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Manuscript Requirements

The editorial staff of Preventing Chronic Disease (PCD) uses the AMA Manual of Style, 10th Edition, to review and revise manuscripts before publication for organization, clarity, accuracy, and style. Please consult this reference book on such matters as usage, nomenclature, punctuation, and other standards and conventions.

If you do not follow the general guidelines and requirements outlined below, your manuscript will be returned.

  • Create manuscript in Microsoft Word or save as a .doc file. Other file extensions are not acceptable.
  • Use 12-point Times New Roman font. 
  • Double space every page.
  • Do not indent the first word of each paragraph; leave an extra line between paragraphs. 
  • Put only one space after punctuation marks, including periods. 
  • Use left justification for all text; do not center article titles or author names. 
  • Number each page in sequence. 
  • Use italics (rather than underline) for scientific names. 
  • Submit figures (with figure titles and legends placed below figures) in a file separate from the text. 
  • Include tables with the text document, placing them after the References section. Do not upload tables in a separate document.
  • For manuscripts requiring sections, use the following order


Title page

  • Include full name, highest degree(s) or professional certification(s), and affiliated institution of each author. Academic degrees below the master’s level are usually omitted unless these are the highest degree held. Provide the name of the institution where the work was done, if different from author’s present institution. 
  • Identify clearly the corresponding author and his or her mailing address, telephone number, and e-mail address. 
  • Provide separate word counts for the abstract and for the full text.

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PCD limits the number of authors to 10 in most cases; any manuscript with more than 10 authors requires a justification explaining the contributions of each author. PCD permits group authorship in cases of large collaborations. Additional contributions may be attributed in the Acknowledgments section of the manuscript.

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Key words

Provide up to 10 key words; use terms listed in the Medical Subject Headings from Index Medicus.

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  • An abstract must be submitted for the following types of articles: Original Research, Special Topic, Systematic Review, Community Case Study, Tools and Techniques, and Brief. Abstracts are not required for an Essay, Book Review, Letter, or Announcement.
  • Maximum number of words depends on the type of article. See Types of Articles
  • For reports on original research, use a structured format with the following headings: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Conclusion. Consult Types of Articles for information on requirements for other types of articles. 
  • Do not cite references in the abstract. 
  • Do not use acronyms, abbreviations, or initialisms in the abstract.

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  • See Types of Articles for exact specifications. 
  • For Original Research articles, use the following subheadings in the body of the text: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion.
  • For Community Case Studies, use the following subheadings in the body of the text: Background, Community Context, Methods, Outcome, and Interpretation.

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This section identifies sources of financial support for the work being published. If there are no such acknowledgments, we will assume that you received no such support. In addition, this section lists donors of equipment or supplies, technical assistance, and other important contributions from individuals who do not qualify for authorship. It also includes any statements disclaiming endorsement or approval of any views or products mentioned in the paper. The AMA Manual of Style describes contributions commonly recognized in Acknowledgments. Individuals identified in Acknowledgments must provide written consent to be acknowledged; corresponding authors are responsible for obtaining these permissions.

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See References Guide for detailed instructions and examples of how to properly format references according to PCD style. Any manuscripts with incorrect formatting of references will be returned to the author for revisions.

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  • Include no more than 3 tables.
  • Because tables should be clearly understood without reference to the text, titles should include details of place of study, dates of study, and study population (if applicable).
  • Create tables with Microsoft Word’s table tool. Use the “Table Grid” format.
  • Use single space.
  • Our HTML format does not allow wide tables. Overly wide tables will be returned to the author for proper formatting. Tables should fit into portrait orientation rather than landscape and use Times New Roman font size 12. This requirement may call for the reorganization of data.
  • Do not use paragraph returns, tabs, or extra spaces to create tables or align cells. No cell should contain a paragraph return or tab. Tables formatted in this way will be returned to the author for proper formatting.
  • Each piece of data must be contained in its own cell, except for point estimates and their measures of precision. These data should be combined into 1 cell. For example: “Odds Ratio (95% Confidence Interval)” or “Mean (SD).”
  • Number tables in the order that they are cited in the text. 
  • All abbreviations should be grouped together in one line and placed just below the table, before the footnotes.
  • Because tables should be clearly understood without reference to the text, definitions of special terms should be provided in footnotes.
  • Use superscripted lowercase letters to designate footnotes. Do not use special symbols such as asterisks and daggers.
  • Eliminate all traces of any electronic footnote program. Insert footnotes manually as normal text below the table.
  • Cite references. Designate references with superscript Arabic numbers if they appear within the body of table or with nonsuperscripted numbers in parentheses if they appear in the footnotes.
  • Use symbols from the Word symbols menu to indicate inequalities “less than or equal to” and “greater than or equal to.” Do not use underlining. (This rule applies to the text, too.)
  • Use hyphens, not commas, to separate confidence intervals and ranges.
  • If P values are reported, indicate in a footnote the statistical tests used to determine them.
  • If P values are reported, report actual P values, not inequalities such as <.01 or <.05.
  • Identify all variables and units of measure in either row or column headings. The unit identified in the column head must apply to all items in that column.
  • Explain with a footnote why numbers may not sum to group totals or why percentages do not total the expected value.
  • If you have an empty cell, indicate with a footnote why the cell is empty (eg, data missing, data not available, does not apply).
  • Publishers of figures or tables included in the manuscript and previously published (or adapted from previously published figures or tables) must provide signed consent to the authors to publish this information in PCD. Authors are responsible for obtaining permission to reprint.
  • Consider eliminating or condensing some of your tables. The AMA Manual of Style says, “Although tables frequently are used to present many quantitative values, authors should remember that tabulating all collected study data is unnecessary and actually may distract and overwhelm the reader. Data presented in the table should be pertinent and meaningful.”
  • Consult the AMA Manual of Style for further guidance on how to properly construct and present a table.

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Figures and figure captions

  • Submit no more than 2 figures.
  • Color as well as black-and-white images are accepted; colors may be changed during the editing process.
  • Submit the file in the file format in which it was created. In other words, if you created a flow chart in Word, then submit the flow chart as a Word doc; if you created a graph in Excel, then submit the graph as an Excel file, and so on. Failing to submit a figure in the correct format will delay publication of your article.
  • Upload the files as separate documents from the main text. Do not insert any figures (eg, graphs, charts) into the main (Microsoft Word) text document.
  • Number figures in the order that they are cited in the text.
  • All figures will be edited according to the AMA Manual of Style.
  • These are the file types PCD accepts for graphics:
    • Microsoft Word (flow charts, timelines, logic models, other simple visuals that consist primarily of text). These figures must be created in Word and submitted as a Word document; content for these figures cannot be pasted into Word from other sources.
    • Microsoft PowerPoint (flow charts, timelines, logic models, other simple visuals that consist primarily of text). These figures must be created in PowerPoint and submitted as a PowerPoint document; content for these figures cannot be pasted into PowerPoint from other sources.
    • Microsoft Excel (line graph, bar graph). Make sure that the graph is linked to the data used to create it. Do not insert Excel charts or graphs into any other kind of file (eg, PowerPoint, Word) or convert them into other types of files (JPG, PDF, TIF, etc).
    • Adobe Illustrator (.ai file extension) — for charts, graphs, maps, and other complicated visuals.
    • Adobe Encapsulated PostScript (.eps file extension) — for charts, graphs, maps, and other complicated visuals.
    • We also can use files with the file extension .svg or .drw file for charts, graphs, maps, and other complicated visuals.
    • All maps should be submitted as vector-based files (extensions .ai, .eps, .svg, .drw) formatted to fit a standard 8.5 in x 11 in portrait layout.
    • High-resolution JPG and TIF files — for photographs only.
  • Some Macintosh files may need to be converted into PC format, which is what we work in at PCD. To determine if you need to convert a file, first check the application used to make the figure. If the figure was created using Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Power Point), no conversion is needed for either the Mac or PC. Similarly, no conversion is needed for files created in Adobe (Photoshop, Illustrator, PDF files), but be sure the Adobe file name includes the correct file extension (for example, .ai, .psd) so it will open on a PC.

Figure Type

File Type Accepted

Graph or chart created in Excel


Graph or chart not created in Excel

  • .ai
  • .eps
  • .svg
  • .drw


  • flow chart
  • timeline
  • logic model
  • figure consisting primarily of text and text boxes
  • Word
  • PowerPoint


  • flow chart
  • timeline
  • logic model
  • figure consisting of text and images
  • .ai
  • .eps
  • .svg
  • .drw

Map or other complicated image

  • .ai
  • .eps
  • .svg
  • .drw


  • High-resolution JPG
  • High-resolution TIF


  • Write a title and caption for each figure. A caption is the text that follows the figure title. A caption is not a key, so it should not be placed in the graphic itself. Captions describe and clarify the figure; they are written in sentence format and should provide sufficient detail to make the figure comprehensible without reference to the text. The maximum length is 40 words. Identify the source of the data in the caption. Place the title and caption as text in the manuscript text document after the paragraph in which it is first mentioned.
  • Beneath each caption in the main text document, place the alternative text for the visually impaired. This alternative text will appear on a separate web page from the main article. For bar charts and line graphs, provide the data in table format. For photographs or other similar illustrations, provide a short text description of the image. For flow charts, logic models, or similar diagrams, provide a text description. Maps can use either a text or tabular description. Please see figures in PCD articles for examples of alternative text.
  • Identify all variables and units of measure.
  • Symbols, letters, and numbers should be clear and legible.
  • Place figure key in the figure.
  • Label x-axis and y-axis clearly and consistently. For examples, see the AMA Manual of Style, pages 98–116.
  • For previously published figures or figures adapted from previously published figures, authors must obtain and provide to PCD signed consent from the publisher to publish this information in PCD. Authors are responsible for obtaining permission to reprint.
  • Consult the AMA Manual of Style for further guidance on how to properly construct and present a figure.

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Appendices contain supplementary information to clarify an article's contents for readers. We encourage authors to relegate highly technical material to appendices.

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P values

  • Report exact numbers for P values (eg, P = .03); do not express P values as inequalities (eg, P < .05).
  • Report P values ≥.01 to two digits past the decimal point, regardless of significance (eg, P = .31, P = .04, P = .01).
  • If P < .01, express to three digits past the decimal point.
  • If P < .001, express as P < .001.
  • Do not express P values as numbers with more than three decimal places.
  • P values cannot equal 0 or 1.
  • Refer to the AMA Manual of Style for more detailed information on reporting P values correctly.

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Use of first person 

We encourage authors to use the pronouns I and we as well as the active voice.

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Verb tense

The past tense is typically used to narrate past events, such as the procedures used to carry out a study. The present tense is used for generally accepted facts, authors’ conclusions, and the conclusions of previous researchers. Generally, most of the abstract, methods, and results are in past tense, and most of the introduction and some of the discussion are in present tense. For a discussion of the proper use of verb tense in scientific publications, please refer to the AMA Manual of Style.

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Do not use footnotes except in tables and figures. Indicate footnotes in tables and figures with superscripted lowercase letters (eg, a, b, c, d).

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Race, national origin, and ethnicity

PCD follows the guidelines of the Office of Management and Budget, which published standards (October 30, 1997) for collecting data on race and ethnicity. Five races and two categories of ethnicity are listed.

American Indian or Alaska Native 
Black or African American 
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander 
Hispanic or Latino 
Not Hispanic or Latino

American Indian 
An American Indian is one whose origins are in any of the original people of North, Central, or South America (except Alaska) and who maintains cultural identification through tribal affiliation or community attachment. Whenever possible, specify the nation or peoples (eg, Navajo, Nez Perce, Inuit) rather than use the more general term.

Alaska Native, Alaskan 
An Alaska Native is one whose origins are in any of the original peoples of Alaska and who maintains cultural identification through tribal affiliation or community attachment. An Alaskan is anyone who was born in Alaska or who is a long-term resident of Alaska.

An Asian is one whose origins are in any of the original people of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, The Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

black, African American 
A black person or African American is one whose origins are in any of the black racial groups of Africa. If appropriate, specific terms such as Haitian or Bahamian may also be used. When discussing scientific data, use the term that was used when the research (the source of the data) was being conducted. Note that black is not capitalized (nor is white).

Pacific Islander 
A Pacific Islander is one whose origins are in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific islands. Other terms such as Native Hawaiian may also be used.

A white person is one whose origins are in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa. Note that white is not capitalized (nor is black).

Hispanic, Latino 
A person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race, is Hispanic. The term Spanish origin may also be used.

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The opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors' affiliated institutions.