Text Requirements and Guidelines

Preparing your paper as outlined below will help expedite consideration.

AGU journals consider a number of different papers types. Each of these has different length limits or guidelines.

Length: For most journals, Research Articles are allowed to be up to 25 publication units (PU), where 1 PU is 500 words or 1 display element (figure or table). The title, authors, affiliations, text in tables (but not captions) and references are excluded from word counts.  Longer papers are assessed an excess length fee.  Research Letters for Geophysical Research Letters have a maximum length of 12 publication units. Longer papers are not considered in GRL and will be returned for shortening.  For most journals, Commentaries are limited to 6 publication units (recommended length is about 2000 words and 1-2 figures).

In submitting, the corresponding author affirms that:

  • All authors have read and approved the paper and will be informed about all reviews and revisions. It is expected that authors will have: (1) made substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data, or creation of new software used in the work; or have drafted the work or substantively revised it; (2) approved the submitted version (and any substantially modified version that involves the author’s contribution to the study); and (3) agreed to be personally accountable for their own contributions and for ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work, even ones in which the author was not personally involved, are appropriately investigated, resolved, and documented in the literature. AGU will notify each co-author about a submission and all revisions.
  • All author affiliations related to the work are indicated.
  • Any real or perceived conflicts of interest related to this work are declared to the editors in the cover letter
  • Data and data products related to the paper will be available upon publication in a repository practicing the FAIR principles. AGU journals follow the guidelines for Enabling FAIR data.
  • The paper is an original submission and not under active consideration elsewhere. All papers are checked for plagiarism. Papers with significant overlap will be rejected or returned for correction.


Please prepare your manuscript following our checklists and templates.


For LaTeX, use the AGU template. AGU LaTeX templates are also on Overleaf, a cloud-based LaTeX authoring system that allows direct submission to AGU journals. Please DO NOT introduce any extraneous formatting, new commands, macros, or shortcuts, as they are not compatible with our publishing process. Papers with extensive extraneous formatting, macros, or shortcuts (including \def,\newcommands, \renewcommands, and especially those commands with #) will be returned 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 on the progress of related papers, 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 will not publish manuscripts with any references that are not yet published. If the citation of such manuscripts is approved by the editor, AGU will hold final publication until the cited literature is accepted and publicly available.


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, and build upon the reported research be available at the time of publication. AGU journals follow the guidelines for enabling FAIR data and AGU is a signatory of the Commitment Statement on open and FAIR data.

This policy applies to the data, derived data and data products typically deposited in community repositories for that discipline and presented in the figures and analyses in the paper, and software or other methods used to generate, interpret, or process the data. If the methods and data are previously published, these can be cited. Large data sets and newly compiled data sets should be deposited in repositories that practice the FAIR principles prior to publication. Deposited data sets should be cited as full references in the reference list.  Specifically:

All publishers who are signatories of the Enabling FAIR Data Commitment Statement support trusted repositories that curate research data, software, and physical samples for use by the scientific community. Authors should follow the guidelines below and in this FAQ:

  1. Deposit research data in a FAIR-aligned repository, with a preference for those that explicitly follow the FAIR Data Principles and demonstrate compliance with international standards for data repositories, (e.g. CoreTrustSeal). Supplements to articles should not be used as an archive for data. For assistance, including in finding a repository, see the FAQ’s.
  2. Cite and link to the data in the article, following the Joint Declaration of Data Citation Principles and ESIP Guidelines, using the unique, resolvable, and persistent identifiers provided by the repository in which the data are archived. In particular:
    • Citations should appear in the body of the article with a corresponding reference in the reference list.
    • Citations should include persistent identifiers in well-formed references to data and software allowing that information to be tracked in global information systems for impact, integrity, and innovation (see Scholix).
    • Citations should include software used in the research following the FORCE11 Software Citation Principles, which recommends a similar depositing of the software in an archival repository, and citation/references that include the persistent identifiers provided by the repository.
  3. Include a Data Availability Statement describing how the data underlying the findings of their article can be accessed and reused.
    • In special cases, where data access is restricted, authors are required to mention these restrictions in the Data Availability Statement provided with the article. Such restrictions might be determined by applicable laws, university and research institution policies, funder terms, privacy, intellectual property and licensing agreements, and the ethical context of your research.
    • If the data cannot be made open, it should still be preserved in a FAIR-compliant repository with appropriate access and controls in place. Repositories that provide appropriate access controls can be found here.
  4. Provide unrestricted access to all data and materials underlying reported findings for which ethical or legal constraints do not apply. These restrictions can include:
    • Data Disclosure Risks. If there are possible data disclosure risks (the data pose privacy, confidentiality, or legal concerns, e.g., where data might reveal the identity or location of participants), the authors must specify that data are available on request in the Data Availability Statement and identify the group to which requests should be submitted. The reasons for restrictions on public data deposition must also be specified. Note that it is not acceptable for the authors to be the sole named individuals responsible for ensuring data access.
    • Data made available by a third party that is not located in a FAIR-aligned repository and without a persistent identifier. We consider third-party data to be data that cannot be legally distributed by the authors. Authors should share any data specific to their analysis that they can legally distribute. If an author does not have the rights to distribute the data, they must include all necessary contact information in the Data Availability Statement to gain access to the relevant data. If permission is required to use a third-party data set, authors must include the third-party source and verification of permission in the Data Availability Statement, as well as provide proper acknowledgment in the article. Authors are asked to submit information from the data owner that data will be available post-publication, in the same manner as that by which the authors obtained the data


In order for reviewers and readers to assess any paper fully at the time of publication, AGU does not accept citations to in-preparation or submitted/under review-manuscripts. The Editorial Board can, in exceptional circumstances, allow citation of submitted/under review works which are intimately associated with the manuscript submitted to this or other AGU journals. An example would be a companion manuscript submitted to this or another AGU journal where the intent is to have them published together so that cross-citations can be fully updated before publication. Authors willing to cite submitted/under review works must, at submission time, (1) upload a PDF copy of the unpublished work(s), and (2) use the ‘cover letter’ field to justify to the editor why an ‘under review’ reference is required. In the event an exception is granted, the submitted/under review work(s) will have to be accepted or published in its respective journal(s) by the time of acceptance of this manuscript.


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.

Your manuscript should be arranged in the following order:

  1. Title page including authors’ names and affiliations
  2. Key Points
  3. Abstract and Plain Language Summary (required for some journals; see below)
  4. Keywords
  5. Text (including appendices) and Equations
  6. Acknowledgments and Data Statement
  7. References
  8. Tables
  9. Figures
  10. Supporting information (e.g., data sets, long tables, graphs)

Title Page

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

Authors are individuals who have significantly contributed to the research and preparation of the article (see specific guidelines above). Group authors are allowed, if each author in the group is separately identified in an appendix or supplement. Other contributors who do not meet the authorship criteria should be acknowledged.

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 should 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 now requires all corresponding authors to register for an ORCID identifier and connect it to your account in our editorial system. We strongly encourage all authors and reviewers to register for an ORCID. 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 and in an Eos article on identifiers.

AGU Journals allow authors to indicate their respective contributions using the CRediT taxonomy. This information will be published with your paper starting in 2018.  If a more specific contribution statement is needed, please add a paragraph as part of the acknowledgements.

Key Points

Key Points convey the main points and conclusions of the article. Up to three key point statements are allowed, and each is limited to at most 140 characters with no abbreviations


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.
  • avoid reference citations unless dependent on or directly related to another paper (e.g., companion, comment, reply, or commentary on another paper(s)).  See AGU’s Style Guide on formatting citations in abstracts.
  • define all abbreviations.

Plain Language Summary

AGU journal articles can now include a plain-language summary that will help the general reader understand your paper.  This is required for GRL, JGR: Planets, JGR: Biogeosciences, JGR: Oceans, G-Cubed, Reviews of Geophysics, and JAMES; optional for other journals. It is optional for other journals and can be added at revision.   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.

Index Terms and Keywords

Index terms are important for discovery and linking your article. Up to five index terms are allowed and are  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.


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.  Footnotes are used only for author affiliations and tables.  Incorporate all other footnoted information into text.

Reference citations. Use name-date format, not numbered references, and enclose citations in parentheses.

(Zhu et al., 2016) or

Zhu et al. (2009)

Detailed citation style can be found in AGU’s Style Guide.

Mathematics. Build equations with Mathtype or the Word Equation Editor (if using Word), or in Latex. Do not use graphics for equations.

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. Funding information should include the funding body and contribution number.
  • 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. Further explanations for the editors of conflicts of interests, data, or funding information should be included in the cover letter.
  • A statement that indicates to the reader where the data supporting the conclusions can be obtained (for example, the name of a FAIR-aligned repository). For more information: Enabling FAIR data guidelines
  • The acknowledgments are also the appropriate place to thank colleagues and other contributors. AGU does not normally allow dedications. Do not include honorifics such as Dr etc.; include first name or initial and last name. Further explanations for the editors of conflicts of interests, data, or funding information should be included in the cover letter
  • An optional separate paragraph indicating author contributions beyond that identified in the CRediT


All sources cited in text, tables, figures, and supporting information must appear in the reference list.  References in supporting information should also be cited in the main text and included in the reference list of the main paper so that they will be discovered, linked, and indexed. A separate reference list in the supporting information is not necessary. Every reference must be available publicly online or in print before a paper can be accepted.  Thus “unpublished” or “in press” references are not allowed (see “References Availability” section above for more information). Reference text is not included in excess length calculations.

AGU follows the Joint Declaration of Data Citations Principles and the Enabling FAIR data guidelines. Authors should cite data and software in the reference section of their manuscript. Authors should strive to archive their data in repositories practicing the FAIR principles. These data sets should be cited as all other references in the text and reference list as appropriate.

For examples and AGU style information, please see here.


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. Explanatory information and definitions should be included in a footnote to the title.

Column heads. All columns (except the first one) must have headings.

Additional information on table formatting is available here.


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 resubmission or revision (because separate files are needed for production). For revision, each figure file must be complete and contain all parts of a single numbered figure. Do not include figure captions or figure titles (e.g., “Figure 1”) as any part of the figure. Separate files for different parts of a figure cannot be accommodated.

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

  • Indicate latitude and longitude on maps.
  • Use lowercase letters (a, b,c…) to label parts of the figure; do not use Arabic or roman numerals. Combine all figure parts into a single figure.
  • When possible, include the figure label in the top left corner of each plot.
  • Do not include information in a figure that could easily be included in the caption.
  • 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).

Figures larger than a typical PDF page (e.g., a large map) should be included as a supplement.

Copyrighted Material

Authors who use figures or other material (e.g., graphics,) from another author or copyright holder must obtain 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.

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

Supporting Information

Supporting text and images/figures should be included in one .PDF file, except where limited by file type or size. Movies, .zip archives, and other files can be uploaded separately. Authors should download and make use of our templates. Supporting text can include methods or other information about samples or summary data. Discussion or interpretations should be in the main text only.

All supporting information will be reviewed with your manuscript. References cited in supporting information must also be included in the main text 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.

Please see Supporting Information Guidelines for more information.

Supporting Information should not include discussion or key analysis.