Style Guide for Writers

1. Clarity. Ensure unambiguous and clear content. Always choose facts over sensationalism, if you are unable to confirm the source, then err on the side of caution and do not present it at all.

2. Style: We publish articles for the general public, not only the medical and scientific community, and therefore encourage an engaging story-telling style. Try to:

  • Reduce (or better yet, avoid!) repetitive phrases such as “this study showed” or “the results showed” as these are phrases more suitable for journal publications and not articles for easy reading. Instead, include phrases that are more engaging such as “Despite data that suggests”, “Interestingly”, “Unexpectedly” and “While the team believed that” and so on.
  • Avoid absolutes or conclusive statements such as ‘this treatment will cure cancer’, and instead choose more neutral statements such as ‘it is likely’, ‘probably’, ‘may’ or ‘perhaps’.
  • Write shorter sentences are these easier for readers to digest.
  • Include paragraph breaks often to avoid big chunks of hard-to-read text. It is easier to scan an article that has shorter sentences that are broken up by appropriate paragraphing.

3. Unbiased and apolitical tone: Try to maintain a detached, unbiased style. Prop up your claims such as ‘top university’ with real facts. If it is a commonly held belief (check that it really is so), mention that it is ‘commonly thought’, do not just describe it as so without any basis.

4. Quality over quantity: Shorter, to the point and engaging articles will always be preferred over long-winded, overly-factual (to the point of not being necessary for reader’s understanding) articles. If needed, include references for further information for interested readers. Also check for grammar, stylistic, typographical and spelling errors.

5. No jargon: Though we are a science-focused magazine, we wish to reach out to readers from all walks of life, not just those with a technical science background. Those readers who would understand jargon would easily know how to source the original publication and read it for more information if they wish to. So simplify your words so that everyone may understand it easily.

6. British spelling: Malaysia uses British English due to historical reasons. We request that you spell check using British English setting and consciously be aware of spelling differences (e.g. color (American) versus colour (British), recognized (American) versus recognised (British).

7. Headlines and titles: We aim to attract reader interest with our titles. Shorter, snappier titles that still convey the point in a clear, concise and attractive way are preferred. If necessary, editors will correct your title to reflect this. In addition, make sure to include necessary details such as the country, person or subject of the article or interview.

8. Consistency: Be mindful of consistency of words and names within your article. Also, be mindful of the following:

  • Abbreviations and acronyms: We use BSc, BA, MA, PhD, Dr. and Prof. to abbreviate Bachelor of Science/Arts Degree, Master’s Degree, Postdoctoral Degree, Doctor and Professor. Spell out the first mention of a word with its abbreviation in brackets, then subsequently you may refer to it using only the capitalised abbreviation, such as deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).
  • Titles and Names with initials: We use initials thus: E. B. White (with space between period and next initial.
  • Numbers and percentages: Spell numbers 1-10, then use numbers for higher digits (include commas when necessary such as 10,000 rather than 10000). Spell the number if it is the first word in a sentence. Spell ‘percent’ out too, rather than use ‘%’, unless writing for a short infobox or column within an article where space is scarce.
  • Hyphen, Em dash and En dash:
    • hyphen (-) is used to form compound words such as mother-in-law, or good-hearted.
    • Em dash (—) is used to set up information that is explanatory or of particular emphasis and can be in the middle or at the end of a sentence.
    • En dash ( – ) If you can replace the En dash with the word ‘to’ then you can use it to represent information. E.g.: “…from 23-48 bp.”

9. Referencing: References in the main text should be cited in numbered square brackets, such as [1], [2], [3-5]. Full references should be included at the end of the article in the following format:

[1] Feinman, L.  (1989). Absorption and utilization of nutrients in alcoholism. Alcohol Health & Research World., 13(3):207-210.