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Frequent Errors to Avoid
Frequent Errors to Avoid
These are the most common style errors noticed by editors:
- Capitalization errors in the title.
- No “Manuscript received date” in first-page footnote.
- Incomplete author information in first-page footnote. The e-mail address should be the same as that for the corresponding author.
- Insufficient resolution in figures (figure looks good on screen, but appears blurry in print). Consult the IEEE Guidelines for Author Supplied Electronic Text and Graphics, and use the IEEE Graphics Checker.
- No space inserted between a number and its unit. For example, “4.2K” is not acceptable; “4.2 K” is correct. An exception is percentage (e.g. 25%). The degree symbol combines with the temperature unit, e.g. “20 °C”. Use a non-breaking space (in Word: ctrl-shift-space; in LaTeX the tilde character “~”) to avoid having the unit appear on a new line separated from the number.
- Not using Italic font for symbols.
- Not defining acronyms.
- Missing subscripts in chemical compounds. “Nb3Sn” refers to an alloy of 3% Sn in a balance of Nb. “Nb3Sn” is an intermetallic compound.
- Not using “Fig.” to refer to a figure in the body text. IEEE style explicitly calls for this requirement instead of “Figure”, “figure”, or “fig”, even when used at the beginning of a sentence.
- Not inserting a space between Fig. and the figure number. For example, “Fig. 1” is correct, “Fig.1” is not correct. Use a non-breaking space to avoid having the figure number appear on a new line separated from “Fig.”.
- Tables not being numbered in Roman numerals.
- Improper format of multiple citations. For example, “[1,2]” and “[1-3]” are not correct; “,” and “-” are correct. Authors should note that other journals use a reference style that is not consistent with the required IEEE Style.
- Putting vertical lines in the tables.
- Putting extra horizontal lines in tables.
- Omitting the period after the figure number in the figure caption. “Fig. 1.” is the correct format.
- Journal titles not set in Italic font in the references.
- Page range not being specified in the references. For example, “pp. 700–702”.
- Improper use of “et al.” The abbreviations “et. al.”, “et al”, “Et Al” are not correct (“et al.” is Latin for “et alia”, meaning “and others”).
The following are the most common language problems observed by editors:
- Improper use of definite and indefinite articles. Use “the” when writing about a specific noun or phrase. Use “a” or “an” when writing about something not specific.
- Use of indefinite articles for non-countable nouns. Incorrect: “He gave me an advice.” Correct: “He gave me advice”, and “I used the advice he gave me.”
- Use of the wrong indefinite article for spoken sound. In general, ‘a’ precedes a word with a spoken sound derived from a consonant, whereas ‘an’ precedes a word with a spoken sound derived from a vowel. Examples: “a conductor”, “an insulator”. Identifying the first letter as a consonant or vowel is not a sufficient criterion: “an honest mistake”, “a uniform field”. Acronyms, abbreviations, and constructed words are also governed by the spoken sound of the first letter: “a U.S. delegate”, “an ASC board member”.
- Improper use of prepositions. Referees and editors sometimes face a difficult challenge to interpret what the author is visualizing when a preposition does not make sense.
- Improper use of infinitives. Infinitives (“to” + base form of a verb, e.g. “to investigate”) may often be used as subjects, as a short form of ‘in order to’ or explaining ‘why’, and as objects of certain personal verbs (“I aspire to learn…”). This is a difficult problem for referees and editors, because the replacement of an infinitive “to <verb>” by the –ing form “<verb>ing” can change the meaning of what is written, making it difficult to determine what the author meant to say.
- Subject and verb not in agreement in number.
- Changes in tense within a paragraph.
- Changes between active and passive voice.
- Capitalization errors.
- Improper punctuation.
- Run on sentences. Excessively long sentences are difficult to follow, especially when they contain multiple clauses or link many independent ideas. A sentence with five or more commas almost certainly needs to be broken into two or more sentences. A paragraph consisting of two very long sentences would be written much better with more breaks.