Journals Library

Language presentation

Language and presentation


Try to avoid using abbreviations in the title or headings within the report, except for common abbreviations (i.e., AIDS, CPR, CT scan) and RCTs. They may be used in the summary and elsewhere in the paper, but must be defined at their first mention in the abstract, scientific summary and again at their first mention in the main text of the paper. At the front of the report, please provide an alphabetical list of abbreviations used in the text.

Whilst ‘versus’ should be used in the main text, the abbreviation ‘vs.’ can be used in figures, tables, their legends and in parentheses.


Non-possessive for syndromes; possessive for diseases and anything else, e.g. Down syndrome, Addison’s disease (von Willebrand disease OK), Barrett’s oesophagus, Raynaud’s phenomenon.


All cross-references are to be italicised if they are referencing the same report. Chapter and appendix cross-references should always be preceded by ‘see’; figure and table cross-references should be preceded by ‘see’ only if they are not the main citation. Use ‘and’ not a comma when more than one figure or table or parts thereof are cross-referenced.

e.g. see Appendix 1
e.g. see Chapter 1
e.g. see Chapter 4, Decision model
e.g. see Accounting for uncertainty
e.g. see Figures 5 and 6
e.g. see Figure 14 and Table 7
e.g. see Table 11a and b 

However, if a cross-reference is for another report, then it is in lower case and not italicised.

e.g. see table 1 in Myers et al.

Currency conversions

If a currency conversion is necessary to present comparative costs per QALY, then include the year for which the conversion was calculated and the type of dollar should be defined, i.e. CAN$, US$, SGD$, etc.


Inevitably, some of the information in your report will become out-of-date, sometimes even before your journal issue is published. To minimise these occurrences, please be thoughtful about how you convey information about future events, such as policy decisions by policy bodies. For example, ‘The NSC intended to consider the policy implications of X in 2012’ (rather than ‘A decision was still awaited in 2012’).


If the subject area is highly specialised, please produce a glossary – an alphabetical list of technical or medical terms with accompanying explanations presented with the purpose of aiding a reader.


Latin terms (except et al.) and names of muscles are in roman. All single letters that represent variables (x, y, z) should be in italics, for example x-axis and y-axis.

Plain English

We encourage the use of plain English where possible in report writing. Please see the Plain English Campaign website for further information. This includes examples about the principles (including report writing tips) and training courses.


UK spelling. Use –ise spellings (rather than –ize) for words such as globalise /organise (except when such words appear in the titles of referenced papers).