NIH Record Style Guidelines
Below are a few suggestions to make submitting material easier and quicker. The list doesn’t include everything, so please feel free to call or email us with specific questions.
In general, feature stories are about 500 words; shorter articles, and especially photos/captions, are always welcome. For longer pieces, please consult the editors beforehand.
Our convention is to name the people in photographs from left to right, which we abbreviate “(from l).” We prefer not to include within captions people who are not shown, but sometimes it is necessary.
We prefer color digital images in jpg or tif form, and in high-resolution (minimum of 300 dots per inch).
We are happy to credit photos if you supply us with the name of the photographer. Note that we cannot offer copyright protection on any photos, since all our published work is in the public domain. If there are copyright restrictions on an image, we cannot use it.
Record deadlines are 2 weeks before publication date. Past-due submissions stand a greater chance of appearing if they are very brief.
We make every effort to publish submissions in a timely way. Date-sensitive material gets priority, however. For example, an upcoming meeting announcement will get into an issue ahead of an appointment story—even if the appointment article came to us earlier than the meeting announcement.
All items should be reviewed before they are submitted to us. If you quote someone, please run the article by the person for their okay before sending the item for publication.
The less formatting (bold type, italics, decorative fonts & bullets, columns, etc.) you submit within a document the better for us. In general, a simple Word document is best.
We try to acknowledge story authors in one of two styles: Bylines beneath the headline, for stories we think show significant enterprise on the part of the writer (appropriate research, gathering of quotes and unique effort to engage the reader, for example). Tag lines (author’s name at story’s end), for shorter items that seem less labor-intensive. Please remember to include author’s name on all submissions. Also indicate instances when no attribution should be used (in other words, group efforts or stories written by committee).
All stories submitted to the Record should include a recommended headline. It should be brief, catchy and should summarize the story. Often, a “kicker” or companion headline that runs atop the main headline, can offer a one-two punch that grabs the reader.
We use italic typeface for words in foreign languages (e.g., summa cum laude, or ad hoc) and for the titles of books, publications, television shows, movies, plays, song titles and other forms of entertainment. We also use italics occasionally for emphasis within a sentence.
We don’t hyphenate the words email or online.
We always refer to NIH buildings as Bldg. rather than the full word.
We do not use trademark or copyright symbols.
When referring to academic degrees, we use periods, so that it is B.A., M.D. and Ph.D. rather than BA, MD or PhD.
We use postal code abbreviations for states in addresses only (as in an obituary when a memorial gift is directed to a specific street address); otherwise we use AP abbreviations — Massachusetts is Mass., California is Calif., etc.
We do not use the serial comma and remove it when it precedes the last item in a series. For example, “He was a scientist, writer, and musician” is “He was a scientist, writer and musician” in Record style.
The Record tries to avoid “alphabet soup.” Paragraphs filled with acronyms and initials impede readers; so does excessive capitalization. In general, for NIH, caps are appropriate at branch level and above (but not for sections, units, groups, task forces, interest groups or committees). Outside of NIH, for universities, medical centers and colleges, we don’t use caps for divisions, departments or other subgroups — same with state offices and departments. We use acronyms to economize, instead of spelling out IC titles. In other cases, we avoid them if there is no second reference within the story.
The Record refers to both M.D.s and Ph.D.s as “Dr.” on first reference, and thereafter uses the last name only. The title “Dr.” also means that any accompanying title that precedes it is lower-case, for example: NIH director Dr. Jane Smith, or NIH deputy director for extramural research Dr. John Doe.
For non-doctors, if the job title precedes the person’s name, upper case is used (e.g., NIH Deputy Director for Management Joe Smith). However if the title comes after the name, lower case is indicated (Joe Smith, NIH deputy director for management).