Guidelines for Articles in the ESO Messenger

General

The Messenger serves as a link between ESO and its astronomical community. It provides information about scientific, technical and other developments connected with ESO. At the same time it aims to provide interesting news about astronomy and astrophysics to a broader public, including policy makers, government officials, journalists, teachers, students, amateur astronomers and the wider public interested in astronomy, as well as to scientists from different fields.

The ESO Messenger is published four times a year, normally in March, June, September and December, and is distributed to about 5,000 addresses. The Editor is Dr. Jeremy Walsh and the Technical Editor is Mafalda Martins.


Contributions

Normally the editor solicits contributions to the ESO Messenger. Unsolicited manuscripts are also welcome, but are subject to approval by the editor before they can be published. All Messenger articles must have some connection to ESO. Deadlines for submitting articles for the March, June, September and December issues are January 20, April 20, July 20 and October 20, respectively.

Submitted manuscripts are checked for obvious errors as far as possible, but it is not possible to undertake major revisions of the language. Therefore, authors are encouraged to have colleagues go over manuscripts for advice on language, style and content before submission. Messenger articles are normally not refereed, although the editor may in some cases solicit the advice of other ESO astronomers before finally accepting an article.

Authors will receive proofs of their articles as PDF files shortly before publication. These should be examined carefully, and any corrections (not revisions) sent back to the Technical Editor as quickly as possible.

On some occasions an article may have to be delayed to the next issue. The authors will be informed of this immediately, and will have the opportunity to revise the article, if so desired.


Style guide

Because of the very broad readership, articles in The Messenger must be of wide general interest and reader-friendly - more like magazine articles than formal reviews in professional scientific/technical journals, hence not too narrow, detailed or technical. The beginning of an article must introduce the broad subject and its background to the general reader. Overall, the style should be readable but informative.

Articles, including figures, tables, etc. should not normally exceed four Messenger pages in total (see below for conversion factors). Of course, shorter contributions, down to a figure with an appropriate caption, are certainly welcome. An article should contain no more that 10 references, and no more than 6 figures. Equations should be avoided or kept to an absolute minimum.

Articles of this size should be able to convey the essence, relevance and most important aspects of the subject to the average reader. Longer articles containing many details, figures and references (typical of professional reviews) are normally not appropriate for The Messenger.

Specific style points:

  • Each article should contain a short summary especially geared towards non-specialists.
  • Full first and last names of all authors, and their affiliations, should be given.
  • Do not number your sections. The section titles should be as concise as possible. Please avoid section titles such as "Introduction" and "Conclusion" (do not include a conclusion at the end which is only a summary of your article - the very short summary at the beginning of the article serves this purpose).
  • The text should be written in British English. If you are unsure, please have your text checked by a native-English speaker. At the least, use a spelling checker. Numbers up to nine should be written in letters - i.e. do not write "this system comprises 2 windows" but rather "this system comprises two windows". Use SI units, i.e. nm instead of angstroms. Explain all abbreviations.
  • Avoid the use of upper case text throughout the document (including the summary and section titles).
  • Avoid equations unless absolutely necessary.
  • There should be no more than 6 figures. They should preferably be in colour and of high quality (minimum 300 dpi resolution).
  • Figure captions should be kept fairly short. They should serve largely (or completely) to explain the figure itself. They should contain minimal (or no) discussion or conclusions, which belong in the main body of text which refers to the figure.
  • The references (no more than 10) should be in the Astronomy & Astrophysics format.

Technical guide

  • In its present format, The Messenger uses a Helvetica 9 pt font. A text-only Messenger page contains about 1100 words or 6500 characters (with spaces). One should typically consider about two figures or tables per page of text. A typical four page article in The Messenger therefore comprises roughly 5-6 figures or tables and about 3000 words (about 10,000 characters including spaces).
  • For the manuscript text, Word is preferred - otherwise plain text, Latex or postscript are also acceptable. In all cases, use as little formatting as possible. In Word, use Helvetica 9 pt font. In Latex, do not use specific document styles (e.g. do not submit your paper in A&A format).
  • For figures, vectorised graphics in postscript format are preferred, although jpegs, tiffs, gifs and pngs can also be accepted. Figures must have a 300 dpi resolution in the size the author would like to see it printed. Please check the resolution of your figures using GIMP or Graphic Converter (both freeware). Be sure that the lines are thick and dark enough so that they will come out correctly in The Messenger. Please also be sure that the labels on the figures are large enough that they can still be read when the figures are reduced in size. Use Helvetica for the labels. Typical sizes for figures in The Messenger are 5.9, 7.5, 9 and 12 cm wide. If you provide pixelised images they should have around 1500 x 1100 pixels which results to a total amount of around 6 MB.
  • A printable version of the complete article, with all figures included in the document, should be sent.
  • Figures should also be sent separately from the text preferably in the original version. Please name the figures following this example: author_figx.format.
  • The article text, the figures and the printable version should preferably be sent as a gzipped tar file with the name of the first author as filename.

Article Submission

If you have received an email invitation from the Editor to submit an article to the Messenger, please proceed to the Submission Form for the Messenger. In order to submit an article successfully, you must use the Messenger code that you received in your email from the Editor. If you have any questions, please contact the Editor, Jeremy Walsh and the Technical Editor Mafalda Martins.