Manuscripts should be submitted in English, and the presentation should be as succinct as comprehension will permit. Manuscripts are reviewed and refereed. Those accepted for publication are edited for conformance to the journal's style.
How to Write a Good Scientific Paper by Chris Mack is a useful guide on writing for a peer-reviewed journal. Click here to download the full PDF of this free SPIE ebook.
For peer review, manuscripts should be submitted with the figures/tables and their captions incorporated into the same file as the manuscript text. However, upon first revision or acceptance, authors will be asked to submit individual figure files and a properly formatted manuscript for use in production. The total combined limit for submission files is ~100 MB.
SPIE journals typically allow only one round of major revision. Authors should carefully address all reviewer comments when submitting a revised manuscript.
Claims of "new" or "novel" work or of being the "first" to report on a topic should be avoided unless they can be fully substantiated.
Authors are required to include a separate cover letter with their submission explaining the significance and novelty of the work, the problem that is being addressed, and why the manuscript belongs in this journal. This cover letter sample (.docx) can be used as a template.
English Language Editing
If you are not a native English speaker, SPIE recommends that your manuscript be professionally edited prior to submission. SPIE authors will receive a 15% discount off the language editing services provided by Editage, an independent editorial service recommended by SPIE. Please note that use of this service does not guarantee editorial acceptance by an SPIE journal. You should avoid making additional changes to your manuscript after receiving the edited version, as grammatical errors maybe introduced. More detailed information can be found at editage.com/spie.
Types of Manuscripts
Letter: A short technical communication of significant interest intended for rapid publication in the Letters section of the journal. The manuscript length may not exceed eight typeset journal pages. This corresponds to approximately 4000 words (excluding title, abstract, and author information); figures will further reduce the maximum word content. Estimate 250 words per figure.
A Letters page length template (.doc) is available for your convenience. Please note that this template should not be used for layout and formatting of your manuscript. It should only be used to roughly determine the final length of a typeset paper. To use this template, copy and paste the text of your abstract, paper body, and references where shown, and do not change font or margins. Insert and size your figures and captions to determine if the paper will fit within the four-page limit. For manuscript formatting templates, please refer to the instructions in the General Guidelines for Authors.
Regular Paper: A full-length manuscript presenting original work intended as a regular contribution to the journal.
Special Section Paper: A full-length manuscript presenting original work intended for submission to a special topical section organized by a guest editor.
Review Paper: An article reviewing a particular topic or field. Review papers are typically invited papers written by a highly regarded expert in the field. Review articles summarize progress made in a particular research or development area during a specified period and summarize the current state of the art. An author interested in submitting a review paper should submit an abstract and outline of the projected paper to the Editor for approval, prior to submission.
To make your initial submission process as easy as possible, as well as to make it easier for the editors and referees to review your manuscript, for the initial submission we only require a single document containing the manuscript and figures, along with any supporting multimedia files. The document may be in MS Word, LaTeX, or PDF. The figures and their captions should be placed within the manuscript, near the first mention each figure in the text. Individual figure files and source manuscript files will then be requested in one of the acceptable formats upon revision. When submitting a revised manuscript, you may upload a single .zip file containing the manuscript and figure files.
Microsoft Word: A Microsoft Word template (.docx) is available to assist you with formatting. Use MathType for equations. Or, if using MS Word 2007 or later, the native equation editor can be used, but the document must be saved as .docx. Backsaving to .doc format will convert all equations to low-resolution graphics, which cannot be used for typesetting. Please note that all accepted papers are professionally typeset; the template is intended only as a guideline for author convenience, and it is not necessary to rigidly adhere to the format.
LaTeX: A LaTeX template (.zip) is available to assist you with formatting, or you can use the Overleaf authoring tool explained below. LaTeX manuscripts can be uploaded as a .zip file including the manuscript, locally compiled PDF, bibliography, and all referenced style files and figures; or, the files can be uploaded separately. Please include all style files that are referenced in the .tex manuscript (such as .cls, .bst, .sty, etc.). Upon submission, choose file type "Merged PDF" for the locally compiled PDF; select "Bibliography" for .bib files; and select "LaTeX Supplementary File" for .cls, .bst, . sty, and any other associated style files. Do not include the README.txt file in the upload. Please note that all accepted papers are professionally typeset; the template is intended only as a guideline for author convenience.
The SPIE journal template is now available in the Overleaf authoring tool. Originally developed to simplify LaTeX authorship, this free online tool has numerous benefits, including:
- real-time collaboration between authors
- an intuitive user interface
- user support and LaTeX help
- easy document sharing and security options
- real-time preview of formatting and equations
- inline error warnings
- a rich-text mode that will look familiar to collaborators who are more comfortable authoring in Microsoft Word
- quick submission to an SPIE journal by following the link "Submit to SPIE Journals" at the top of the Overleaf template.
The SPIE Journal template can be found on Overleaf, along with helpful LaTeX tutorials and a free introductory course for authors who are new to Overleaf and LaTeX. If you encounter any problems using the SPIE LaTeX template on Overleaf, please contact their support team via https://www.overleaf.com/contact and they will help you resolve the issue.
Parts of a Manuscript
The title of your paper should be descriptive and concise.
- Acronyms should be spelled out.
- Titles should not begin with the articles A, An, or The.
- Avoid use of the words "new" or "novel" in the title.
Authors and Affiliations
Provide full author names, including given name and family name. These names will be used in official databases and indexes. Initials are not allowed for the given name. Provide full affiliations, including institution, department, street address, city, postal code, and country. An email address should be provided for the corresponding author, and this person should be noted with a footnote.
The abstract should be a summary of the paper and not an introduction (200 words maximum). Because the abstract may be used in abstracting journals, it should be self-contained (i.e., no numerical references) and substantive in nature, presenting concisely the objectives, methodology used, results obtained, and their significance. For further guidelines, please read the brief article titled "How to Write an Abstract," by Philip Koopman. (Courtesy of Philip Koopman, Carnegie Mellon University.) Abstracts should not make claims of novelty, as publication implies novelty.
The online submission form has an optional field to include a short plain-language summary of your research (200 words maximum) and its potential applications. (This item should not be included in the actual manuscript file; you will be asked to add it on the submission form.) Nonspecialist readers should be able to understand the language used and the significance of the work. The summary should provide an accurate description of the importance of the research without overstating the potential impact of the paper. This research summary may be used by the journal for promotion of significant work.
Subject terms or keywords
Keywords are required. Please provide 3-6 keywords related to your paper.
Type manuscript single-spaced, in a single column, using a readable font size (for example, 12-point type). Page numbers and line numbers must be included.
Note the following style points:
- Journal style does not permit use of bold and italic font for emphasis; these styles should be reserved for formatting math.
- Words should be spelled using American English.
- Spell out all abbreviations and acronyms at first use.
- Metric units should be used unless to do so is not feasible or would result in a serious loss of clarity.
- Footnotes are not allowed.
Create equations using MathType or Equation Editor 3.0. If using Word 2007 or later, the native equation editor can be used, but the document must be saved as .docx. When equations built with Microsoft's Editor are back-saved to the .doc format, they are converted to low-resolution graphics and will not be usable for composition. To use MathType or the old Equation Editor 3.0, you will need to select Object on the Text section of the Insert tab and then select MathType/Equation Editor in the drop-down menu. Variables should be written in italic font.
Biographies of authors are published with each paper. Manuscripts should include a brief professional biography not to exceed 75 words. Authors are also encouraged to update their online SPIE profile with their photograph and biography on our website at http://spie.org/profiles/home. This profile will be linked to the published paper.
Any figures, tables, or equations in Appendices should continue the numbering sequence established in the body of the paper. Appendices may not be comprised of only tables and figures; they must also include explanatory text and captions.
Use this section to identify people who have aided the authors in accomplishing the work presented and to acknowledge sources of funding. Include grant numbers and the full name of the funding body. Funding information will be deposited to FundRef.
The purpose of a reference is to make the source easy for the reader to locate. To this end, each reference should provide as much information as is available. The basic elements of a reference include author names (including first initials), article/chapter title, journal or book title, volume number, issue number, page range, and year of publication. References are professionally copyedited on accepted manuscripts to conform to journal style, and authors do not need to spend a lot of time adapting references to the journal's reference format, so long as all of the required information is present.
References to published literature should be listed at the end of the manuscript and numbered consecutively in the order of their citation in the text. In-text citations can use superscript or bracketed reference numbers. Private communications or unpublished reports should be treated as references. Click here for sample book, journal, and Internet references. For references with three or fewer authors, list all authors. For references with four or more authors, list the first author only followed by "et al."
Books: Author(s) (list first and middle initials, then last name), book title in italic, publisher, city, and year published. (When citing a paper chapter in a book, list the chapter title in quotes, and the book title in italic, plus the page numbers.) Example: J. A. Hall, "Imaging tubes," Chap. 13 in The Infrared Handbook, W. W. Wolfe, G. J. Zissis, Eds., pp. 132-176, ERIM, Ann Arbor, MI (1978).
Journals: Author(s) (list first and middle initials, then last name), paper title in quotes, journal name in italic (abbreviate only well-known journals), volume and issue numbers, inclusive page numbers, and year published. Example: N. Bluzer and A. S. Jensen, "Current readout of infrared detectors," Opt. Eng. 26(3), 241-248 (1987).
Internet: Author (if stated), “Title of document,” Title of complete work (if relevant), date of online publication or last revision, (date of access, if known) [URL]. Example: J. D. Harrington and K. Barnstorff, "NASA tests software that may help increase flight efficiency, decrease aircraft noise," NASA, 15 December 2014 (accessed 29 January 2015). [http://www.nasa.gov/press/2014/december/nasa-tests-software-that-may-help-increase-flight-efficiency-decrease-aircraft/#.VMq3AfldVI5]
Figures: must be submitted via the online submission system in EPS, TIFF, PNG, or PDF format. We cannot accept application files, i.e., Corel Draw, Microsoft Word, etc. Number all figures in the order that they appear in the text. All figure parts/panels must be labeled (a), (b), etc. Submit high-resolution figures. The quality of the published figure is only as good as the original file—it cannot be improved by the typesetter.
Figure Permissions: If the figure is derived from a previously published image, the author must obtain permission from the original copyright holder, who may be the publisher and/or the author. Once permission is granted, the figure caption should include the line "Reproduced with permission, courtesy of [copyright owner]," or the publisher's required copyright statement. Many permissions can be obtained via the Copyright Clearance Center.
||EPS, TIFF, PNG, PDF, or PS
||Figures will be reduced to a maximum width of 3 and 5/16 in. for single-column layout, and a maximum width of 6 and 3/4 in. for two-column layout.
||Avoid graphs with shaded, transparent, or grid backgrounds. The background should be white.
||All line art should be distinguishable in grayscale. If colored lines are used, please add symbols or dot-dash textures to distinguish lines in all graphs.
||Ensure that line weights will be 0.5 points or greater in the final published size. Light-colored lines do not show up when printed in grayscale.
||LZW with .tiff files
||300-600 pixels per inch (ppi). Enlarge to 150% to check for jagged or blurry lines, indicating low resolution.
||Flattened, no layers
||RGB or CMYK
||No smaller than 8 pt. Use a clear and readable font such as Times, Arial, or Symbol.
||Do not include in image file. Captions should be listed separately within the manuscript and contain descriptions of all labeled figure parts (a), (b), etc.
||Maximum of approximately 3 MB per figure
||All parts should be included in one file, on one page. For example, if Figure 1 contains three parts (a, b, c), then all of the labeled parts should be combined in a single file for Figure 1.
Tables should be built in Word, Excel (embedded in Word), or LaTeX. They should not contain graphics. Tables containing images must be numbered as figures. Colored fonts will not appear in the typeset version, so bold and italic should be used for emphasis instead. Explain use of bold or italic in the caption or table footnote. Do not use shading. Very large tables may be vertically oriented, or they may span multiple typeset pages. A caption must be included with the table.
Research articles, letters, and reviews may include video files. Acceptable file formats, including MOV, MPG, and MP4, are playable using standard media players, such as VLC or Windows Media Player. Standard media players should be used to check file properties and image/sound quality prior to submission. Because the speed of internet connection varies, a recommended maximum size for each video file is approximately 12 MB.
The video should be mentioned according to the following numbering convention: Video 1, Video 2, etc. If videos are included as part of an existing figure, they should be described and identified within the figure caption. The media file type and size should be included in parentheses at the end of the caption; e.g., (MPEG, 2.5 MB). For example:
Fig. 1 Confocal microscopic images of red blood cells in (a) an isotonic buffer (Video 1) and (b) a hypertonic buffer (Video 2) in three different viewing projections (Video 1, MPEG, 3.1 MB; Video 2, MPEG, 4.2 MB).
Authors are encouraged to provide a representative still image for any stand-alone video. This image should be treated as a figure, numbered in sequence, and submitted in one of the accepted figure file formats. A caption describing the content of the video file is required, similar to a typical figure caption. For example:
Fig. 4 Photodynamic therapy response of the targeted region (MP4, 5 MB).
Code and Data
Software and code essential for reproducibility and reuse can be easily incorporated into your SPIE journal manuscript via Code Ocean. Uniquely, Code Ocean allows you to upload the code, together with its dependencies and any data, so it is executable. Code Ocean supports more than 10 different programming languages. The Code Ocean platform provides open access to the published software code, which can be viewed and downloaded by everyone for free. Users can execute all published code in the cloud, without installing anything on their personal computer. Code Ocean is SPIE's recommended platform for sharing code, but other repositories, such as GitHub, Zenodo, etc., may be similarly used as a hosting platform.
Manuscripts that include code, e.g., an algorithm implementation or analysis, hosted by an external website should mention that code and the name of the repository in the text of the paper or figure caption:
The archived version of the code can be freely accessed and executed through Code Ocean.
The code used to generate the results and figures is available in a Github repository.
If you intend to upload code to Code Ocean, you may do so before or after article acceptance, but prior to publication. Authors of papers that mention code/software on Code Ocean will receive instructions on how to link the code to the article in the author proofs.
Authors may reference large datasets hosted on external websites (such as an official data center/archive or a university repository) by including a link to the site in the manuscript.
SPIE journals generally do not accept or publish supplementary materials. However, if certain types of supplementary material may benefit the reader's understanding of the work, they may be considered for publication (e.g., as part of an appendix or associated with a table or figure in the primary text). If you wish to include supplementary materials in your manuscript, please contact the journal staff at firstname.lastname@example.org for guidance.
Peer Review Process
All submissions are screened to ensure they meet basic standards of manuscript presentation and are also processed through Crossref Similarity Check. Manuscripts are then evaluated by the editor-in-chief (EiC) and/or a designated editorial board member (EBM) to ensure they meet the journal's rigorous scientific standards and are eligible for peer review. Manuscripts that meet these criteria are single-blind reviewed by at least two referees selected by the EBM based on their expertise in the topic. The referees provide detailed comments and recommendations to help the EBM arrive at the appropriate editorial decision. Revised manuscripts are evaluated by the EBM and are sent back to the original referees in the case of major revisions. The EiC has the ultimate authority to accept or reject a submission.
Authors may appeal to the EBM or EiC to reconsider a rejection decision if they believe that the reviewers have seriously misjudged the manuscript. All appeals will be given careful consideration. The EBM and/or EiC will determine if further consideration is merited or if the original decision should stand.
Submissions from editors or members of the editorial board are handled by an editorial board member who is not connected with the manuscript to ensure that such submissions receive an objective and unbiased evaluation. Information about the review process for such submissions is redacted from the view of any editors or editorial board members who are authors of the paper within the journal's online submission and review system.