Scientific and medical journals often have very specific requirements for the title page. These will be listed in the author guidelines of the target journal and should be closely followed.


The full title of the paper should concisely describe the main focus and/or conclusion of the paper. Avoid abbreviations if possible. Some journals specify the maximum number of characters (generally including spaces), such as PLOS Genetics (200 characters) and Pediatrics (97 characters). In addition, some journals request that a short title or running head—with strict character limits—be provided. This will be used in the header and possibly, as noted by Pediatrics, even on the cover of the journal.


Below the main title, provide the author list. Two, or even three, shared first authorships are typically permitted and should be indicated here. One author—sometimes two, although this is often discouraged—will be designated the corresponding author; the full name, address, and contact details (email address and telephone and fax numbers) must generally be provided for the corresponding author. Sometimes the highest academic degree achieved by each author is included (e.g., John P. Smith, MD). Affiliations will generally be marked after each author using superscript letters, numbers, or symbols. If not mentioned in the author guidelines, the easiest way to determine how to list the authors and designate affiliations and the corresponding author is to look at recent papers from the target journal.


Some journals ask that a number of keywords be included on the title page. Sometimes these keywords are located on the second page, after the abstract/summary. Try to be specific. For example, use "diffusion-weighted imaging", not simply "imaging", but do not use too many words that are already in the title as the title is always indexed. Journals sometimes provide lists of suggested keywords (e.g., The Journal of Immunology). Another source of keywords, sometimes recommended by journals, is found in the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH®) database.

Possible requirements

Other details possibly requested by journals include a list of abbreviations, word counts (for the whole paper and/or for individual sections), figure and table counts, subject codes and/or categories, funding sources, acknowledgments, the key points of the article, and conflicts of interest. If these are not mentioned in the author guidelines, they can be omitted (although some of the above are almost always included in the submission, just not on the title page).


Banner image: John Gould, from "Voyage of the Beagle".