Proofreader's Checklist

Report time at SEP is stressful enough when you are trying to get nice results, let alone worrying about writing style. This page is meant to provide you with guidelines both in writing and proofreading SEP reports.

Most of these guidelines are based on the Instructions to Authors issued by the journal Geophysics.

Please consider these points as you write your papers and edit other people's:

General issues

  • Is this paper a stand-alone work? Should it be a Short Note? Would it be more effective combined with another paper? Authors shouldn't write two papers where one will do.
  • Is this paper too long? Does it contain too many ideas? Is the main point lost in the wordiness? Should it be split into multiple papers?
  • Are the paragraphs well-formed? A paragraph should generally be at least 3 sentences long, but no longer than half a page. Each paragraph should contain only one idea. Make sure you use \par to begin a new paragraph!
  • When writing papers, it sometimes feels like you are saying the same thing over and over again. This is because you do say the same thing, but the tone should vary according to which part you're writing. Think of it this way:
    • Abstract: A summary of the paper.
    • Introduction: Tell them what you are going to tell them and why it is important.
    • Body: Tell them what you did.
    • Conclusions: Tell them what you told them.
  • You can check the spelling in the document by running ispell docname . Note that if you run this on kana, it will tell you to spell Kirchhoff with one h, which is incorrect.

Space issues

  • Minimize white space. The paper should not end with one or two lines on their own page. Shorten a paragraph or make a figure a bit smaller to get those few lines back. Beware of extra space before and after equations and figures.
  • Your paper may have slight differences in spacing when it is included in the report. You can check this by going to the Adm directory in the paper directory and running gmake yourdir.readit .


  • All papers that are not designated as Short Notes should have an abstract.
  • Abstracts should not include figures, equations, or references.
  • An abstract should be a summary of the essential points of the paper (an informative abstract). It should NOT just be a list of the things discussed in the paper (a descriptive abstract).


  • Does it provide the motivation for the paper?
  • Does it present the scope and nature of the problem?
  • Does it review pertinent literature? A rule of thumb is that there should be at least three citations.
  • Does it briefly describe the methodology and results of the paper?


  • This should include complete details on the methodology and a thorough discussion of results. This is where relevant equations should be.
  • Is there too much reproduction of work from another paper? Explanation of relevant previous work is necessary, but should not be excessive. Use references.
  • Are there long derivations? Long but necessary derivations should probably be in an appendix.
  • Is each equation or equation array numbered?


  • Is the figure the correct size to make its point? It should be large enough to be seen but not waste space. If LaTeX insists on putting a non-full-page figure on its own page, it must be tweaked. The plot command used in LaTeX does have an option for placement (top [t] or bottom [b]) on the page: \plot[t]{figname}{size}{caption}.
  • Except when absolutely necessary, set ONLY the height OR the width of the figures. Otherwise the aspect ratio will be skewed.
  • Are the axes/annotation in the figure easy to read? Do the axes include units where appropriate?
  • Are the captions complete and descriptive?
  • There should not be titles on the figures! As a quote from the Geophysics Instructions to Authors states: “The body of illustrations should not contain titles or other textual material that can be placed in the caption.”
  • Is there a reproducibility label for each figure, specifying whether the figure is [ER], [CR], or [NR]?
  • Is the reproducibility claim for the figure accurate? Almost all figures should be either ER (easily reproducible) or CR (conditionally reproducible). You don't have to have all of your makerules working by the report deadline. The reproducibility deadline is always later than the final report deadline.
  • Make sure all of your figures have been built (meaning they exist in the Figure directory) before someone else has to build your paper (ie, when the entire report is built).


  • Check the references for obvious mistakes. See the “Instructions for Authors” section on proper bibliography formatting.
  • You can reference other papers in the current report by using (Ex: Artman.sep.112.brad1).
  • Make sure the references will work in the final report by making yourdir.readit in the Adm directory.


  • Is the appendix actually useful?
  • The appendices go at the very end of the paper, after the references.

sep/internal/writing.txt · Last modified: 2015/05/27 02:06 (external edit)
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