The preparation of a manuscript is of course a mandatory requirement if you are a research scholar. Understanding the formatting specifications that journals give and understanding them in detail can be a daunting task. Still, formatting is a very important task as a properly formatted manuscript tends to have a faster acceptance for publication. Sometimes, even the best of content does not go forward for review because it gets rejected at the formative stage itself because of formatting put offs.
When you try to follow the instructions that are given to the authors by the journals and prepare your manuscript exactly by their requirement, it may be still different from a printed paper in their journal. Do not get worried. A lot of journals have different formatting requirements for the review process and completely different for the published articles. Usually for the review process they want more spacing, bigger font so that editing process becomes easier. It may be changed after the review for the purpose of publication. You must follow the guidelines that are specifically given in the author instructions.
Many a times, the guidelines for authors do not give the reference guidelines for all possible sources such a books, government reports, working paper, conference presentation etc. authors get confused here and do not know how to incorporate those references. The best thing to do is to find a paper published in that journal before and find similar references to get idea. If that’s not possible try to format the reference in a way that it is as much as possible similar to the example that has been given. Incorporate the maximum information you can give in a reference.
If the journal guidelines give you specifications regarding font, line spacing margins etc. then you must follow them impeccably. However, if it is not given to you then always remember the rule that two things are most important simplicity as well as consistency. Make sure that the font is such that it is easy to read and the layout is similar throughout the document. The most widely accepted formatting standards in most of the journals that the writer can incorporate if not provided are:
- Times New Roman size 12 font,
- double line spacing,
- 1-inch margins,
- Half-inch indentations at the beginning of each paragraph (using the tab key, not the space bar)
Hope this information puts a few of your concerns to rest.