Scientific Style and Format: The CSE manual for authors, editors, and proofreaders

(Council of Science Editors/Scion Publishing, 7th ed. 2006): 628pp, £48.58, ISBN 0 9779665 0 X.

Reviewed by Margaret Corbett

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This edition of Scientific Style and Format appears after a substantial interval from the sixth, with a slight change in name because the council of Biology Editors (CBE) is now called the council of Science Editors (CSE). A handsome and meticulously prepared book, it is also good value and deserves its place on the science editor's reference shelf – I'm glad to have it to hand. However, I will be keeping the sixth edition for a while because the overlap of information is incomplete.

Rich collection

The seventh edition's content reflects many of the changes in the publishing process that have occurred during the last 12 years, and includes a rich collection of references, many to websites. The slow but worldwide progress towards standards in classifying terms and units is also apparent.

The index is longer than that in the sixth edition and took me to where I needed to go – some SfEP members had noted that the previous edition's index had been unhelpful in places.

Major expansion

Scientific Style and Format starts with three new chapters about publishing, including 'The basics of copyright'. The history of scientific notation has been omitted. 'Part 2: General style conventions' is similar to that in the CBE manual, though updated. In 'Part 3: Special scientific conventions', the five chapters of biological details have been rearranged into three new chapters with a major expansion of genetic information. The former Parts 4 and 5 are combined into 'Part 4: Technical elements of publishing'.

Some details previously given, such as the abbreviated names of scientific journals, are now more easily found on the internet; website references are provided. The citation-name system of listing references is used rather than the name-year (Harvard) system employed before, and the manual includes a justification for this choice.

Editor's note: Scientific Style and Format is an SfEP recommended reference book.

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