Best Practices

Here are a variety of guidelines for editing articles conforming to CS style. Some guidelines are specific to particular magazines.


Print abstracts (the short abstracts that appear at the article's beginning) should be 50 words max for Computer Graphics and Applications, 80 to 100 words for Internet Computing (50 words for department articles), 25 words max for Intelligent Systems and Software, 35 words max for Pervasive Computing, and 35 to 40 words max for Security & Privacy.

Article titles

Capitalize both parts of a hyphenated compound unless the first part is a prefix; in that case, capitalize only the prefix.


For figure callouts, use "(see Figure X)" if the sentence doesn't already mention the figure. The callout normally shouldn't give the page number.

For figure captions, the preferred style is to use a phrase to describe the figure and a sentence (or more) to describe the figure's significance. For example, "Figure 1. Blue marshmallows. The campers mix blue dye with sugar and the mucilaginous root of the marshmallow, thus turning a pink-flowered European perennial herb into a tasty campfire treat."

For abbreviations in captions, spell them out in the first caption in which they appear (with the abbreviation in parentheses immediately following the related term). Later captions can use just the abbreviation.

To acknowledge outside sources of figures, use this style: "(Source: NameOfSource; used with permission.)"

For program code examples that are part of a figure, input the code into the Word file (and tag it properly) if at all possible. Don't send the code to the layout artist for input.

File and folder conventions—optional mags

Here are examples of the optional magazines' file name format, using the May/June Computer Graphics and Applications Harel article as an example:

• (original file that the author sent)
•    g3har.tag.doc (original tagged but unedited file)
•    g3har.dt.doc (1st edit by Dennis Taylor)
•    g3har.dt-bb.doc (2nd read by Brian Brannon. This version usually replaces the previous one.)
• (version sent to author)
• (version with author corrections)
•    g3har.fin.doc (version ready for layout)

Here are the guidelines for naming electronic folders, with examples.

•    First theme: a1-Harel
•    Second theme: a2-Jones
•    Third theme: a3-Smith
•    Nontheme: b-Harris
•    Column: c-Opinions
•    Department: d-Projects
•    Track: t-Virtualization

The electronic folder should contain the current version of the article, figures, and author photos (when necessary), and a Versions folder that holds all the other files. When the layout is ready, move the most recent MS Word file to the Versions folder. You don't need to clean out the folders before they're archived.

For the hard-copy folders, you don't need to keep the materials in any specific order (although some kind of order would be nice), and you don't need to remove anything before the folders are archived.

Main text

Introductions should be three paragraphs, although a little longer is okay if necessary.

In the optional magazines, use title caps on first- and second-level headings. In Computer, first-level headings use all caps, and second-level headings use just an initial cap.

On multiline headings, try to make the lower lines the longer ones.

Don't indent the paragraph immediately following a first- or second-level heading.

When first referring to a group of more than two authors, use this style: "Jane Doe and her colleagues." For two authors, give their first and last names.

When referring to a specific table or figure in the text, use capitalization: Figure 3, Table 2, and so on.

Avoid having a line with a drop cap on the last line of a column.

Use the appropriate punctuation at the end of a display equation.

When referring to a numbered and displayed item in an article, use an initial capital letter (Figure 1, Table 2, Equation 3, Algorithm 4, …). Otherwise, for nouns accompanied by numbers or letters, don't capitalize the noun (level 5, participant B, step 1, and so on) unless it's a proper noun or it's from a specification or standard.

For names of software patterns, use an initial capital letter and no special formatting.

Use a drop cap, not a heading, to start the conclusion.


For sidebar titles, use normal title capitalization.

For titles of related-work sidebars, use "Related Work in …," not "Related Work on …."


We no longer use the TABLE ROWz tag.

When referring to table columns or rows in the main text, normally use quotation marks and no capital letters ("In the ‘total characters' column, …").


If you have to put a URL in parentheses after an acronym, use a semicolon to separate the two.

Don't use "http://" in URLs that start with www (unless the author is Tim Berners-Lee and he complains).