Geology & Geophysics Editors' Vox

New Style for AGU Journals and Books

A major standardization of reference and grammatical styles will be rolled out across AGU publications from September 2017.


The extensive and ongoing changes in the scholarly publishing industry present both challenges and opportunities for associations such as AGU with long traditions of publishing. It can be a major upheaval to revise procedures but equally it can result in efficiencies and improve the user experience.

The major shift from print to online publishing is one such change that has required considerable adjustment. AGU made the transition from print to online-only journals in 2013.  Since then, we have been adopting new software and styles to more effectively use online formats and to streamline operations.

AGU is about to make the next evolution in this process of standardization with a revision of reference and grammatical style. Specifically, we are going to adopt the widely used APA style. This style is a standard in scholarly publishing and is already used across most other Wiley journals. As such it is familiar to their copyeditors and production managers.

The main changes from the longstanding AGU style are in reference and citation format. One very visible change is that parentheses are used rather than brackets around references. Another significant change is in hyphenation rules: AGU style frowned on using hyphens except where absolutely needed for clarity; APA style follows more widespread hyphenation rules. AGU will, of course, continue to follow standards for geologic and planetary names and nomenclature.

For journals, the new style will be available in the Word and Latex manuscript submission templates shortly and Wiley will begin introducing the new style on papers accepted after 1 September 2017. During the transition, we don’t expect authors who have already formatted and prepared their papers to reformat them; APA style will be applied by Wiley’s typesetters. For books, the new style will apply to book contracts signed after 1 September 2017. Editors and authors will be expected to adopt it during manuscript development. Additional information is available in the New AGU Style Guide.

We appreciate that this change will involve some adjustment for our authors and editors but hope and expect that, after an initial time for adoption, this will decrease errors in copyediting.

By standardizing AGU’s style across Wiley’s systems we will be ready for new technological capabilities that will be introduced shortly. This also aligns with the broader efforts of scholarly publishers to standardize the writing, reading, and reviewing experience. A common format results in a more simplified online user experience. It also enables publishers to do other things, such as streamline the transfer of papers to other journals after rejection and make use of growing artificial intelligence for searching and optimizing content.

—Brooks Hanson, Senior Vice President, Publications, AGU; email: [email protected]