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Manuscript Requirements

The editorial staff of Preventing Chronic Disease (PCD) uses the AMA Manual of Style, 10th Edition, as our guide 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.

Please also consult the Simplified Checklist for New Submissions if you are submitting a new manuscript or the Full Submission Checklist for Revisions After Peer Review. We have listed additional items below – any rules that you follow from the lists below will help to expedite your submission through the peer and editorial review process

  • Create manuscript in Microsoft Word or save as a .doc or .docx file. Other file extensions are not acceptable.
  • Use 12-point Times New Roman font.
  • Double space every page.
  • Submit figures in a file separate from the text. Do not include the figure title in the figure file. Figure titles and legends should be in the manuscript file after any tables.
  • Include tables with the manuscript document, placing them after the References section. Do not upload tables in a separate document.


Title page

  • Provide the name of the institution where the work was done, if it is 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 usually limits the number of authors to 10; any manuscript with more than 10 authors requires a description of the contributions of each author. PCD permits group authorship for 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 Medicusexternal icon.

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  • An abstract must be submitted for certain types of articles.
  • Maximum number of words depends on the type of article. See Types of Articles.

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This section identifies sources of financial support for the work being published. If financial support was not received, please state this. 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 manuscript. 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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PCD follows ICMJE style for references. See https://www.nlm.nih.gov/bsd/uniform_requirements.htmlexternal icon for guidance.

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Summary Box

In 1 or 2 sentences for each, answer the following: What is already known on this topic? What is added by this report? and What are the implications for public health practice? These answers contain the key public health message, as well as the justification for the publication. Total word limit should be no more than 75‒100 words. Answers longer than 100 words will be edited to meet the word limit.

PCD does not require a summary box for every article type

The following article types have summary boxes:

  • Implementation Evaluation
  • Program Evaluation Brief
  • Original Research
  • Research Brief
  • Systematic Review
  • Tools for Public Health Practice

The following article types do not have summary boxes:

  • GIS Snapshots
  • Letter
  • Essay

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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.
  • Our HTML format does not allow wide tables. Tables should fit into portrait orientation rather than landscape and use a readable text font and size, but do not go below 9 point. 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.
  • 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.
  • If values are reported, indicate in a footnote the statistical tests used to determine them.
  • If values are reported, report actual P values, not inequalities such as <.01 or <.05. Any value smaller than P = .001 may reported as <.001.
  • 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 tables included in the manuscript and previously published (or adapted from previously published 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.
  • Submit 2 versions of each figure:
  1. Except for maps, submit the original figure 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. See guidelines below for acceptable file types for different types of graphics, including specifics for maps.
  2. PDF version of the original figure.
  • 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.
  • Color as well as black-and-white images are accepted; colors may be changed during the editing process.
  • Figures appear 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). (Note: AMA discourages the use of pie charts, so we do not accept these.) 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. Ensure that all text can be edited; do not submit text as a picture.
      • 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 (eg, .jpg, .pdf, .tif).
      • 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.
      • All maps should be submitted as vector-based files (extensions .ai, .eps) formatted to fit a standard 8.5 in x 11 in portrait layout.
      • Photographs should be submitted as high-resolution .jpg files only.
  • Some Mac 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. 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.
File Type Accepted
Figure Type File Type Accepted
Graph or chart created in Excel Excel
Graph or chart not created in Excel
  • .ai
  • .eps
  • .svg
  • 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
Map or other complicated image Maps should fit a standard 8.5 in x 11 in portrait layout. PCD requires 2 files for each map, selecting from the following formats.

1) Vector:

  • .eps
  • .ai
  • .pdf

Make sure that all fonts are embedded, polygons are converted to vector, and any raster images are set to maximum quality. These options are located in the export menu in ArcGIS.

2) Bitmap:

  • 600-dpi .tif
  • 3,000-px wide .png or .jpg

Make sure that all .jpg are set to maximum quality.

  • High-resolution .jpg


  • 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. 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 the figure is first mentioned.
  • See Types of Articles page for word limits on figure captions for each article type.
  • Beneath each caption in the manuscript 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 PCDarticles 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.
  • Publishers of figures included in the manuscript and previously published (or adapted from previously published figures) must provide signed consent to the authors to publish this information in PCD.  Authors are responsible for obtaining permission to reprint.
  • Maps should contain source information within the graphic.
  • Consult the AMA Manual of Style for further guidance on how to properly construct and present a figure.

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  • PCD discourages the use of appendices and other supplemental files.
  • Appendices must be independent documents and should not be used to accommodate information that is essential to the text, additional references, or tables and figures in excess of the number allowed for the article type.
  • For information that is already available online, provide a URL instead of an appendix.
  • PCD technical editors will make the final decision on whether to include supplementary items at the time of publication. Final acceptance of a manuscript for publication does not guarantee publication of the accompanying appendices and other supplemental files.
  • Appendices and supplemental files are subject to editing by PCD editors.

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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. Indicate footnotes in tables 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.

Page last reviewed: March 30, 2020