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.
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, don't 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...").
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…"
"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."
Abbreviations and acronyms
- Spell out terms in full upon their first use, and include the abbreviation in parentheses only if the term is used again in the paper.
- Avoid author-invented abbreviations. Abbreviations of common words or phrases, such as "Web-based education (WBE)” vs “paper-based education (PBE)" introduced by the author should be expanded for clarity, as these abbreviations tend to obscure meaning.
- This rule applies even if the abbreviation is commonly used in the literature but still obscures meaning for the reader (eg, “PwD” for “person(s) with dementia”).
- On the other hand, abbreviations in tables are often necessary due to space restrictions. Include a footnote containing the expanded form of each abbreviation and add them to the Abbreviations section at the end of the paper.
- Abbreviations that appear exclusively in figures do NOT need to be added to the Abbreviations section, but they should be defined in the caption of the figure.
- Avoid any abbreviations in the paper title, unless AMA approves of its condensed form (see list below)
- Avoid abbreviations in subheadings. Words should be spelled out even if they have been introduced before. Exceptions:
- Abbreviate the word if it would lead to a very long subheading
- Abbreviate the word if AMA approves of its condensed form or if the abbreviation is common (see Which abbreviations don't need to be expanded?)
- Ensure that the expanded form of mHealth and eHealth are mentioned at their first use and add these terms to the Abbreviation section.
- 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.
- Use headline style caps for all titles and headings.
- If terms 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...
- DO capitalize prepositions of 4 or more letters in titles and headings, per AMA style.
- Examples: From, With, Into
- 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].
- "An" is used with abbreviations and acronyms 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.
- 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 )
Abbreviations of names or titles
- Do not include periods with honorifics (courtesy titles), scientific terms, and abbreviations.
- "Grant No." (for "number") can be used in the Acknowledgements section; however, if "No. of Participants" appears in the column header of a table, change to "Participants, n (%)".
- "St." 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).
- See AMA Manual of Style 10th Ed, 2.1, Manuscript Preparation, Titles and Subtitles; 2.2, Manuscript Preparation, Bylines and End-of-Text Signatures; and 14.0, Abbreviations
- Numerals should be used to express numbers in most circumstances. Especially when used in a quantitative results context, do not spell out numbers as words (eg, use “3” instead of "three"). Note: It is not necessary, however, to "automatically" spell out numbers less than 10. Instead, consider the context; chances are, if "two" is used in the introduction or discussion, and not used in a quantitative context (eg, 2 participants), the word should be used instead of the numeral.
- Use numerals with all units.
- AMA exceptions include:
- Sentences that begin with a number—try to reword the sentence; however, you can spell out the number if it is unavoidable (eg, Two participants were excluded…)
- Common fractions (eg, one-third)
- “One” used as a pronoun (eg, One might consider the differences…)
- Idiomatic expressions and other numbers, most often zero, two, and large rounded numbers, also may be written as words in circumstances in which the use of the numeral would place an unintended emphasis on a precise quantity or would be confusing (eg, Any one of the 12 individuals might…).
- Ordinals lower than “10th” (eg, first, third, 10th, 12th)
- Note: "st", "nd", "rd", and "th" are sentence case (not superscript)
- See AMA Manual of Style 10th Ed, Chapter 19.2.
Specific examples for use of numerals instead of words:
There were 9 males and 6 females in the study group, of which 3 had...
In total, 76% of participants...
After 8 weeks, all...
It took 5 minutes...
A 5-point Likert scale...
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...
Specific examples for use of words instead of numerals:
There are at least two reasons for this... ["at least" always implies that the number may not be accurate, so the use of a numeral would look odd]
In the last two decades.... [Again, "in the last" implies some degree of inaccuracy. Note that this is different from "In the last 2 years", which may have a more precise meaning]
This study has two objectives...
We used two methods to...
There are three common display formats...
There are four types of information systems...
- 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.
- 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...
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
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.
- Numbers greater than 9999 have a comma to separate thousands, millions, etc.
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.
- 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, 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.
- AMA uses hyphens rather than en dashes for inclusive number ranges.
- 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 and mHealth; not e-health, e-Health, m-health, or m-Health (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.
- 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
(™)/(®)/(℠) policy on http://www.jmir.org/about/editorialPolicies#custom6:
"Certain names, graphics, logos, icons, designs, words, titles or phrases on this website or in JMIR articles may constitute trade names, trademarks or service marks of JMIR or other entities. As customary in scholarly articles, trademarks and service marks are not necessarily indicated as such by using the trademark (™), service mark (℠), or registered trademark (®) symbols. The display of trademarks on pages at this website does not imply that a license of any kind has been granted."
- In accordance with this policy, please remove all (®)/(™)/(℠) or (wrongly used) (©) symbols after names or terms. Instead of these symbols, please capitalize these words.
- 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.
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 10th Ed., 15.14.3 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.
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 as is.
Correct: matched and mismatched
Correct: matched or mismatched
- 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…)
SMS vs text messaging
Although both are correct, note preferences for specific usages:
- In titles and headings, "text messaging" or "texting" is better, as to avoid acronyms and abbreviations.
- In the Abstract, both should be used, for example, "SMS (short message service) text messaging interventions."
- In the body of the manuscript, the preference is to use "texting" or "SMS text messaging".
- Define SMS in full on first occurrence (in both the Abstract and body of the manuscript), and include SMS in the Abbreviations section.
- Use American spelling.
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
behavior change technique(s) — not behavioral
black — referring to a person
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)
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
e-learning — E-Learning in titles
end user (n)
e-patient (Source: Ferguson)
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...)
health care (n & adj)
intention-to-treat (ITT) analysis
internet — updated for JMIR on 02/02/2018; see http://www.amamanualofstyle.com/page/updates#2016_06_01)
internet-based (adj) — 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”.
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.
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 (Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online)
mHealth — not m-health
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)
"pre- and posttest" — AMA Section 2, 8.3.1
problem solving (n)
quitline (as for helpline)
randomized controlled trial (RCT)
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)
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
webpage — NOTE: Although AMA uses "Web page" throughout their style guide, it neither specifies for nor against the use of "webpage.")
white — referring to a person
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", numeral preferred to "three-dimensional"
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