, they should be treated as proprietary material or apparatus. Give the manufacture or developer name with location within the text body (in parentheses). This includes SAS software. Do not list SAS software in the Literature Cited section.
The achieved significance level for statistical tests (e.g., P ≤ 0.05, P ≤ 0.001; or P > 0.05, P > 1.10) should be given in parentheses after the comparison (generally end of clause or end of sentence): (P ≤ 0.05) (P > 0.05) (note spacing).
The asterisk symbols *, **, and *** are used to show significance at P ≤ 0.05, 0.01 and 0.001 probability levels, respectively.
Student’st-test, U-test, k-ratio, F-test.
Some abbreviations commonly used in statistics and denotation of those to be typeset in italics:
|Coefficient of multiple determination|
|Coefficient of simple determination|
|Coefficient of variation|
|Degrees of freedom|
|Least significant difference|
|Multiple correlation coefficient|
|Probability of type I error|
|Probability of type II error|
|Standard error of mean|
|Standard deviation of sample|