KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Monday, March 25, 2024

One Medical Editor's Method for Editing Journal Manuscripts

I love style sheets. They're wonderful for ensuring consistency when you're editing a big manuscript, and then again when a professional proofreader is working on page proofs of the typeset manuscript.

But the majority of the manuscripts I edit these days are written by authors who will submit them to medical journals in hopes that the journal will publish them. For these manuscripts, I actually don't create style sheets. That’s because the manuscripts I edit wind up being submitted to any one of 65-plus different journals, and I don’t want to have that many style sheets to keep updated.😉 I use this method instead:

All the medical journals whose authors I edit for follow the guidance of the AMA Manual of Style. When I’m editing, I keep the online version of the manual open in my browser so that I can look up all sorts of style points.

In another window of my browser, I keep open the page of the target journal’s website that lists for authors what particular style points and content points they want authors to follow. Journals are picky about how well authors do or do not adhere to those points, so I want to be able to alert my authors that they need to add something or other to make the journal happy. On rare occasions, I’ve come across journals’ style guides!

Also, I make sure to download a PDF of recent article published in the particular journal that the authors are wanting to submit their manuscript to. I make sure the article is on a topic similar to the one of the manuscript on my screen. For each manuscript, I skim the downloaded PDF to see how the journal handles the following things and more, because although the journals generally follow AMA style, sometimes they make interpret it slightly differently:

  • Various heading levels in the article
  • New-to-me medical terms in the author’s area of specialization
  • Reference-citation style
  • Reference-list style
  • Table style
  • Use of abbreviations
  • Figure-legend style
  • Figure-citation style
  • Style for a short list of keywords about the article’s topic
  • How acknowledgments are handled
  • How authors’ names and location information are handled
  • What subsections the journal divides abstracts into
  • What headings the journal generally uses in the text for the type of article I'm editing (research article, clinical study, review or meta-analysis, etc.)

If you're a medical editor as I am, I'd enjoy hearing how you maintain style consistency in journal articles.

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