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Preparing Mathematics for Journal Articles


ASCE journals often contain mathematical equations. The preparation of equations in your manuscript requires particular care as incorrect or incomplete equations impair the usability of your paper and call your work into question. Although your draft manuscript will undergo a technical review and although the reviewers often spot errors in equations, bear in mind that it is not the job of the reviewers to ensure the accuracy of your math or to work out all mathematical equations contained in your manuscript. The same is true at the page-proof stage; a professional proofreader will be checking your paper, but you are responsible for ensuring that your mathematical equations are accurate, contain the correct symbols, and are properly arranged.

Style for Mathematics and Equations

  • If you introduce certain basic equations or formulas and then present variations, be sure to present the equation or formula consistently. For example, do not use 0.75 pg sometimes and ¾ pg others, even though both forms may be correct.
  • Type all variables in italics.
  • Type all abbreviations and acronyms used as variables in roman.
  • Type Greek characters in roman.
  • Type all functions in roman.
  • Type matrices, vectors, and tensors in bold type or in brackets, but use one consistently: M or [M].
  • Type dimensionless variables in roman type and define them on first use. For example: Froude (F), Reynolds (R), Mach (M), Weber (W), Strouhal (S), Peclet (P), Richardson (Ri), Prandl (Pr), and Schmidt (Sc).
  • Do not use hyphens (-) to represent minus signs (–) or exes (x) to represent multiplication signs (×).
  • Check for consistency in commonly confused pairs of letters or symbols: Greek nu versus Greek upsilon; numeral one (1) versus lowercase letter el (l); and numeral zero (0) versus uppercase letter oh (O), especially in superscripts and subscripts.
  • Insert a zero before naked decimals: 0.25 (not .25) and a –0.5 (not a –.5).
  • Use slash equations, not built-up equations, in text and tables; for example,
    (a + b)/(cd).
  • Equations that are built-up or that the reader will refer to later should be set on a separate line from the main text and numbered.
  • Equations must be consecutively numbered, e.g., Eqs. (1), (2), (3a), (3b), (4), and so on.
  • Numbered equations are referred to subsequently in a consistent way, such as Equation (4) or Eq. (4).

Preparation of Mathematics and Equations

  • Wherever possible, prepare mathematical characters and equations using MathType (available from Design Science, Inc.) or Word’s Equation Editor (available in Microsoft Office 2003 and earlier).  These editors should be used for all mathematical characters throughout the text, and must be used for display (built-up) equations.  Always be sure to set your symbols using the character templates in each program.
  • If your manuscript only contains a minimal amount of math, you may use basic word-processing features, such as bold, italics, superscript, and subscript characters. Select Greek and other mathematical characters from the Symbol font. Do not use Wingdings, Webdings, or any of the various WordPerfect math and symbol fonts, because it is unlikely the symbols will appear correctly to the copyeditor and typesetter.
  • Other “equation friendly” programs, such as LaTeX, are also supported by ASCE's journals program.
  • Note for Word 2007/2010 users: ASCE journals do not accept documents created in docx format.  Further, we cannot accept documents where the math has been created using Word’s Equation Builder (this is not the same program as the Equation Editor included with Word 2003 and earlier).  If you must use one of these versions of Word, you should create your math using either MathType or basic word-processing features, and always save the document type as doc.