Beyond the Research:

How Concerned Should Authors Be With Formatting, Style, and Accessibility?

By Mikaela Felty on May 29, 2024
Formatting When preparing a manuscript for publication, it is important that authors pay special attention not only to showcasing their research but also to formatting, citations, and accessibility. According to a 2019 study, authors will typically spend 14 hours just formatting their manuscripts (LeBlanc, 2019). Generally, authors shouldn’t worry so much about formatting and layout, as most of the formatting and layout will be stripped from the document. What is typically needed from the authors formatting-wise is just enough for the publisher to tag the text when the conversion is performed.
Of course, formatting and research aren’t the only things authors deal with when submitting their manuscript for publication. Style and accessibility remain very important aspects to be aware of. All publishers will have different style guidelines and virtually no one will use a style (APA, MLA, Chicago) without changes. It is important that these guidelines are closely followed. Depending on the publisher, not following the publisher’s guidelines can result in immediate rejection of the work. If the work isn’t outright rejected, it shows carelessness on the author’s part at best or a disregard for the publisher and publication at worst; neither of which an author wanting to be published or published again would want as a label.
With the surge in ensuring that research is accessible, many publishers are also looking at strategies to make published work available to those with disabilities such as vision impairment. While many publishers do not typically have strict accessibility guidelines, it is still important to remain cognizant of the ways in which a manuscript can be made available to all.
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Formatting Essentials
While IGI Global expects very little of its authors when it comes to formatting, it is important to follow some formatting guidelines when submitting a manuscript so that the process can be made efficient, quick, and convenient for everyone involved—including both the authorship of the manuscript and the publisher. IGI Global offers easy-to-follow templates and guides to assist in correctly styling your chapter, article, encyclopedia entry, or case chapter:
Note: The Manuscript Organization and Formatting Template is designed for the purpose of standardizing manuscript submissions and does not reflect how your work will actually appear in print. Format and design of the final publication are at the sole discretion of the publisher.
Heading names within the body of your text may be tailored to the content of the work. Remember also that headings and subheadings should not be numbered. They must also be formatted correctly according to the guidelines:
  • Heading 1s: Bold, ALL UPPERCASE.
  • Heading 2s: Bold, Title Case.
  • Heading 3s: Italics, Title Case.
Any text in paragraphs that must be bold, italic, or underlined should be done so correctly prior to submission. Authors should also ensure that block quotes are in italics.
Figure and Table Captions
Figure captions must be in the text approximately where the figures should appear. Figure captions should appear between body paragraphs—never in the middle of a single paragraph.
Table captions follow the same rules as figure captions. The tables themselves should be built in Microsoft Word using the table tools. Data should be separated into rows, columns, and cells. Never use spaces, tabs, etc. to separate data.
Authors should not worry about placing multiple returns between paragraphs. They should never use tables to format text into columns, indent paragraphs, or make other layout considerations. It unnecessarily takes up the authors’ time as it will either be stripped out of the document and/or cause complications with final production.
Bulleted lists should use a closed bullet, open bullet, and square bullet:
  • List Level 1
    • List Level 2
      • List Level 3
Numbered lists should use Arabic, letter, and lowercase Roman:
  1. List Level 1
    1. List Level 2
      1. List Level 3
Additionally, it is typically problematic for authors to use wingdings or symbol font for bullets, as they do not usually carry through correctly during the production process.
Styling and Citations
IGI Global uses APA, 7th edition in combination with the IGI Global house style. As a full member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), IGI Global understands and highlights the importance of in-text citations so that all contributors are following the highest ethical standards.
When using the APA format, it is important to follow the author-date method of an in-text citation; for example, (Jones, 1998).
Note: In-text citations may NOT be indicated by bracketed numbers. If your in-text citations do not follow the author-date method, please correct them prior to submission.
The following are a couple of key requirements to note before the submission of any manuscript:
  • Non-English references must have an English translation
  • In-text citations must be in APA 7 format
  • Bracketed references are not usable
To learn more about our citation requirements, please visit our APA Citation Guidelines.
Formatting Accessibility is essential to keep in mind when both writing and formatting your manuscript. Publishing a manuscript with accessibility in mind is beneficial for everyone involved; your manuscript may be more widely used, and a greater audience is given the ability to use your work effectively.
An aspect of this is knowing your audience. Depending on your audience, you may need to keep language in mind and change a 10-cent word to a 5-cent or simplify sentence structure. Knowing one’s audience is essential to know what needs to be explained and what doesn’t need to be explained.
Accessibility influences more than just language; it can be an important decision that one makes during formatting or even the inclusion of different aspects in the manuscript such as alt text for tables and figures. Much of the required formatting is beneficial to those who use screen readers. Therefore, using the wrong kinds of headings can make the manuscript unnavigable, placing unnecessary paragraph spacing or tabs can interfere with the flow of the screen reader, and placing figures in the middle of paragraphs can cause your manuscript to appear disjointed.
Further, alt text for figures should “both describe the image audibly for anyone using a screen reader, and also replaces the figure for a sighted reader if the actual image fails to load” (Dames, 2022). In this way, making the decision to add accessibility to your manuscript is not only beneficial to those using screen readers but also ensures that your content is understood in all circumstances.
Researchers can put these techniques to use by submitting a chapter to a book, article to a journal, or publishing an authored book with IGI Global. Please visit the Publications Seeking Submissions page to find a relevant book or journal to submit work to or submit a book proposal form to start a new project. IGI Global staff are happy to assist prospective authors with resources to ensure that submission guidelines are followed, and their research can move quickly to print upon acceptance. Questions may be directed to the Acquisitions Team at
Works Cited
Dames J. An Incomplete Guide to Creating Accessible Content. In: Journal Article Tag Suite Conference (JATS-Con) Proceedings 2022 [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Center for Biotechnology Information (US); 2022. Available from:
LeBlanc AG, Barnes JD, Saunders TJ, Tremblay MS, Chaput J-P (2019) Scientific sinkhole: The pernicious price of formatting. PLoS ONE 14(9): e0223116.
About IGI Global

Founded in 1988 and headquartered in Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA with a subsidiary office (IGI Science and Technology, Ltd.), operating out of Beijing, China, IGI Global is a leading medium-sized independent academic publisher of international scientific research. They are committed to facilitating the discovery of pioneering research that enhances and expands the body of knowledge available to the research community through traditional and open access publishing workflows. Working in close collaboration with expert researchers and professionals from leading institutions, IGI Global publishes quality peer-reviewed content across 350+ topics in 11 core subject areas, including business, computer science, education, engineering, healthcare, social sciences, and more. With over 150,000+ industry-leading researchers and experts worldwide contributing to IGI Global’s publications, they ensure that each contains the most emerging and timeliest research. Learn more about IGI Global here.

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