Writing and formatting your manuscript

Student links

General links

Technical writing

Technical papers differ from other expository compositions. When a scientist reads a journal article, she expects to see specific things in specific places: an abstract, enough information to replicate or evaluate the experimental approach, a summary and interpretation of the data, and references. 

Manuscripts submitted for the NMJAS competition should be publication-ready for the New Mexico Journal of Science, with standard margins and fonts, using Microsoft Word. The general formatting is: Times New Roman 12pt font; single spaced; left aligned; 1″ margins; and numbered pages.

To familiarize you with these journal articles, a student should scan (or read) several published articles.

Specific requirements for NMJAS

The submitted winning paper for the 2021 NMJAS competition is used below to demonstrate specific requirements. If you have any problem meeting these requirements, please contact your regional director as soon as possible.

Please note that these rules have been revised for 2022 to match those of the NM Journal of Science. 

Cover Sheet

The cover sheet should include contact information

  • Title of paper
  • Division (junior or senior)
  • Student name, home address, phone, email
  • School name, address
  • Sponsor name, address, phone, email

General formatting throughout: Times New Roman 12pt font; single spaced; left aligned; 1″ margins; page numbers at bottom right

Title page

This page should include only the following

TITLE OF PAPER (capitalized, left aligned)
Author’s name

ABSTRACT (capitalized, left aligned)
200 words or less, sentence case. Define the problem, describe the methods used, summarize results, state the conclusions.

Author’s email
Author’s school and city/town

Manuscript body

4,500 word limit to the body

Includes 4 major sections

  • Introduction. Describe the background for your work; state the problem or questions, and the goals. Give appropriate credit for others’ work.
  • Methods. Describe what you did, what materials and equipment you used. Describe the work so someone else could replicate it.
  • Results. Describe what happened. Data should be summarized (raw data can be included as an appendix). Analyze your data using graphs, tables, or descriptions. Label graphs, tables and other graphic elements appropriately. Conclusions go in the Discussion section.
  • Discussion/Conclusions. Describe your conclusions (even the obvious ones) and, if appropriate, discuss suggestions or implications for further work.

Capitalize the title of each section.

References within the body of the paper: includes simple reference enclosed in parentheses – author’s last name and date. For example, To ensure the accuracy of results, models must be validated with data from the real system (Gotelli, 2008). A full citation will be included at the end of the paper. 


Include raw data and any supplementary material. This section is not included in your 4,500-word limit.

Acknowledgments & References

Thank individuals who have helped you in any way with your project.

List the complete information about each reference you cited in the body of the paper in alphabetical order by author.

Citations should be consistent with the style guide for the New Mexico Journal of Science, which uses the author-date format option from the American Chemical Society. The general format is
«Authors». «Date» , «Publication> , «Volume/page».
Several examples are below.

For scientific papers: Foster, J. C.; Varlas, S.; Couturaud, B.; Coe, J.; O’Reilly, R. K. Getting into Shape: Reflections on a New Generation of Cylindrical Nanostructures’ Self-Assembly Using Polymer Building Block. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2019, 141 (7), 2742−2753. DOI: 10.1021/jacs.8b08648.
For a book: Bard, A. J.; Faulkner, L. R. Double-Layer Structure and Absorption. In Electrochemical Methods: Fundamentals and Applications, 2nd ed.; John Wiley & Sons, 2001; pp 534−579.
For a newspaper article: McKay, D. 2000. Arsenic: how much is safe? Albuquerque Journal. July 30, 2000, p. A1.
For a web site: ACS Publications Home Page. https://pubs.acs.org/ (accessed 2019-02-21).

There are always special and odd references such as interviews and dictionary entries. For a complete guide to this author-date style of references, see the ACS Quick Style Guide

Submitting your paper

If you have specific problems such as not being able to insert formulas or format tables, contact your regional director.

When your paper is complete, review the manuscript checklist one more time. Your paper will be judged according to a uniform manuscript judging form.

Then send the document as a Microsoft Word or pdf file to your regional director. 

Additional resources

The specific rules for NMJAS are given above. If you have never written a technical paper, you will find more information and guidelines at these websites.

Formatting Rules for Technical Papers (pdf version of this page, with additional notes)
Author Guidelines (for NM Journal of Science)
How to Write a Science Research Paper (Kansas JAS, good reference for middle school)
Writing Research Papers (David Caprette, Rice University)