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Question: since the equation number is mainly a tag for referencing, I usually omit the equation number whenever an equation is not referred throughout the paper. Is this in violation of any standards, in particular those of IEEE transactions?

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since the equation number is mainly a tag for referencing,

In fact, a reviewer or someone else writing another paper might need to refer to any of your equations, even those you don't refer to. Thus, better number all the equations.

The IEEE Editorial Style Manual specifies (p. 16):

Consecutive Numbering: Equations within a paper are numbered consecutively from the beginning of the paper to the end.

Note also that the typesetter would probably put all the numbers anyway.

  • Thank you very much for prompt reply! So is it safe to remove unreferred equation during the final submission... The "Consecutive numbering" in the style manual could also be interpreted as the numbering must be consecutive whenever there is one. – Troy Woo Dec 28 '16 at 9:59
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    @TroyWoo No, it is not safe: someone writing a follow up paper might need to refer to any of your equations. As I said, better numbering all the equations. IEEE would probably number them anyway. – Massimo Ortolano Dec 28 '16 at 10:01
  • In my previous publication, if I were to number all equations, I would have 70+. I ended up with 20 referred equations, and there is no warning from the editorial staff. But I suppose you could never know whether someone else needs to refer to one of those unnumbered equations. I will keep the numbers in the future. Thank you for your kind reply. – Troy Woo Dec 28 '16 at 10:03
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    @TroyWoo Luckily equation numbering is automatically generated by LaTeX (even by MS Word, I think), so having many numbers is really not an issue. Papers with 30-40 equations are quite common, and 70+ is certainly not overwhelming. – Massimo Ortolano Dec 28 '16 at 10:08
  • I completely agree with you. – Troy Woo Dec 28 '16 at 10:19

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