Saturday, July 6, 2013

Journal formatting tip: Nomenclature

Most of the time, scientific journals provide relatively clear instructions for formatting passages. While inconsistencies may exist between reference formatting guidelines and samples provided in their print articles, you can usually format the text with your eyes closed.

That is, until you encounter the British Journal of Haematology. Then, you are told "the main categories of headings are side capitals, side italics and shoulder italics".

Incredibly, the search engines (yes, all of them) yielded nothing but an unanswered forum query. 

To be fair, the guidelines suggest that authors refer to recent issues of the journal, but the indirectness makes it appear as if they're trying to get more people to actually read their articles.

That probably isn't true, but I think it can be improved. Typically, headings appear on a separate line from the main text. Thus:

This is a typical main heading
Text.

This is a typical subheading
Text.

Here is a section heading
Text.

This is a subsection heading
Text.

Sometimes, authors are instructed to place section headings in line with the text. THIS is what "shoulder italics/capitals" means! To wit:

This is a side capital heading*
Text.

This is a side italics heading
Text.

This is a shoulder italics heading. The text starts here.

Therefore, "side" and "shoulder" respectively refer to the "side" of the page and "shoulder" of the paragraph, i.e., in line with the text. Now it's easy, no?

* This might or might not be all caps/upper case, sentence/title case, or bolded; it depends on the journal.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thankfully, the search engines now lead us to this page! Thank you thank you for clarifying the BJH nomenclature.

Angela Gripesalot said...

You're welcome! Glad that helped. Hope the BJH has come up with clearer instructions since :D

Anonymous said...

I also thank you for clarifying. So far BJH hasn't gotten the message though.

Anonymous said...

I was almost at wits end. Thank you so much

Angela Gripesalot said...

You're welcome, I'm happy the post helped! I think I should probably email them next.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your explanation! Nope, they still haven't updated their absurd instructions. I've been science editing for over a decade, and this is the first time I've come across the terms "side" and "shoulder" in this context. Buttheads . . .

Angela Gripesalot said...

Yo, a fellow editor! *high fives you*