I will soon submit a paper to PRL. In the main text, I refer in many places to the supplemental material, which is divided in 3 parts. Let's say that at page 2 of the main I show a result, and I refer to the 1st section of the supplemental material, at page 3 to the 2nd, and at page 4 to the 3rd.

Should I write in this case something like: "See supplemental material part 1", "See supplemental material part 2", etc or just "See supplemental material" each time, and leaving the reader to figure out where to look?

2 Answers 2


Supplemental material should generally be organized and referred to just as tightly as the main material: you should think of it as one big document which just happens to be divided into two files.

As such, you should provide explicit, well-localized references to each element you refer to in the supplemental, just like you would in the main text, e.g., "Supplementary Figure 3", "Supplementary Section 6."

Note also that if you adopt this sort of tight "one document" formatting, you are not necessarily using any more words than "See Supplementary Material".

Some examples of articles using this format:

  • can you provide an example of a paper (in PRL or even in another field) which use this reference form?
    – sintetico
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 22:23
  • @sintetico I don't know PRL well myself, but I've added some other examples of recent publications in fields that use this convention.
    – jakebeal
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 3:10

It's generally best to avoid making readers figure out anything. I'd write "See supplemental material, part 1" or "See Part 1 of the supplemental material". I can't think of any reason not to, unless perhaps you are extremely close to a page limit.

  • yes, the concern is length limit. sorry I haven't stress that in the question
    – sintetico
    Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 21:43

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