I'm used to publishing in a field where it's normal to submit papers in LaTeX format. The journal has a LaTeX class file. No fuss, no muss. Now I'm submitting a paper to journals in a field where the standard seems to be the following. They want both a Word file and a PDF file submitted, and they want them to follow style guidelines in a certain handbook. These style guidelines are things like using a certain citation style, but they don't deal with things like whether sections have numbers or whether a paper should have an abstract, which I suppose either (a) I'm supposed to do by imitating the journal's papers, or (b) they don't care about and will handle themselves if the paper is accepted.

I can generate a Word file using tools like pandoc and LibreOffice, but I'm a little perplexed by the idea that this is going to work without some conventions or best practices that don't seem to be explicit. Are they really going to pay an office worker to go through the whole document and reformat everything by hand to suit their preferences, or are they just assuming I'm going to do certain things the way they're used to? For example, from what little I recall of using Word 30 years ago, you can either format section headers by choosing a font, size, italics, etc., or you can define a style, which would presumably be a better practice. But this is just one of many styling issues that I would anticipate. There's going to be a style for block quotes, footnotes, the abstract, and so on.

How does this actually work for this type of journal? What do they use the PDF for, and what do they use the Word file for? Which format goes to the referee? Are there hidden conventions or best practices for how to set up the Word file?

  • "...this type of journal..." doesn't really have much meaning. They probably don't collaborate on this.
    – Buffy
    Sep 9, 2022 at 18:46
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    @Buffy: They clearly do have some kind of communal understanding. They all have the same requirements for format (Word+PDF), and they all refer to the same style manual, which is specific to their field.
    – kbD8aE79
    Sep 9, 2022 at 18:53
  • Even if the journal does not provide a LaTeX template on their website, they might still be able to process a submission prepared with LaTeX. Have you asked them? Sep 9, 2022 at 19:26
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    From editorial work I know that guidelines and even LaTeX class files are very often ignored by authors, and quite a bit of work has to be done on the publisher's side anyway. Not sure how much less work they'd have if they'd provide clearer guidelines. Sep 9, 2022 at 21:11

2 Answers 2


It is called typesetting. Almost all books, newspapers, magazines, and journals go through this process. Most writers do not use Latex, and for many kinds of page design Latex would not be suitable. Look at a copy of Nature for example.

Yes, someone will go through the document and fix all the styles. Probably the PDF will be sent to the referees, with a cover page and line numbers added. The Word document might be used by the typesetter to copy and paste the text into some other software.

The main best practice in Word is to use styles for the headings. Follow the style guidelines in the handbook, and for things that are not mentioned (such as whether headings are numbered) copy an article from the journal, and don't worry too much about getting everything exactly right.


Follow their guidelines as stated and don't try to guess about things they don't make explicit. It would probably be more efficient in the long run if you use a similar style to papers they already publish. But you can ask them, in any case.

Few papers are published as first submitted. Someone, you or they, will provide more production ready copy if the paper is accepted. Worry about it when you need to.

The pdfs might be for reviewers and the Word docs for production to "play with". But who can say?


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