Text Requirements and Guidelines

Preparing your paper as outlined below will help expedite consideration.

AGU journals consider a number of different papers types.  Recommended lengths are based on the number of words and display elements.  For most journals, Research Articles are allowed to be up to 25 publication units, where a publication unit is 500 words or 1 display element (figure or table), excluding title, authors, affiliations, and references.  Longer papers are assessed an excess length fee.  Research Letters (for Geophysical Research Letters) have a length of up to 12 publication units.

For submission, we prefer to receive a single file containing your manuscript, figures, and tables. Checklists and templates in Word and LaTeX are available here.  Supporting information and large tables should be uploaded separately.


MS Word LaTeX
Format  .docx is preferred, but .doc is acceptable. Use AGU Template.
Font/type 12-pt Times New Roman
Language U.S. English
Paragraphs Indent or space between them
Footnotes Only use in tables and for affiliations. Incorporate potential footnotes into main text, if needed.
Units of measure and chemical elements Do not use italic font for units of measure or chemical elements.
Math, both inline and full equations Use MathType or the MS Word equation editor to produce editable equations.  Do not paste in graphics.  Avoid special style macros
Figures For first submission, include figures inline in the text.  For revision, upload each figure (not parts) separately. Multi-part figures must be combined into one file.
Figures captions Include with figures in submission; include at end of text at revision.



For LaTeX, use the AGU template. AGU LaTeX templates are also on Overleaf, a cloud-based LaTeX authoring system. Please DO NOT introduce any extraneous formatting, new commands, macros, or shortcuts, as they are not compatible with the publishing process. Because of this, regrettably, submitted papers with extensive extraneous formatting, macros, or shortcuts (including \def,\newcommands, \renewcommands, and especially those commands with #) will be sent back to the author for correction.


AGU will consider papers that are companions or so related that publication and citation should be coordinated.  AGU can work with other journals to coordinate publication.  If you are submitting companion papers, please indicate this and any information regarding coordination in your cover letter and provide copies of all papers as part of your submission if they are not being submitted to the same journal.  Please provide regular updates to the editors of the progress of related papers, and especially at revision.  If there are multiple companions, we strongly recommend that you contact our staff and the journal editors in advance.

Other papers under consideration elsewhere and related to your AGU submission should also be included for the editors and the relation explained in the cover letter.


AGU recommends use of IGSNs (International Geo Sample Numbers) for all samples reported in AGU Journals. IGSNs provide a unique identifier allowing samples to be linked across publications and searched through a central repository. We strongly encourage authors to register samples and obtain IGSNs and use them throughout their manuscript and tables. We recognize IGSNs during our production process and will provide links in manuscript tables to the registered sample descriptions.


AGU requires that all data needed to understand, evaluate, replicate, and build upon the reported research be available at the time of publication.  Usually these data would be the final derived data typically deposited in community repositories and software or other methods used to generate or process the data. Large data sets should be deposited in these domain repositories prior to publication. If a domain repository is not available, general repositories such as Dryad can be used. An index of some recommended repositories is here. All such data sets should be cited in the reference list.  Small data sets and derived data summaries can be included in tables in the paper or in the supporting information.

AGU is also a signatory of the Coalition on Publishing Data in the Earth and Space Sciences (COPDESS) and the Transparency and Openness Guidelines.  A more thorough description of AGU’s Data Policy is here.


Your manuscript should be arranged in the following order:

  1. Title page including authors’ names and affiliations
  2. Key Points
  3. Abstract
  4. Index Terms and Keywords
  5. Text (including appendices)
  6. Acknowledgments and Data
  7. References
  8. Tables
  9. Figures
  10. Copyrighted material permission
  11. Supporting information (e.g., data sets, long tables, graphs).

  1. Title/Authors

Title. A title should be specific, informative, and brief. Use abbreviations only if they are defined in the abstract.

Authors. Authors are individuals who have significantly contributed to the research and preparation of the article; all coauthors share responsibility for submitted articles. List each author name separately.  Group authors are allowed, if each author in the group is separately identified in an appendix. Other contributors who do not meet the authorship criteria should be acknowledged in the acknowledgments.

Author affiliations should indicate to the reader where the author was employed or affiliated with at the time of the work.  Current addresses or affiliations can be indicated with a footnote.  Authors are expected to indicate in the acknowledgements and cover letter any additional affiliations or employment that might be perceived as a conflict of interest related to the paper.

AGU encourages all authors and reviewers to register for an ORCID identifier (http://orcid.org/register) and connect it to your account in our editorial system.  We now require an ORCID for all corresponding authors (https://orcid.org/content/requiring-orcid-publication-workflows-open-letter) and strongly encourage it for all authors.  Your ORCID identifier will be included in your published manuscript, and we will in turn update your publication list in your ORCID record.  (Please look for an email message from ORCID and CrossRef to grant permission for this update process). Including your ORCID identifier helps ensure you get credit for your work, improves integrity in publishing, and enables discovery and linking of your publications, datasets, and more.

Further information on ORCID is available here: https://orcid.org/content/initiative and in an Eos article on identifiers.

  1. Key Points

Key Points convey the main points and conclusions of the article. Up to three key point statements are allowed, and each must be 140 characters or less with no punctuation. All characters in key points must be from the main ASCII table, not the extended ASCII table. At least one key point is required per article.

  1. Abstract

The abstract (1) states the nature of the investigation and (2) summarizes the important conclusions. The abstract should be suitable for indexing. Your abstract should:

  • be set as a single paragraph.
  • be less than 250 words for all journals except GRL, for which the limit is 150 words.
  • not include table or figure mentions.
  • not include reference citations.
  • define all abbreviations.

AGU journals now include an option for a plain-language summary that will help the general reader understand your paper.  This is optional and can be added at revision.  The plain-language summary will be published with your paper. The plain language summary should be written for a broad audience. It should be free of jargon, acronyms, equations and any technical information that would be unknown to the general public. The purpose is to explain the study to the public. A good summary should state the general problem, what was done, and the result. Suggestions for writing a plain-language summary are here.

  1. Index Terms and Keywords

Index terms are important for discovery and linking your article. Up to five index terms are allowed and should be provided at the time of submission. Use the AGU Index Set. Do not use terms ending in “00.”

Authors may also provide up to six keywords. These are free-form terms that can be used to facilitate online searches.

  1. Text

Headings. Except for short manuscripts (such as comments and replies), the text should be divided into sections, each with its own heading.

Sections are numbered with Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.). A maximum of four levels of heads may be used, with subsections numbered 1.1., 1.2.; 1.1.1., 1.2.1;, and so on. Headings should be sentence fragments and do not begin with a lowercase letter or number. They should not include parenthetical reference citations or table and figure callouts.

Footnotes. Incorporate footnoted information into text; footnotes are used only for affiliations, tables, and supporting information.

Reference citations. Use name-date format, not numbered references, and enclose citations in brackets with authors in italics.

[Smith et al., 2009] or

Smith et al. [2009]

Mathematics. If your article contains math, pay particular attention to breaks in the displayed equations. AGU encourages authors to use MathType or another equation builder compatible with MathML for ease of editing and production.

  1. Acknowledgments and Data

The acknowledgments must list:

  • All funding sources related to this work from all authors including any source of direct or in-kind support or source of data or samples. Funding information should also be included in the GEMS submission form. We use this information to make your paper available to your funders through CHORUS.
  • Any real or perceived financial conflicts of interests for any author.
  • Other affiliations for any author that may be perceived as creating a conflict of interest with respect to the results of the paper.
  • A statement that indicates to the reader where the data supporting the conclusions can be obtained (for example, in the references, tables, supporting information, and other databases).

It is also the appropriate place to thank colleagues and other contributors. AGU does not normally allow dedications.

A more thorough description of AGU’s Data Policy is here.

Funding information should include the funding body and contribution number.  Do not include honorifics such as Dr., Ms., etc.; include first name or initial and last name. Further explanations for the editors of conflicts of interests, data, or funding information can be included in the cover letter

  1. References

All sources cited in text, tables, and figures must appear in the reference list, and all entries in the reference list must be cited in text. Every reference must be available publicly online or in print before a paper can be accepted; any “unpublished” or “in press” references must be citable and include a DOI. References in supporting information should also be included in the main text and reference list of the main paper so that they will be discovered, linked, and indexed. A separate list in the supporting information is not necessary.  Reference text is not included in excess length calculations. Data sets that are not newly reported as part of this research or new data sets that are in a repository with an identifier should also be cited in the references.

AGU follows the Joint Declaration of Data Citations Principles. Authors should cite data and software in the reference section of their manuscript. Authors should strive to archive their data in established repositories that follow best practices. Citation in a reference section applies to: 1) data and software that are already published, either in a previous paper or from a repository, and used in your manuscript; and 2) data sets or software that are newly generated by you or your co-authors and archived in a repository.

The data citation should adhere to emerging practices and include as much of the following information as possible: Dataset or software authors/producers, release date; title; version; archive/distributor, and the locator/identifier (doi preferred, or URL), and year.  Examples of citations are provided by ESIP.

These data sets should be cited as for all other references in the text and reference list as appropriate.

For examples and AGU style information, please see here.

  1. Tables

Large tables or data sets should be deposited in appropriate domain repositories, other available repositories, or if necessary included as Excel or .csv files in the Supporting Information. Lists of repositories in the Earth and Space Sciences are available at the directory of the Coalition on Publishing Data in the Earth and Space Sciences (COPDESS).   Tables within a manuscript should primarily be summaries of the data or analysis.

Every table must have a unique title. Titles should be clear and concise, and they should not be complete sentences. Explanatory information and definitions should be included in a footnote to the title.

Column heads. All columns (except the first one) must have headings. Column headings must be arranged so that their relation to the data is clear and they refer to column below.

Additional information on table formatting is available here.

  1. Figures

AGU recommends that figures be prepared in one of the following formats: JPG, TIFF, EPS, PS or PDF.  Figures should be embedded in the main manuscript for submission but uploaded separately at revision (as separate files are needed for production). For revision, each figure file must be complete and contain all parts of a single numbered figure.  Separate files for different parts of a figure cannot be accommodated.

Each figure should also have a caption with the figure.  These can be placed near the figure at submission.


  • Indicate latitude and longitude on maps.
  • Use lowercase letters to label parts of the figure; do not use Arabic or roman numerals.
  • When possible, include the figure label in the top left corner of each plot.
  • Do not include any information that could easily be included in the caption.

Numbering. Cite each figure in numerical order in text. Figures in the main body of the text should be numbered consecutively, not by section.

Appendix figures should be numbered separately from the body and should begin with the letter of the appendix (e.g., figure A1 for the first figure in Appendix A).

Foldouts, pocket maps, etc., can be accommodated, but the costs for publishing these special features must be borne by the author. For additional information, contact the appropriate journal team.

  1. Copyrighted Material

Authors who use material (e.g., graphics, tables) from another author or copyright holder must obtain written permission to do so. This includes any figures redrawn but basically unaltered or with only slight modifications. Permission is not needed for material that originated in AGU journals or is in the public domain.

Permission must allow for the distribution of the material in any and all media in current and future formats.

Obtaining permission can be a lengthy process, so please make sure that you have the necessary permissions before you submit your manuscript to AGU.

Written permission(s) should accompany the revised manuscript when submitted. Articles will not be published until permissions are received at AGU.

  1. Supporting Information

Supporting text and images/figures can be included in one .PDF file, except where limited by file type or size. Tables (Excel or .csv files), movies, .zip archives, and other files can be uploaded separately. Authors should download and make use of our templates. Please see Supporting Information Guidelines for more information.

Please note that all supporting information will be peer reviewed with your manuscript.

The purpose of the supporting information is to enable authors to provide and archive supporting information such as data tables, method information, figures, video, or computer software, in digital formats so that other scientists can use it.
References cited in supporting information should also be included in the main text and reference list of the main paper so that they will be discovered, linked, and indexed. A separate list in the supporting information is not necessary.  Reference text does not count toward length limits.

The key criteria are that the data:

  • supplement the main scientific conclusions of the paper but are not essential to the conclusions (with the exception of including data so the experiment can be reproducible);
  • are likely to be usable or used by other scientists working in the field; are described with sufficient precision that other scientists can understand them;

Supplementary text should not include discussion or key analysis.