JMIR Publications employs professional external copyeditors (What are the steps during copyediting? and What are the authors' responsibilities during copyediting?) to bring articles into editorial style, so authors do not have to worry too much about style upon initial submission, although it does shorten the production process after acceptance if the article is roughly in AMA Style, and it helps us to find reviewers if the references are properly formatted and have PMIDs.
Further author resources can be found in our reporting guidelines section.
1. Editing for Style and Language
- Avoid passive voice. It should always be clear who the actors are.
- First person plural ("we sampled...") is ok as long as it is not overused (ie, do not start every second sentence in the Methods with "we"—in this case switching to passive voice may be more desirable).
- First person singular should be avoided, especially in opinion pieces or the Discussion (eg, "I think..."). Alternatively, "It is the opinion of this author..." may be used.
- Generally, Methods are written in past tense ("this study was conducted...").
- Exception: In JMIR Research Protocols, papers sometimes deal with ongoing or future studies (if it is unclear, query the author). In these cases, use the future tense ("participants will be enrolled...") or present tense ("the ongoing study is currently recruiting...").
- The Objective section of the abstract can be written in either the present or past tense.
- The present tense is preferred if the study is the subject of the sentence.
Example: "This paper explores/describes/presents..."
- The past tense is more appropriate when reporting on research that has already been conducted. However, the present tense is also acceptable in the cases below.
Example: "Our research aims were to..." or "We aimed to determine..." or "The objective of this paper was to..."
- The present tense is preferred if the study is the subject of the sentence.
1.1 Paper vs Article
- Use "paper" (or study) rather than "article" to refer to the paper.
- Examples: "In this paper, we will demonstrate…" or "In this study, we will demonstrate…"
1.2 "Present/current study" vs "This study"
- Some authors use "in the present study [we describe, we found, etc]" or "in the current paper" to refer to the study that they are reporting. Please change this to read "this paper" or "this study."
1.3. SMS vs Text Messaging
Although both are correct, note preferences for specific usages:
- In titles and headings, "text messaging" or "texting" is better.
- In the Abstract, both should be used, for example, "SMS text messaging interventions."
- In the body of the manuscript, the preference is to use "texting" or "SMS text messaging".
1.4. Showing "and" or "or"
- Do not use ambiguous terms like “and/or” or “(mis)matched.”
- Be explicit to avoid confusion; we follow AMA guidelines, which state that "If there is any likelihood of ambiguity, the sentence should be reworded."
- This does not mean the slash should be removed in every circumstance. For example, if the slash is part of an intervention name (eg, the Alpha/Beta Intervention), copyeditors should leave it as is.
- Note: In cases where not using "and/or" will result in a sentence being unnecessarily wordy, the copyeditor may use their discretion to retain the phrase "and/or" (eg, ...prevalence of MSSA and/or MRSA colonization in the population…)
Correct: matched and mismatched
Correct: matched or mismatched
- We follow the AMA Style Guide and therefore always use American spelling.
2. Abbreviations, Acronyms, and Initialisms
The guidelines below pertain to abbreviations, acronyms, and initialisms (hereafter "abbreviations" for brevity).
2.1. General Guidelines on Abbreviations Usage
All abbreviations (with exceptions listed here) used 3 or more times must be expanded (with the abbreviation in parentheses) at first mention within each stand-alone section of a paper. For abbreviations used <3 times, journal preference is to use the expanded form (unless readability is hampered). Exceptions apply when a term is better known by its abbreviated version (see section 2.2).
- Stand-alone sections include the abstract, main text, end sections (acknowledgments, authors' contributions, conflicts of interest, data availability statement), figures, tables, textboxes, and appendices.
- Example: An abbreviation introduced in the abstract must be reintroduced in the main text using the expanded form (abbreviation) format.
Only abbreviations used in the abstract or main text (excluding other stand-alone sections), regardless of the number of times used, should be compiled in an alphabetized list in an Abbreviations section at the end of the paper (H3 heading style). Preferred order: punctuation, symbols, numerals, plain text (A-Z), and lowercase Greek letters. See example below:
.NET: dot NET
/kg: per kilogram
$delta: difference in USD values
AMA: American Medical Association
STD: sexually transmitted disease
αSMA: α-smooth muscle actin
ω-HA: ω-bromohexanoic acid
2.2. Exceptions: well-known abbreviations
- Abbreviations for established terms or entities with lengthy names that are or will be better known by their abbreviation are allowed and must be kept to aid in information retrieval and indexing, regardless of how many times they occur in a paper. They should be expanded at first mention in each stand-alone section. For example:
- Instruments or scales (eg, “Diabetes Self-Management and Technology Questionnaire (DSMT-Q)”)
- Trial names
- Organization names (eg, ACOG, WHO, VA)
- Software or technology-related terms (eg, REDCap, BERT, WYSIWYG)
- Reporting standards (eg, CONSORT)
- The guideline for terms that are currently better known by their abbreviated version (eg, PRISMA) is to list the acronym first and then expand it (this is relatively rare). The policy for entities that will be better known by their abbreviation (especially for new instruments and scales) is to mention the expanded version first followed by the abbreviated version. However, if readability is affected, the copyeditor can relax this guideline, listing the abbreviation first and then expanding it.
- Note: Some instrument names may resemble abbreviations but are not. For example, “EQ-5D” and its versions (ie, EQ-5D-3L, EQ-5D-5L, and EQ-5D-Y) should not be treated like acronyms. More information can be found here.
- Tip: When in doubt, doing a Google or PubMed search, looking for a Wikipedia article using the abbreviation, or consulting the author may help to determine how well known it is.
2.3. Acceptable abbreviations (use without expansion)
Some abbreviations can be used without expansion anywhere in the paper; these do not need to be listed in the Abbreviation end section.
We follow AMA guidelines (eg, 19.6 Statistical Symbols and Abbreviations) in determining which abbreviations may be used without expansion. Additionally, JMIR has its own list of abbreviations that can be used without expansion, since they will be familiar to the vast majority of readers or are more recognizable as an abbreviation.
The complete list can be found here: Which abbreviations don't need to be expanded?
2.4. Using abbreviations in specific sections of the article
- Abbreviations are best avoided in the article title.
- Exceptions: Acceptable abbreviations by JMIR and AMA (see Which abbreviations don't need to be expanded?); names of technology/apps, collaborations/study groups, or trials; or terms that are better known by their abbreviations (which is important for information retrieval and discoverability).
- Examples: USMLE, which stands for United States Medical Licensing Examination, is a well-known exam. Hence, USMLE can remain in the title unexpanded. In particular, psychological or medical assessment instrument names should be expanded but also mention the abbreviation in parentheses to aid information retrieval.
- Well-known abbreviations should be added to the Keywords section to aid in information retrieval and indexing.
- If abbreviations are listed as keywords, include their expanded versions as well.
- Abbreviations can be used in subheadings if they have been defined previously in the text or if they feature on this list: Which abbreviations don't need to be expanded?
- Avoid the use of a single abbreviation as a heading; in such cases, add a qualifier or descriptor for clarity (eg, MRI technique or PCR analysis instead of just MRI or PCR).
Tables, figures, textboxes, and multimedia appendices
- Abbreviations in tables and figures are often necessary due to space restrictions.
- Tables: If undefined in the table or caption, provide the expanded form of each abbreviation in a footnote, listed in the order of appearance.
- Figures: If undefined in the figure, provide the expanded form in the caption, listed in alphabetical order.
- Textboxes: Expand at the first mention within the textbox or its caption.
- Multimedia appendices: Include the expansion at the first mention of any abbreviation that occurs in the caption. Abbreviations that occur within an appendix are not the responsibility of the copyeditor.
- Abbreviations that appear exclusively in tables, figures, or textboxes do NOT need to be added to the Abbreviations end section.
- Abbreviations in the end sections (eg, conflicts of interest, acknowledgments, authors' contributions, and data availability) should be expanded as in the rest of the text. The abbreviation may be included parenthetically if the organization is better known as such. These do NOT need to be added to the Abbreviations end section.
- Abbreviations that occur in block quotes or quoted text do not require expansion even if they do not occur anywhere else in the paper. Authors may choose to expand these in square brackets, if they so prefer.
2.5. When to avoid using abbreviations
- Abbreviations of common words or phrases such as “web-based education (WBE)” vs “paper-based education (PBE)” introduced or invented by the author should be expanded for clarity as these abbreviations tend to obscure meaning; see section 2.2 for exceptions.
- Although people-first language is our strong preference, do not refer to people with disease X as PwX's. We strive for clarity and “people with disabilities” is more clear than “PwD” (as an aside, PwD can mean people with disabilities, people with dementia, people with diabetes, people with dogs, etc)
- It is also counter-productive to the person or people-first language recommended by many patient organizations
- It is inappropriate to refer to people with a health condition using an abbreviation. We have enough space to expand terms and ask to use abbreviations in particular for people only in exceptional circumstances (eg, tables with space constraints).
Avoid person-centered abbreviations
- Example: “African American women” should not be abbreviated as “AAW.”
One-word terms should not be abbreviated.
- Examples: "Patient" should not be abbreviated as "Pt" and "equation" should not abbreviated as "eqn."
- Exceptions: Lengthy words that have well-known abbreviations can be retained, such as ECG (for "electrocardiogram" or "electrocardiography") or TB (for "tuberculosis"), as this may aid indexing.
2.6. Other guidelines
- Expand AI (ie, artificial intelligence) and mHealth (ie, mobile health) at first mention and add them to the Abbreviations section; both mHealth and AI can be used without expansion only in the article title. Note: eHealth doesn't need to be expanded.
- Spell out country names (eg, United States, United Kingdom) when they are used as a noun, but abbreviate them when they are used as an adjective.
- Example: There are 78 million dogs in the United States. All US dogs must be vaccinated against rabies.
- When there has been a “stretch” to create a study name or the name of a writing group that makes sense, is easy to say, and somehow relates to the name of the group, but where the first letters of the major words do not match the acronym, do not use unusual capitalization to indicate how the study name was derived.
- Example: If a study name is an acronym made up of letters that do not begin the words of the longer phrase (eg, “VItal siGns monItoring with continuous puLse oximetry And wireless cliNiCian notification aftEr surgery” to create “VIGILANCE”), the acronym can be listed first with the phrase following in parentheses instead of the typical order of phrase (acronym). However, please note that the spelled-out form should still be in title case: "VIGILANCE (Vital Signs Monitoring With Continuous Pulse Oximetry and Wireless Clinician Notification After Surgery)...”
- Do not expand proper nouns (eg, product names) that resemble acronyms but are not (eg, iOS) or instances where the abbreviated version is the official presentation (eg, NHS England).
- "JMIR" does not always stand for "Journal of Medical Internet Research" - in most cases, it actually stands for the publisher/journal brand. Do not expand "JMIR" when it is used for the publisher ("JMIR Publications") or a specific journal (eg, "JMIR Mental Health"). See also What does "JMIR" in the title of your journals stand for?
2.7. Latin Abbreviations
- DO NOT use italics or periods.
- The abbreviations "ie," and "eg," should only be used within parentheses and followed by a comma.
- Use "for example," "that is," and "versus" in running text.
- Examples: (ie, ), (eg, ), et al, etc, ( vs )
2.8. Abbreviations of Names or Titles
- Do not include periods with honorifics (courtesy titles), scientific terms, and abbreviations.
- "St." is okay when it is part of a person’s name (eg, Martin St. Croix)
- Do not use a period in a city name that contains “St” (eg, St Louis, Missouri). When "St." is used in an organization/institute’s name, a period can be used if it is included in the official name (eg, St. Jude Hospital)
- If "No. of Participants" appears in the column header of a table, change to "Participants, n (%)"
- In the Acknowledgments section, change "Grant No." (for "number") to "grant XXXXX" per the AMA style.
3. Capitalization in Titles and Headings
- Use headline style caps (title case) for all titles and headings.
In title case, we do not capitalize articles (a, an, the), prepositions of ≤3 letters (of, as, in), coordinating conjunctions (and, or, for, nor, but), or the “to” in infinitives, except when it is the first word in the title or subtitle. Do capitalize a 2-letter verb, such as Is or Be.
Exceptions are made for some expressions, such as compound terms from languages other than English (eg, Ethical Questions Surrounding In Vitro Fertilization) and phrasal verbs (eg, Weighing In on Bariatric Surgery).
- Capitalize major words in titles, subtitles, and headings of publications; musical compositions, plays (stage and screen), radio and television programs, movies, paintings and other works of art, software programs/apps, websites and weblogs, electronic systems, trademarks; and names of ships, airplanes, spacecraft, awards, corporations, and monuments. Capitalize trademarks and proprietary names of drugs and brand names of manufactured products and equipment. Do not capitalize a coordinating conjunction, an article, or a preposition of ≤3 letters in any of these elements, except when it is the first word in a title or subtitle.
- Example: In a title/heading, app name "headspace Work and Study" will be revised as "Headspace Work and Study."
- If non–proper names that stylistically begin with a lowercase letter appear in titles and headings (eg, mHealth), do not capitalize the first letter.
- Example: An mHealth Intervention for People With Dementia...
- Although email is no longer hyphenated, because it has become a commonly used word (like eHealth; see glossary below), newer compounds that start with “e-” retain the hyphen. In such words, In such words, the “e-” should not be capitalized in a heading or at the start of a sentence.
- Example: “e-Cigarettes and Future Battles in the Fight Against Smoking” in titles, but “Minnesota health officials are planning to release results of the state’s first-ever survey on the use of e-cigarettes.” Other examples in titles: e-Mental, e-Learning, e-Patient, e-Prescribing
- Similar capitalization in titles applies to intercapped compounds of trade/brand names; they should be presented as eBay, iPhone, etc, in titles and headings.
- Hyphenated compounds: In titles and headings, capitalize both parts of the compound (eg, Low-Level Activity, Population-Based Study, Drug-Resistant Bacteria). There is no exception for compounds in which (1) either part is a prefix or suffix (eg, Self-Referral to Psychiatrists; Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) or (2) both parts together constitute a single word as per the current edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (eg, Long-Term Treatment of Diabetes; Cross-Sectional Study of Patients With Malaria; Meta-Analysis in Nutrition Research).
- Capitalize the first letter of a word that follows a lowercase (but not a capital) Greek letter, a numeral (except when an abbreviated unit of measure that never is capitalized follows), a symbol, or an italicized organic chemistry prefix such as trans- and cis- (eg, Systemic Adverse Effects of Ophthalmic β-Blockers, High-Dose 308-nm Excimer Laser, Concurrent Use of cis-Platinum)
Capitalize the formal name of a genus in the title, but lowercase the species name.
Example: Helicobacter pylori and the Patient With Ulcers
- Remove hyperlinks used within the text or abstract, as they cause typesetting issues.
- If URLs are cited in the manuscript, add them as a reference (or ask the author to do so) before loading the manuscript into RefCheck.
- Exception: If a direct quote contains a URL, it can be left in the text if it does not affect the kerning. If it does affect the kerning, replace the URL with [link].
5. Indefinite Articles
- "An" is used with abbreviations that begin with vowel sounds even though the spelled-out form would require the use of "a," and vice versa.
- Examples: an MD degree, a UV source, an SMS diary
- DO NOT use italics for titles in the reference list.
- Italics are not used if words are considered to have become part of the English language (eg, in vivo, in vitro).
- Some statistical terms are italicized (eg, P, r, t test, U, F, d).
- The term “sic” is italicized.
- Use italics for long quotes (1 sentence) and whenever several patient excerpts are presented—these will be styled as Blockquotes.
7.1 General Guidelines on Number Usage
- Numerals should be used to express numbers in most circumstances (eg, use “3” instead of "three")
- Do not spell out numbers as words in a quantitative results context
- Do not automatically spell out numbers less than 10. Consider the context; if "two" is used in the introduction or discussion, and not used in a quantitative context (eg, “2 participants”), the word should probably be used instead of the numeral
For clarity, given below are guidelines on when to use a numeral versus when to spell out a number.
7.2 Specific Examples for Use of Numerals Instead of Words
- When indicating a quantity that can be counted
- “Participants were administered 3 questionnaires”
- “There were 9 males and 6 females in the study group, of which 3 had...,”
- “A 5-point Likert scale”
- “We studied 37 patients with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 who underwent 1 or more surgical procedures from January 1, 1973, to April 30, 2004”
- “During 1 of the 17 laboratory runs, it was observed...”
- When indicating a measurable quantity that is associated with a unit
- “The patient weighed 79.5 kg,”
- “In total, 76% of participants..."
- “After 8 weeks, all...”
- “It took 5 minutes...”
- “A statistically significant mean difference in weight loss of 15.5 kg was found between the 2 groups”
- When describing statistics and indicating directionality in statistical tests (AMA Manual of Style, 11th edition, chapter 19.6)
- “2-sided alternate hypothesis”
- “2-tailed t test”
- When expressing fold-changes
- Example: “We observed a 3-fold increase in CRP levels”
- When indicating clock positions
- Example: “the canula was inserted at the 8-o’clock position”
- When expressing ordinals 10th onwards (33rd, 22st)
- Note: "st," "nd," "rd," and "th" are not superscripted
- When indicating large numbers
- “The government spent 100 million dollars on this project”
- “This planet has more than 7 billion people”
7.3 Specific Examples for Use of Words Instead of Numerals
- When they appear at the beginning of sentences
- “Fourteen individuals were included in the trial group” (alternatively, the sentence could be revised to start with another word; eg, “In total, 14 individuals were included in the trial group”)
- “One review of 20 guidelines found that only 2 addressed outcomes” (reword to: “In a recent study, authors reviewed 20 guidelines and found that only 2 of them addressed outcomes…”)
- “Nine of the included studies collected survey data” (reword to: “Of the included studies, 9 collected survey data…”)
- When they appear before an in-sentence numbered list. When an in-sentence numbered list is used, the focus of the reader should be on the list rather than on the number preceding the list; since a numeral would appear distracting in this case, the number should be spelled out.
- “We measured two parameters: (1) blood pressure and (2) pulse”
- “This study has two objectives: (1) to assess the uptake of the technology and (2) to analyze its usability among in-hospital patients.”
- When they are used as pronouns
- “One could assume that”
- “…than that of those two”
- When 2 numerical values are placed one after the other consecutively
- “In 2020, four-hundred patients died of COVID-19” (alternatively, a spacer could be inserted between the 2 numerical entities to avoid readability issues that may arise from having two numerals next to each other; eg, “in 2020, a total of 400 patients died of COVID-19”)
- “5 16-day cycles” should be revised to “five 16-day cycles”
- When expressing common fractions
- Examples: “one-third,” “two-fifths”
- When using ordinals first through ninth (however, some ordinals are spelled out by convention [eg, “Twenty-fifth Amendment”]; look up such instances on Google before changing their usage)
- Exception: when a sentence contains 2 or more ordinals, at least one of which is greater than ninth, all should be expressed in numeric form; eg, “children in the 5th and 10th grades were included in the survey” (AMA Manual of Style, 11th edition, chapter 18.2.4)
- When using common adjectival phrases
- Example: “our method does not assume a one-size-fits-all approach”
- When numbers are used in common (conversational) phrases and when “one” is used to point out to 1 entity among several entities
- “This is one of the most versatile tools”
- “It takes an hour or two to travel downtown”
- “The pandemic will end one fine day”
- “The Ten Commandments”
- “On the one hand”
- Other numbers, most often zero, two, and large rounded numbers, also may be written as words in circumstances in which use of the numeral would place an unintended emphasis on a precise quantity or would be confusing
- “We used two methods to…”
- “There are three common display formats…”
- “There are four types of information systems…”
- Spell out numbers for generally accepted usage, such as idiomatic expressions. When one may be replaced by a or a single without changing the meaning, the word one rather than the numeral is usually appropriate
7.4 Negative Numbers
- Use a negative symbol (−) or en dash (–) to represent the minus sign.
- DO NOT use a hyphen.
- An en dash is often easier to implement and is an acceptable substitute for the technically more correct minus sign; whichever you choose to use, make sure you are consistent.
7.5.1. General Guidelines for Percentages
- Use the percent sign, without a space.
- Example: 58% (58/100)
- Repeat the percent sign in ranges.
- Example: 24%-29%; between 50% and 55% (NOT 24-29%, between 50 and 55%)
- JMIR requires that n/N values are reported in conjunction with percentages within running text.
- Example: Of the 80% (40/50) of participants that were included...
7.5.2. Absolute Values and Percentages
JMIR prefers that authors always state the absolute values that correspond to percentages in tables. Note for copyeditors: If tables contain only percentages without absolute values, ask the authors to provide the absolute values—if they are unable to provide the absolute values, then they must provide a note (to be added to the caption of the table or as a footnote) stating why they are unable to do so (eg, in the case of percentages that have been adjusted by weighting).
- If, for example, a table column reports the number of participants in a study, both n and percent, in the format: n (%), should be present.
- In a table, the percent sign should ONLY appear in the header (not in the body of the table), for example, "Participants, n (%)".
- Use decimal format for numbers with units of measure, or whenever a precise measurement is intended.
- Numerical values less than 1 require a zero before the decimal point (except for certain statistical values that cannot exceed 1, such as P, α, and β—eg, P<.001).
- Mixed fractions are not generally used, but, on occasion, are used with less formal text, especially for expressions of time.
- Examples: 12.3 mm, 0.7 g, 2½ years
Note: formerly it was required that percentages corresponding to numbers ≥1000, were reported to 2 decimal points. This rule has been amended, so that corresponding percentages to numbers ≥1000 can be reported to 2 decimal points, but it is no longer a requirement. For example, if the authors have provided percentages to 2 decimal points, leave them as is, but if the authors have only provided percentages to 1 decimal point, there is no need to request an adjustment.
Whichever the authors choose, copyeditors must ensure their consistency of use in the manuscript.
7.7 Number Spacing
- Numbers greater than 9999 have a comma to separate thousands, millions, etc.
7.8 Spacing Around Equality or Inequality Signs
- DO NOT insert spaces before and after equality or inequality signs.
- If this is missed, our typesetting scripts automatically remove these spaces. You do not need to spend time inserting or removing spaces. For example, (P < .001) is changed automatically to (P<.001) and (n = 12) is changed automatically to (n=12) during typesetting.
Units of measure
- Most units of measure (SI units recommended) are abbreviated (without expansion) when used with numerals, in parenthetical text, and in a virgule construction. However, abbreviations for measures of time (d, h, ms, min, mo, s, wk, and y) should be used only in a virgule construction; in parenthetical text; and in tables, figures, and textboxes. The expanded units (day, hour, millisecond, minute, month, second, week, and year) should be used in running text. Copyeditors are encouraged to consult the AMA Manual of Style, section 13.12 (11th edition), for specific examples and spell out uncommon abbreviations at first mention with the abbreviated form in parentheses.
- Note that per the AMA section 17.3.2, the same symbol is used for single and multiple quantities; unit symbols are not expressed in the plural form.
"The participants exercised daily (aerobics: 25 min)"
"The participants exercised daily for 25 minutes..."
“…the patient weighed 78.5 kg…” (not “…the patient weighed 78.5 kgs…”)
- Use Celsius scale (°C)
- Values in degrees Fahrenheit (°F) should be converted to °C
- Add a space between the numeral and the unit of measure
...body temperature exceeding 37.5 °C
- Time should be reported conventionally (and not in European or military time, ie, on the 24-hour clock). Note: AMA states that time should be styled as "small capitals"; however, our scripts are unable to accommodate this type of stylization, so instead "AM" and "PM" are used.
- Report "12 PM" and "12 AM" as "noon" and "midnight," respectively.
- If time is reported on the hour, ":00" is not required.
- Exception: Time can be reported on the 24-hour clock if it is specifically referencing literature from the study.
Examples: 7 PM, 10:30 AM
- The commonly used sets of era designations are:
- AD (anno Domini, in the year of the Lord)
- BC (before Christ)
- CE (common era)
- BCE (before the common era)
AMA has no particular preference for which set is used, as long as CE and BCE are used equivalently to AD and BC, and not used interchangeably. Note that the abbreviation AD precedes the year number, and BC, CE, and BCE follow it. Note: AMA states that the abbreviations should be styled as "small capitals"; however, our scripts are unable to accommodate this type of stylization, so regular capitals are used instead.
400 BC, AD 2018
400 BCE, 2018 CE
- Use the serial comma.
Example: This was evident for children, teens, and adults.
- Do not use the Word ellipsis symbol—use three periods instead.
- There are no spaces before or after ellipsis points.
Example: This was...already discussed.
- No space before or after an em dash.
Example: All these medications—antidepressants, barbiturates, antipsychotics, and sedatives—must be used with caution.
- DO NOT use a hyphen with the following prefixes, except when they precede a proper noun or acronym: anti, ante, bi, co, contra, counter, de, extra, infra, inter, intra, macro, meso, micro, mid, neo, non, over, peri, pre, post, pro, pseudo, re, semi, sub, super, supra, trans, tri, ultra, un, under
- An exception can be granted to the no hyphen rule if the hyphen-less compound word can be misread (eg, codesign can be misinterpreted as "code" and "sign"; use co-design instead)
- Hyphens DO need to be used for the above prefixes if the compound word would result in:
- Two of the same vowels back-to-back (eg, re-evaluate)
- Three of the same consonants back-to-back (eg, hull-less, bell-like)
- Use an en dash (not a hyphen) when attaching modifiers (eg, "based") to compound words (eg, "mobile phone"): use "mobile phone–based app", NOT "mobile phone-based app"
- Consult Merriam-Webster for word breaks
- In the absence of a rule or a dictionary entry, copyeditors should employ hyphens to avoid ambiguity.
- Use hyphens, not en dashes, for numerical ranges. When one of the values in the range is negative, use "to" instead of the hyphen. See table-specific guidelines on hyphens here.
- DO NOT use a hyphen as a minus sign (use Word's minus sign in the symbol menu or an en dash)
- To be internally consistent, use eHealth, mHealth, and eSource; not e-health, e-Health, m-health, m-Health, or e-source (also for other xHealth neologisms).
Examples: antidepressant, nonuser, semisolid, 10-25
- Numbered lists within a sentence use parentheses.
Example: The objectives were (1) to assess..., (2) to analyze data..., and (3) to follow up on...
- Phrases using the abbreviations "ie," and "eg," should be placed in parentheses.
Example: The colors (eg, green, blue, orange) were selected based on...
- DO NOT use quotation marks for titles within the reference list.
- Use quotation marks for short quotes within the text.
- Use single quotation marks for quotes within quotes only.
The participants emphasized the importance of being motivated to succeed. One participant said, “You have to want to succeed before the app can help you" (P12, male, 75 years old).
- Use sparingly and only if absolutely necessary. Where possible, convert things such as exclusion/inclusion criteria, single word bullet items, etc into full sentences.
...including the following:
- newspaper articles
- journal articles
Should be converted to: ...including the following: websites, newspaper articles, and journal articles.
- Use end punctuation at the end of each point only if the point forms a complete sentence.
- Do not indent lists in the Word doc, our scripts will do this automatically during typesetting.
- Use sparingly and only if absolutely necessary.
- Numbered lists should use Arabic numerals followed by a period.
- First item, usually a longer sentence.
- Second item, another longer sentence.
- Third item, the last sentence.
- Numbered lists within a sentence (use for shorter items) use parentheses.
Example: The objectives were (1) to assess..., (2) to analyze data..., and (3) to follow up on...
- If the author uses numbers to number longer paragraphs (eg, to enumerate arguments), the preferred style is to give an outline of what is coming, and then use ordinals (eg, first, second, third) to enumerate the arguments.
In the following paragraph, the three main arguments for why this is not the case will be discussed. They are (1) the timeliness argument, (2) the internet paradox, and (3) the digital divide argument.
First, the timeliness argument refers to the observation that...
Second, the internet paradox states that...
Third, the digital divide argument...
- Editorial policy states that blockquotes are to be used if any of the following conditions are met:
- quotes are longer (1 sentence)
- multiple quotes appear in succession (eg, from different participants from interviews/focus groups)
- if a quote stands at the very beginning of an article as an introduction
- Do not use bullet points when multiple quotes are presented in succession.
- In contrast, we use "in-sentence" quotes with quotation marks if there is only a singular, short quote.
- Note for copyeditor: If more than one-third of a page is filled with quotes, it might make sense to suggest to the author/editor to put the quotes in a textbox or a table (the table would have two columns: "Theme/category" and "Illustrative quote").
- Blockquotes are styled in italics and indented (no quotation marks). Optionally, the speaker (eg, a patient identifier, or an author) is indicated at the end of the paragraph in square brackets (not italic).
...I often feel disappointed by the very people who supposedly care for me. They make decisions about me without including me. [Patient #24, male]
Registered Trademarks, Trademark Symbols, Service Marks
(™)/(®)/(℠) should never be used in scholarly articles (see our policy on http://www.jmir.org/about/editorialPolicies#custom5.)
- In accordance with this policy, please remove all (®)/(™)/(℠) or (wrongly used) (©) symbols after names or terms. Instead of these symbols, please capitalize the initial letter of these terms.
- Per the AMA Manual of Style (11th edition - section 22.214.171.124): Use an initial capital letter followed by all lowercase letters (eg, Xerox, Kodak, Scopus, Embase) unless the trademark name is an abbreviation (eg, IBM, JAMA, DSM-5) or uses an intercapped construction (eg, PubMed, iTunes)...Online databases, if trademarked, can be listed in all capital letters (eg, MEDLINE, CINAHL, SCIE).
- Some authors may wish to include a note in the Conflicts of Interest or Acknowledgment section concerning certain words or phrases that are trademarked; however, this is not required.
Equipment, Reagents, Devices, and Software
Nonproprietary names are preferred to proprietary names for devices, equipment, and reagents. However, if several brands of the same product are being compared or if the use of proprietary names is necessary for clarity or to replicate the study, proprietary names should be given at first mention along with the nonproprietary name.
When providing a proprietary name of any product (or software) in a paper, the name of the manufacturer/supplier/developer is also important and should be included in parentheses after the name or description. Because the location of the manufacturer/developer is easy to look up online, this information is no longer required.
Average daily 24-hour activity was measured using a triaxial GT3x+ accelerometer (ActiGraph).
Statistical analysis was conducted using SPSS software (version 20.0; IBM Corp).
All statistical analyses were performed using R software (version 4.1.2; R Foundation for Statistical Computing), including the tidyverse package (version 1.3.2)... [note the use of italics for the package name]
Biological nomenclature (see AMA Manual of Style 10th Ed., 15.14.1: Biological Nomenclature) refers to the unique, Latinized, 2-word term for each individual species, called the binomial—or sometimes called the binary or binominal (eg, Homo sapiens).
- Broken up into “Genus” (Homo) and “species” (sapiens).
- The binomial is always italicized.
- Genus is always capitalized; species is always sentence case.
- Treat each part of the manuscript (title, abstract, text, etc) separately, and use the expanded form of the binomial in each. After the first expanded use of the binomial, abbreviate the genus portion; however, do not use a period—as per JAMA and the Archives Journals (eg, H sapiens).
- Never abbreviate the species name
- Do not abbreviate the genus name when used alone
- Do not begin a sentence with an abbreviated genus; either expand the binomial or reword the sentence
Virus nomenclature (see AMA Manual of Style 11th Ed, 14.14.3 Virus Nomenclature)
- For reasons of internal consistency, JAMA and the Archives Journals do not italicize names of viral taxa above genus; however, they do italicize formal viral genus and species names.
- A term ending in -virales, -viridae, or -virinae should be capitalized (eg, parvoviridae should be changed to Parvoviridae)
- Vernacular names are never italicized (eg, West Nile virus).
- A term ending in -virus may be a formal or common/vernacular name, and should be revised as necessary—query the author if you are unsure. For example, West Nile virus (common name) may be left as is, or changed to Flavivirus (formal name).
- It is useful to give the formal, taxonomic identity of a virus at first mention in a paper, after which the informal name can typically be used.
14. Race or Ethnicity:
We use the following capitalization style as per the most recent AMA guidelines:
"Black" and "White" (adj) when describing race.
15. Description of Countries Based on Socioeconomic Status
16. List of Common Terms Used
African American (n & adj)
app/apps — do NOT expand to "application" or "applications" if authors refer to a mobile app; copyeditors are asked to replace "application" with "app" (but only if authors are referring to a mobile app)
among — not amongst
Android — in reference to the product
ante mortem (after the noun)
antemortem (before the noun)
behavior change technique/intervention — not behavioral
Black — referring to a person (adj)
carry over (v)
chi-square — AMA: lower case c
cisgender (adj) — NOT cisgendered
cisgender person/people (n)
coauthor (AMA, MW)
co-design — not codesign, since this may be misread as "code" and "sign"
cognitive behavioral therapy — NOT behavior
coworker (AMA, MW)
crowdsourcing — NOT crowd-sourcing
CT scan — not CAT scan
data — plural; eg, the data were collected...
data sharing (v)
decision-making (n, adj) (but decision maker)
disc — only for compact disc, videodisc, and optic disc
disk — for all cases other than the three listed above
drop out (v)
dropout (n, adj)
eHealth — not e-health
end user (n)
e-patient (Source: Ferguson)
eSource — not e-source
field test (n)
follow up (v)
follow-up (n & adj)
forums — plural of forum
hairs/hair: Use "hairs" when countable (eg, Three hairs were collected...) and "hair" if the term is being used collectively (eg, All participants had brown hair...)
HbA1c (note subscript formatting of "1c"; see AMA guidance)
health care (n & adj)
intention-to-treat (ITT) analysis
internet — updated for JMIR on 02/02/2018; see AMA
internet-based (adj) — Note: Preferably use “web-based” and/or “mobile” and/or “electronic game.” Avoid ambiguous terms like “online,” “virtual,” and “interactive.” Use “internet-based” only if an intervention includes non–web-based internet components (eg, email). Use “computer-based” or “electronic” only if offline products are used. Use “virtual” only in the context of “virtual reality” (3D worlds). Use “online” only in the context of “online support groups.”
iPhone — Note: At least in the title, complement or substitute product names with broader terms for the class of products (eg, use “mobile phone” or “smartphone” instead of “iPhone”), especially if the application runs on different platforms.
k-nearest neighbor (but K-nearest neighbor at the beginning of a sentence)
LGBTQ — lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer; use in place of "gay community" unless the population in question includes exclusively gay men. Variations such as “LGB” (lesbian, gay, bisexual) are allowed when only those specific subcategories of people are being addressed in the study. If the author chooses to use LGBT+ or LGBTQ+ in their styling, it can be left as is.
life span (n)
log in (v)
log-in (n & adj)
log on (v)
log-on (n & adj)
MEDLINE (as in Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online)
mHealth — not m-health
mixed methods (n & adj)
moderate to vigorous (adj; AMA)
N/A — "not applicable"; for use in Tables, do not use NA (note the /)
online — Note: Preferably use “web-based” and/or “mobile” and/or “electronic game.” Avoid ambiguous terms like “online,” “virtual,” “interactive.” Use “internet-based” only if an intervention includes non–web-based internet components (eg, email). Use “computer-based” or “electronic” only if offline products are used. Use “virtual” only in the context of “virtual reality” (3D worlds). Use “online” only in the context of “online support groups.”
on-site (adj; MW)
PDF — does not require expansion
peer review (n & v)
pilot test (n)
policy making (n & v)
post mortem (after noun)
postmortem (before noun)
post partum (after noun)
postpartum (before noun)
"pre- and posttest" — AMA Section 2, 8.3.1
problem-solving (n & adj)
quitline (as for helpline)
randomized controlled trial (RCT)
real time (n)
Rx (do not use the special character "℞")
screen capture — for a still frame from a video (not screen shot)
smartphone — previously it was required that this term be replaced by "mobile phone" to aid in indexing and retrieval. Update: It is no longer necessary to specify "mobile phone" or "smartphone" or to explain what is meant by “smartphone" — however, "mobile phone" must be included in the keywords if "smartphone" is used in the paper. (G, 10/2018)
television (not TV)
toolkit — for use in computer- and tech-related contexts, meaning a set of computer-software tools
toward — not towards
transgender (adj) — NOT transgendered; never trans* as an umbrella term (see http://www.transstudent.org/asterisk)
transgender person/people (n)
URL — does not require expansion
wait-list or wait-listed (v)
waitlist or waiting list (n)
White — referring to a person (adj)
Wilcoxon signed rank test (no hyphen, per AMA)
World Wide Web
worldwide (adj & adv)
youths/youth: Use "youths" when countable (eg, Three youths were given...) and "youth" if the term is being used collectively (eg, The youth of today...)
3D — not "3-D" or "three-dimensional" when used as an adjective (the same guideline applies for alike terms)
For editorial style on reporting statistics, please see: Guidelines for reporting statistics
- What style guide does JMIR follow?
- Do you use American or British English spelling?
- How should references be formatted? Which journal style should I choose when using Endnote etc.
- Which abbreviations don't need to be expanded?
- How should headings be formatted?
- Guidelines for reporting statistics