Christina R. McDonald, Ph.D.
Institute Director of Writing

Ph: (540) 464-7240
Fax:  (540) 464-7779

English, Rhetoric, and Humanistic Studies
Virginia Military Institute
Lexington, VA 24450 

Contact Institute Writing

Guidelines for Manuscript Submission Sciences Division

All papers from the Sciences Division must be formatted in the American Institute of Physics (AIP) style.  This format is available on RefWorks.  The paper must be submitted in Miscrosoft Word.

The body of the manuscript should include the following components in the following order:

  • Title, author, class, major, and mentor's name.
  • Abstract: Fewer than 300 words. Do not include references in the summary.
  • Manuscript Text:
    • The manuscript should be written for a general audience; define terms specific to your field of study wherever appropriate.
    • Must be less than 6000 words total (about 25 double spaced pages), excluding tables, figure legends, and references.
    • Use 12 point Times New Roman font for all standard text. Special characters or symbols must be included as font characters, not inserted as graphics.
    • Use double line spacing and left-justification throughout the manuscript. Text in tables may be single-spaced.
    • Page margins should be 1” on all sides on all pages, including tables and figures.
    • Do not include headers, footers, or pagination.
    • Important equations should be numbered using the format “(X)” where X is the equation number.  Equations should be inserted using Word’s built in equation editor.  They should be centered on their own line with the equation number right justified.
    • Use a single common name for organisms throughout the manuscript, and include scientific (Latin) names at first mention.
    • Use capitalized boldface font for 1st level section headings and boldface font for 2nd level sub-heading and separators.  The acknowledgments and references sections are considered 1st level headings.
    • Tables: Each table should be identified by a caption that begins with its number (Table 1.) and describes its contents succinctly.  The caption text should appear above the table and aligned with the left edge of the table.  Table caption text should be 10 point Times New Roman.
    • Figures:  Figures should be identified by a caption that begins with its number (Figure 1.) and describes the figure succinctly.  The figure caption text should be 10 point Times New Roman and centered below the figure.  A separate image file for each figure must be included when the paper is submitted.
  • Acknowledgments: Acknowledge any grants (VMI, extramural, etc.) that provided funding for the project.  Academic scholarships to the cadet author (ROTC, etc.) should likewise be acknowledged.  Keep this section brief, and limit mention to those individuals who contributed directly to the completion of the research or preparation of the manuscript.
  • References: This section contains all the references cited in the text of the paper.  Choose references carefully; they are intended to support the credibility of your hypothesis, assumptions, conclusions, etc. In the sciences, citations should come predominantly from primary or secondary literature sources. Minimize references to reports or ‘gray’ literature.  References should be formatted according to the AIP style.
  • A reference is denoted in the text by a superscripted number. Multiple reference at a single point should use the form X-Y if the references are sequential or X,Y,Z if they are not sequential.  As an example, “Absorption spectroscopy is an important tool in trace gas detection1-3.”
  • Websites should be cited as references sparingly.
  • An example reference section is shown below.


1E. F. Redish, J. M. Saul, and R. N. Steinberg, “Student expectations in introductory physics,” Am. J. Phys. 66, 212-224 (1998).

2B. Alberts, “The cell as a collections of protein machines: Preparing the next generation of molecular biologists,” Cell 92, 291-294 (1998).

3”Starting student space hardware programs,” <>

4B. Simon, Orthogonal Polynomials on the Unit Circle: Classical theory (AMS Colloquium Publications, Providence, RI, 2005).

5P. Adkins, J. de Paula, Physical Chemistry, 7th ed. (W. H. Freeman, San Francisco, 2001).

6E. Mazur, Peer Instruction: A User’s Manual (Prentice Hall, New York, 1997).

7D. Hammer, A. Elby, R. E. Scherr, and E. F. Redish, “Resources, Framing and Transfer,” in Transfer of Learning from a Modern Multidisciplinary Perspective, edited by Jose Mestre (information Age Publishing, Charlotte, NC, 2004), Chap. 3.

8P. Gresser, “A Study of Social Interaction And Teamwork In Reformed Physics Laboratories,” PhD dissertation, University of Maryland, College Park, MD (2006), (