Proceedings of the Royal Society B

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Royal Society author guidelines[edit]

Author guidelines

Benefits for authors

This page explains how to prepare your article for submission to any of our journals, with the exception of Biographical Memoirs.

Note that length restrictions, article types and other journal specific information are available on the ‘Author information’ page on each journal website.

From 1 January 2016, it is a condition of publication for the submitting author to provide an Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID) via the online submission system. The benefits of registering an ORCID are outlined here. Provision of ORCIDs by co-authors is strongly encouraged, but not mandatory.

Editorial policies

Please carefully read our ethics and policies page before submitting. Please also review our licensing and open access conditions.

Unless you have opted for open peer review (available in some journals), the referee reports and other correspondence relating to your paper must remain confidential and should not be shared or made publically available.

Formatting your article

For most journals, initial manuscripts can be submitted in all standard file types, including Microsoft Word, LaTeX and PDF. Once an article has been accepted for publication the main manuscript should be submitted as an editable file, not a PDF.

Please note that Biology Letters does not accept PDF for initial manuscripts.

If you are submitting a LaTeX file please see our LaTeX guidelines below.

Submissions should be divided into the following sections.

Title page

Your article title should be a short description of the research you are reporting. The best titles are written with both human readers and search engines in mind; including keywords in your title will help readers discover your article online. Puns should be avoided.

The title page should also contain full names and affiliations for each author as well as the email address of the corresponding author.


The abstract should be no more than 200 words and should not contain references or unexplained abbreviations or acronyms. Your abstract should be concise and informative and should read well as a standalone piece. The general scope of the article as well as the main results and conclusions should be summarised. Please also ensure that your abstract contains all likely search terms, to assist indexers (eg PubMed) which scan only the title and abstract of articles. If possible, it is beneficial to have all your keywords written into the abstract.


Please include at least 3 and up to 6 keywords. Try to avoid overly broad or specialised terms that might be meaningless to a reader.

Think about the words you would use to search online for articles on the same topic; these often make the best keywords. They do not necessarily need to be single words; keywords can include short phrases or terms that are easily recognised by researchers in your field.

Main text

The main text of your article should be split into clearly-labelled sections. Usually these will be background, methods, results, discussion and conclusions, however please feel free to use whatever headings and subheadings best suit your article. Abbreviations should be written out in full on first use.


Research on humans must include a statement detailing ethical approval (including the name of the research body and the project number assigned upon approval) and informed consent where applicable. Research using animals must adhere to local guidelines and state that appropriate ethical approval and licences were obtained. The name of the licensing bodies and the permit number attained must be listed. For more information about preparing this section please visit our ethics and policies page.

Data, code and materials

Please read our data sharing policies carefully before submission.

All papers which report primary data (usually research articles) must include a section which states where the article's supporting data, materials (such as statistical tools, protocols, software) and code can be accessed. As a minimum, sufficient information should be deposited so that published research is fully reproducible, and enough primary data provided so that the results reported can be verified.

Editors and reviewers will be asked to report on the availability of relevant data and materials, so these must be available at the initial submission stage, either as supplementary material or hosted in an external repository with a link included in the manuscript. If you are unable to do this (e.g. if your chosen repository only allows upload after manuscript submission) please contact the Editorial Office to discuss alternative options. Material may be submitted as supplementary files for the review stage, then moved to an external repository during revision, but this must be finalised before resubmission as changes cannot be made after acceptance.

If your supporting data, materials or code have been deposited in an external repository this section should list the database, accession number and any other relevant details. Datasets included here must also be listed in the reference section. Citing datasets and code ensure effective and robust dissemination and appropriate credit to authors.

For example:

  • DNA sequences: Genbank accessions F234391-F234402 [REF#]
  • Phylogenetic data, including alignments: TreeBASE accession number S9123 [REF#]
  • Climate data and MaxEnt input files: Dryad doi:10.5521/dryad.12311 [REF#]

If supporting data, materials or code have been included in the article’s supplementary material, this should be stated here, for example:

The datasets supporting this article have been uploaded as part of the supplementary material.

Competing interests

All manuscripts must include a competing interests section. If you have no competing interests please state ‘I/We have no competing interests’.

Competing interests are defined as those that, through their potential influence on behaviour or content or from perception of such potential influences, could undermine the objectivity, integrity or perceived value of publication. Please see the Competing Interests section of our Openness policy for more information.

If you are unsure whether you have a competing interest please contact the relevant journal editorial office for advice. Authors' contributions

All submissions, other than those with a single author, must include an Authors’ Contributions section which individually lists the specific contribution of each author. The list of authors should meet the criteria provided on our policy page. All contributors who do not meet all of these criteria should be included in the acknowledgements section.

We suggest the following format:

AB carried out the molecular lab work, participated in data analysis, carried out sequence alignments, participated in the design of the study and drafted the manuscript; CD carried out the statistical analyses; EF collected field data; GH conceived of the study, designed the study, coordinated the study and helped draft the manuscript. All authors gave final approval for publication.


Please acknowledge anyone who contributed to the study but did not meet the authorship criteria.


Please list the source of funding for each author.


All our journals use a system based on Vancouver style referencing. All references to the literature cited should be given in the order of their appearance in the text in a consecutively numbered list at the end of the article.

Please note that references to datasets must also be included in the reference list with DOIs where available. For example:

1. Torres-Campos I, Abram PK, Guerra-Grenier E, Boivin G, Brodeur J. 2016 Data from: A scenario for the evolution of selective egg colouration: the roles of enemy-free space, camouflage, thermoregulation, and pigment limitation. Dryad Digital Repository. (

Each reference should contain as many of the following elements as possible:

  • Author surnames with initials (up to 10 before et al. is used)
  • Year of publication
  • Title of paper or book
  • Journal name using standard abbreviation
  • Volume number
  • Book publisher and location
  • First and last page numbers, or article number
  • Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Use the DOI Citation Formatter to help you to format your citation.

EndNote style files are available for most of our journals. For Royal Society Open Science please use the Open Biology style file.

Figure and table captions

Table and figure captions should be included at the end of the manuscript file and should be brief and informative.

Figures and tables

All figures and tables should be numbered and referred to in the text by their number.

Figures should be uploaded as separate files and should include labels which are referred to in the captions. The following file formats are accepted:

  • TIFF
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • JPEG
  • PowerPoint, Excel or Word if the figure was created using 1 of these packages
  • Postscript (PS, EPS or PDF)
  • Adobe Illustrator

TeX/LaTeX-coded figures should be converted to postscript format (PS, EPS or PDF).

Colour figures are welcomed. All figures will be published in colour online (the version of record), but will be reproduced in black and white in the print version of the journal by default. If you feel that print colour is essential for any of your figures, please list the relevant figure numbers on submission of your article. Please note that, because of the high cost of colour printing, the final decision on colour usage is made at the discretion of the Editor.

Figure permissions

Figures from other sources should be fully acknowledged in the caption, and written permission sought for both print and electronic reproduction before being used.

If publishing an open access paper, the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) licence will cover all components of the paper, so any third party material used (eg figures) will also fall under this usage agreement. Permission must be obtained to use any material in this way, and copyright holders must be aware of the terms. This may affect how the same material can be used in other situations. If material cannot be included under the CC-BY licence then this must be identified within the text, eg by adding copyright information to the figure caption, or material must be identified to the Royal Society production team so that the relevant information can be added to the general copyright line for the paper. For more information please see Creative Commons guidance.

Supplementary material

Supplementary material can be used for supporting data sets, supporting movies, figures and tables, and any other supporting material. The main article, however, should stand on its own merit. In addition, the number of references included in the supplementary material should be kept to an absolute minimum as these are not recognised by many indexing services.

Note that supplementary materials are created by the authors themselves and are not edited by the Royal Society so please proof-read these thoroughly before submitting.

All supplementary material will be published under a CC-BY licence. For more information see our data sharing policies and our licence to publish.

We can only consider supplementary material provided in one of the following file formats:


Authors should submit supplementary materials as supporting files with their submission via ScholarOne Manuscripts, including titles and descriptions in the submission form. There is a size limit of 10MB for supplementary material (limit for total material, not per file), due to the difficulties that some users will experience in loading or downloading files. Authors with supplementary material files of a larger size (in particular, movies) should contact the relevant journal editorial office for further assistance.

All supplementary material accompanying an accepted article will be published alongside the paper on the journal website and posted on figshare, an online repository for research data. Files on figshare will be made available approximately one week before the accompanying article so that the supplementary material can be attributed a unique DOI. Online supplementary material will carry the title and description provided during the submission process, so please ensure these are accurate and informative. An example, showing the title and description as provided during the submission process, is available here.

LaTeX guidelines


Style and language

Royal Society journals only accept submissions in English. Spelling should be British English. Abbreviations should be used only when necessary and should be defined when they are first used. SI units should be used throughout.

Authors who believe their manuscripts would benefit from professional editing prior to submission are encouraged to use a language polishing service.

AuthorAid hosts a variety of useful resources to help researchers prepare articles for publication.

Licence to publish and open access

Royal Society Open Science and Open Biology are fully open access journals and all articles in these journals are published under a CC-BY licence. All our other journals offer an open access option. Find out more about our open access options here.

All authors are required to grant us a licence to publish. Please read this carefully before submission.

Open access papers are published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC-BY) licence. This allows anybody to copy, distribute, transmit and adapt, even for commercial purposes, under the condition that the user must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse the user or their use of the work). Users do not need to notify the authors or the publisher about using the material.

Post acceptance information