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OSA Publishing

Author & Reviewer Resource Center

Journal Style Guide

AO, AOP, JOSA A, JOSA B, OL, Optica (new), Photonics Research

Templates for MS Word and LaTeX & REVTeX are available. Manuscript Preparation Templates are available. The Authors tab on each journal's homepage provides general information. See "Publishing Your Manuscript" to receive tips for preparing a manuscript and an overview of the peer review process.

1. Page Layout and Title Page

The title should be concise but informative. Avoid beginning with an article or a preposition. The words "new" or "novel" should be avoided in the title and abstract for legal reasons. Titles may be edited by the publisher to facilitate computer search.

Author names should be given in full and consistent form to facilitate indexing. Every effort should be made to keep author names consistent from one paper to the next as they appear within OSA publications. Affiliations and postal addresses for all authors should appear on the title page.

1Publications Department, OSA—The Optical Society, 2010 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036
2College of Physics, Jilin University, Changhun 130012, China
*Corresponding author: author_three@uni-jena.de

The abstract should be limited to approximately 100 words. It should be an explicit summary of the paper that states the problem, the methods used, and the major results and conclusions. If another publication is referenced in the abstract, abbreviated information (e.g., authors, journal, volume number, first page, year) must be given in the abstract itself without a reference number. The first reference cited in the main text will be [1]. Note that the combination of abstract and title must be an adequate indicator of the content of the paper, since it will stand alone in electronic bibliographic databases and printed abstracting journals.

Two to six OCIS Codes should be provided to help with indexing. The codes should be entered as part of the electronic submission process and should also be listed on the manuscript below the abstract. Aside from indexing purposes, we use OCIS keywords to aid us in matching your paper to reviewers. The OCIS index is formatted with top-level categories and subtopics. A full-text search of the OCIS Codes is available.

2. Mathematical and Scientific Notation

A. Displayed Equations

Equations should be punctuated and aligned to show structure and should be numbered at the right:

B. In-Line Math

Simple fractions in in-line math should use parentheses when necessary to avoid ambiguity, for example, to distinguish between 1/(n - 1) and 1/n - 1. In-text fractions should be set on line, not built up. Exceptions to this are proper fractions such as ½, which are better left in this form. Summations and integrals that appear within text such as ½ (n2 - 2n)-1 should have limits placed to the right of the symbol to reduce white space and should not use oversized symbols.

C. General Guidelines on Notation

Notation must be legible, clear, compact, and consistent with standard usage. In general, acronyms should be defined at first use. Adherence to the following guidelines will greatly assist the production process:

Radical Signs. When possible, avoid oversized radical signs by using the notation of a superscript 1/2. For example, change Radical to [(a + b)(a - c)]1/2.

Exponentials. Avoid tiny superscripts of exponential e (e.g., ejkl) by using the alternative exp notation, exp(jkl).

Variables and Vectors. Set single-letter variables in italics (k). Set three-vectors in boldface (k). Functions, derivative "d," abbreviations, and multiletter identifiers should be set in roman (plain) type (α, cos, ∫...dx, kout).

Multiplication. In general, close up multiplied terms (pypx); use × if multiplication sign is essential (1 × 10 2) or for continuation in displayed equations. Use a centered dot only for scalar product (·).

Fences. For simple bracketing the usual order of parentheses and brackets is { [ ( { [ ( · ) ] } ) ] } .

Bit and Byte. The standard abbreviations for bit and byte are b and B, respectively. To avoid confusion, these units should be spelled out in most cases (1 bit, 20 GBytes).

Metric System. The S.I. metric system is used in OSA journals. If nonmetric units are essential (e.g., for parts specifications), conversion should be given at first mention: ". . . a ¼-in. bolt (1 in. = 2.54 cm)."

3. References and Notes

References should be numbered consecutively in the order in which they are first referenced in the body of the paper. Two references [2,3] should be included together, separated by a comma, and three or more consecutive references should be indicated by the bounding numbers and an en dash [1-4].

When in-line reference numbers are essential (e.g., see [1]), it is not necessary to use the words "Reference(s)" or "Ref(s)." except when needed for clarity. Footnotes (notes at the bottom of text pages) are not used in OSA journals. Footnotes should be incorporated into the text or set at the back with references as an endnote.

Be sure to include two sets of references for papers submitted to Optics Letters and letters submitted to Optica: one full set that includes the titles of each referenced article and one abbreviated set from which the article titles have been omitted. The former set is to be included within the four-page Letters limit, and the latter set will be removed before publication (and will not be included in the length estimate). For other OSA journals, only the full set of references is necessary.

When reference authors are mentioned in the text, use surnames only (unless further clarity is needed), and use "et al." and first author name when three or more authors are given.

OSA Publishing and online journals allow export of references in BibTeX, RIS, RTF, and plain text formats. See the templates page for BibTex and EndNote tools.

Journal paper

1. C. van Trigt, "Visual system-response functions and estimating reflectance," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 14, 741–755 (1997).

Journal paper identified by paper number

2. L. Rippe, B. Julsgaard, A. Walther, Y. Ying, and S. Kröll, "Experimental quantum-state tomography of a solid-state qubit," Phys. Rev. A 77, 022307 (2008).

The paper number is sufficient. There is no need to give the number of pages.


2. T. Masters, Practical Neural Network Recipes in C++ (Academic, 1993).

Chapter in a book

3. B. L. Shoop, A. H. Sayles, and D. M. Litynski, "New devices for optoelectronics: smart pixels," in Handbook of Fiber Optic Data Communications, C. DeCusatis, D. Clement, E. Maass, and R. Lasky, eds. (Academic, 1997), pp. 705–758.

Paper in a published conference proceedings

4. R. E. Kalman,"Algebraic aspects of the generalized inverse of a rectangular matrix," in Proceedings of Advanced Seminar on Generalized Inverse and Applications, M. Z. Nashed, ed. (Academic, 1976), pp. 111–124.

Paper published in an OSA conference proceedings

5. R. Craig and B. Gignac, "High-power 980-nm pump lasers," in Optical Fiber Communication Conference, Vol. 2 of 1996 OSA Technical Digest Series (Optical Society of America, 1996), paper ThG1.

Paper presented at a meeting/from an unpublished conference proceeding

6. D. Steup and J. Weinzierl, "Resonant THz-meshes," presented at the Fourth International Workshop on THz Electronics, Erlangen-Tennenlohe, Germany, 5–6 September 1996.

SPIE proceedings

7. S. K. Griebel M. Richardson, K. E. Devenport, and H. S. Hinton, "Experimental performance of an ATM-based buffered hyperplane CMOSSEED smart pixel array," Proc. SPIE 3005, 254-264 (1997).

For later SPIE proceedings with a paper number, cite just the number and not any page information

8. S. Gu, F. Shao, G. Jiang, F. Li, and M. Yu, "An objective visibility threshold measurement method for asymmetric stereoscopic images," Proc. SPIE 8205, 820505 (2011).

IEEE proceedings

9. T. Darrel and K. Wohn, "Pyramid based depth from focus," in Proceedings of IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (IEEE, 1988), pp. 504–509.

Paper accepted for publication, not yet published

10. D. W. Diehl and T. D. Visser, "Phase singularities of the longitudinal field components in the focal region of a high-aperture optical system," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A (to be published).

Manuscript in preparation

11. J. Q. Smith, Laboratory for Laser Energetics, University of Rochester, 250 East River Road, Rochester, New York 14623, USA, and K. Marshall are preparing a manuscript to be called "Optical aspects in liquid crystals."

Personal communication

12. J. Richardson, Department of Peer Review, Optical Society of America, 2010 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C., 20036 (personal communication, 2001).

Internet links

13. A. G. Ramm, "Invisible obstacles," http://www.arxiv.org/abs/math-ph/0608034.

4. Figures and Tables

A. Figures

Figure Layout

Fig. 1. Sample multipanel

Figures will normally be reduced to one column width (8.4 cm) and should be prepared accordingly. If a particular figure should not be reduced, a note to that effect should be included with the figure. Figures should be numbered consecutively in the order of appearance and citation in the text. Be sure to cite every figure. Handwritten lettering and low-quality computer graphics are not acceptable. Electronic files should be sized as they will appear in the journal and should be accompanied by high-quality laser prints. Files should have a resolution of 600 dpi.

Read more explicit information on Electronic Art Submission Guidelines.

Color Illustrations

Color images can enhance the presentation of data and information. Figures are therefore published in OSA journals in color online by default and at no charge to authors.

Color illustrations can be printed in OSA journals; however, it is necessary that authors (via their institution or funding agency) defray the cost of color printing. Authors who choose to include color illustrations in print will be billed according to these charges:

  • $650 for the first color figure
  • + $325 for each additional figure
  • + cost of color reprints, if applicable

Waivers for printed color will not be granted. Authors who cannot pay color charges will receive color online only.

Any figures that are printed in color will also appear in color online.

The charge for color reprints depends on the article length. Payment for color reprints is made to Sheridan Press.

Copyright and permissions

If any figures have been previously published, it is important that authors request permission from the publisher (not from the author) and add the required permission line to the caption exactly as specified by the publisher. Use of images under an open license often still requires attribution. Please check the source for applicable terms for reuse. Note that images of people or images owned or trademarked by other entities (including well-known logo's or cartoon characters for example) will also require official written permission for publication in OSA journals. Copies of all permission grants should be forwarded to the journal.

Use of the Lena image in OSA Journals

Authors are encouraged to avoid use of the Lena image. Authors who submit manuscripts to OSA journals that include the Lena image will be asked to justify the scientific necessity of using the image and why no reasonable substitute can be made. Authors are encouraged to use alternate test images. Other standard test images include, "Cameraman" or "Mandril" or "Peppers" or a large number of other images distributed with packages like MATLAB and available in the public domain.

B. Tables

Tables must be numbered. Tables with multiple parts should be split into separate numbered tables [not Table 1(a), Table 1(b), etc.]. The table title, which should be brief, goes above the table. Detailed explanations or table footnotes should be typed directly beneath the table, as shown. Tables should use horizontal rules to delimit the top and bottom of the table and column headings. In general, no other rules should be used. Note that tables are typeset, not scanned (tables cannot be electronically reduced in size).


5. Funding Sources

Funding sources should be identified by name and contract number in the Acknowledgments section. Optica authors should identify funding sources in dedicated section as shown:

Funding Information
National Science Foundation (NSF) (1263236, 0968895, 1102301);
The 863 Program (2013AA014402)

6. Article Thumbnail

OSA authors are strongly encouraged to upload a thumbnail image to be used next to their article in the Table of Contents and abstract pages of the journal. Authors must submit a .JPG file. The image will be resized to 100 x 100 pixels. For best results, authors should upload an image this size or an image with square dimensions. No author photos are to be submitted; exceptions must be cleared by the managing editor.

The 100 x 100 pixel image will be displayed on the article abstract page and a 50 x 50 pixel image will be displayed on the Table of Contents page.

Although a replica of the image does not need to appear in the manuscript itself, it must have a strong connection to the research contained within the paper and must be the property of the author(s) of the current paper. This means that even if the article does not contain figures, a thumbnail can still be submitted as long as it relates strongly to the research and is original. Images containing institution or corporate logos should not be submitted.

7. Letter Paper Length

Note that Optics Letters and letters papers in Optica have a limit of four printed pages. If a paper exceeds this limit, it must be shortened before the paper is accepted. If the page proof is over the four-page limit, the proof must be shortened before the paper can be assigned to a final issue. Authors should use the appropriate Word or LaTeX templates to prepare manuscripts to facilitate length checking.

8. Quality of English

If a student-level reader might find your English difficult to understand, please have a colleague who is fluent in English edit your paper or consider using a language editing service (eg, http://languageediting.osa.org/) before you submit it to OSA. A poorly written manuscript will most likely be rejected without external review, so addressing language deficiencies before submission is important.

9. Final Remarks

Authors will receive an e-mail notification to download page proofs of their papers. Corrected proofs should be returned following the instructions in the notification as soon as possible, preferably within 24 hours of receipt, to avoid publication delays.

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