Cover image for Vol. 37 Issue 12

Edited By: Andrew Moore

Online ISSN: 1521-1878

Comprehensive support for preparing your manuscript

Here you can find information that will help you to prepare and improve your manuscript. To get a PDF-version of the general instructions for authors, please click here. For more detailed information on certain aspects that may help you in preparing your manuscript or during the revision, please take a look at the links provided further down in the respective sections.

Scope of BioEssays

BioEssays is a reviews and features journal for a readership in cell and molcular biology, genetics, physiology and related disciplines. Its functions are: (1) to present in language and figures recent developments that are engaging and intelligible to readers from a broad spectrum of disciplines within biology and biomedical science, and (2) to extend the discussion of ideas in biology, emphasising transdisciplinarity where appropriate.
Papers for BioEssays should be in essay-style with clear, broadly understandable narrative (story) and language, forward-looking perspective, remarks on open questions, hypotheses or speculations on the answers to such gaps in knowledge, and a clear statement of new insights that are being brought to the field.

Preparing your manuscript

Writing for a broad audience

Papers for BioEssays should develop their thesis as a scientific "story" with reflection and vision. Text should be broken up into sections with short, statement-like subheadings. Each section should end with with a brief summary (1 or 2 sentences) of the main points/conclusions drawn (particularly new insights!).
For more details on good narrative construction (and some examples), please click here.
Please consult our rubric guide for the respective word limits of the different rubrics. These word limits are for body text only: acknowledgements, figure legends and reference list do not count.
If you find it hard to stick to the word limit, click here for some helpful tips on how to shorten your article.

English language

We accept both UK and US English, but a manuscript must be written in one or other of the two, not a mixture. The quality of English can strongly influence the success of peer review. If appropriate in your case, have a native speaker look over the whole manuscript before submission. You can also get help from Wiley's editing services.

Title and subtitle

Title: Describe the topic simply and engagingly. State the main point of the paper in the title, using good keywords. The title should not exceed 17 words.
Subtitle: In no more than 20 words, describe the main insight that is presented in the manuscript.
For further reading on how to optimise your title (with some examples), please click here.

Summary (Abstract)

The limit for the abstract is 150 words, and no citations are allowed. Some of our rubrics do not have summaries (abstracts). Please chek out our rubric guide first. Place your most important and new concepts or insights first in the summary, not in the middle. Do not begin with an old and well-known fact (e.g. "The sequencing of the human genome has produced huge quantities of data..."). End the summary with a forward-looking perspective, if possible.
Important: The article summary is the only piece (apart from the title) that potential reviewers read before accepting or declining the invitation to review! The summary should be extremely well written and structured, clearly presenting the main new insight of the manuscript early, and in an appealing way.
For more information on writing good abstracts, please click here.


The Introduction should not exceed 1000 words. Some of our rubrics do not have a section headed "Introduction". Please chek out our rubric guide first. Give a concise introduction suitable for a broad audience and not an exhaustive list of highly field-specific information and abbreviations. Those should instead be extracted and condensed into one or more tables or information boxes (see below).


Please do not use more than 300 words for your conclusions. Some of our rubrics do not have a section headed "Conclusions". Please chek out our rubric guide first. Condense the main points of the article, and present implications, consequences for new understanding and future perspectives. Head this section "Conclusions" or "Conclusions and prospects".

Tables and information boxes

Specialized parts of the text can be condensed into information boxes. However, these boxes should not exceed 1 page each. Highly structured information (e.g. gene names and regulators, proteins and ligands, etc.) can be summarised in tabular format. Boxes/tables should be referenced from the text where appropriate. If vital for immediate understanding of the article, an information box/table can be placed immediately after the introduction. Please bear in mind the limit of 6 figures/tables/boxes per article and reserve enough of these for the things you really want readers to understand. (Exceptions: only 2 figures/tables/boxes are allowed for the following rubrics: Ex laboratorio, Ideas & Speculations, Commentary and Book reviews.) For more information, please click here.

Figures and photographs

Appropriate use of figures/illustrations and photos to explain complicated concepts or the object of discussion is welcome. A total of 6 is permitted. (Exceptions: only 2 figures/tables/boxes are allowed for the following rubrics: Ex laboratorio, Ideas & Speculations, Commentary and Book reviews.) To ensure good print quality, your figures should be submitted preferably in PPT (Power Point) or TIF format with a resolution of 800 dpi, or as close to this resolution as possible. In the case of diagrams with lettering (e.g. figures created in Adobe Illustrator) PPT, DOC (Word file) or EPS format should be submitted. Colour figures must be submitted in RGB colourspace. Please do not submit as CMYK. Unacceptable figure formats are: PDF, GIF, PSD, CRD, PCT, XLS, BMP, 123 (or other Lotus formats). Lines and lettering must be large and dense enough to remain legible after the figure is reduced. Text in figures must not be smaller than 6-point Helvetica. Avoid strongly coloured/dark backgrounds. Figure parts should be labelled in capital letters followed by a bracket, e.g. A), B), C). Figures should be referred to in sequence, using "Fig. 1A" or "Figs. 1,2" etc.
Please click here for useful tips on how to improve your figures (including some examples).

Citations and reference list

Depending on the rubric, reference lists should not exceed 120 or 30 entries.Citation of published literature should be indicated by numbers in square brackets at normal text level (not superscript), e.g. "This study [12] showed that ...". Reference list entries should comply with the examples below. Journal titles should be abbreviated in accordance with the USA National Standard abbreviations for journals. For easier formatting of your reference list, get the Endnote file.

Borikova AL, Dibble CF, Sciaky N, WelchCM, et al. 2010. Rho kinase inhibition rescues the endothelial cell cerebral cavernous malformation phenotype. J Biol Chem 285: 11760-4.

Perreten V, Frey J. 2009. Use of a microchip to detect antibiotic resistance genes in Bacillus anthracis. In Kostic T, Butaye P, SchrenzelJ. ed; Detection of highly dangerous pathogens. Wiley-VCH. p 147-152.

If there are more than 4 authors on a paper, use "et al." for the remainder.

Inclusion and citation of unpublished work: This should be kept to a minimum (no more than 2 such citations are permissible). Your own unpublished observations, including results submitted for publication, should be cited as such in the text only, and not in the reference list. Personal communications, i.e. unpublished observations of other scientists, should only be included with written permission from the source.

Keywords and abbreviations

Kewords: Please provide up to 7 keywords/terms that you feel optimally describe the topic(s) of your paper.
Abbreviations: Very common abbreviations such as DNA, RNA, PCR do not need explaining. However, BioEssays' readership is very broad, so abbreviations such as SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) or GPCR (G-protein coupled receptor) should be included in an abbreviations section. All abbreviations that are highly field-specific should be explained in such a section. Gene names need not be included in the abbreviations section, as the full names are often no more informative than the abbreviations. In cases where an abbreviation is used only once or twice in short succession, it need not be included in the list of abbreviations: it is enough to give the full term in the text.

Nomenclature and style

For biochemical nomenclature, refer to the No. 1 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry. EC numbers should accompany citation of all enzymes. SI units should be used throughout in preparation of manuscripts. Genetics nomenclature should follow that used by the Journal Genetics. Gene and species names should be in italic type. Proteins should be in roman type.

Supporting information

Supporting Information can be a useful way to include important but ancillary information with the online version of an article. Examples of Supporting Information include additional tables, data sets, figures, movie files, audio clips, 3D structures, and other related nonessential multimedia files. Supporting Information should be cited within the article text, and a descriptive legend should be included. It is published as supplied by the author, and a proof is not made available prior to publication; for these reasons, authors should provide any Supporting Information in the desired final format. For further information on recommended file types and requirements for submission, please visit: The supporting information page in Author Services.

Tips for revision

Please click here for helpful information on how to shorten your article.


Publication ethics

BioEssays adheres strongly to the guidelines of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). All instances of publishing misconduct, including, but not limited to, plagiarism, data fabrication, image/data manipulation to falsify/enhance results etc. will result in rejection/retraction of the manuscript in question. Authors are also requested to disclose potential conflicts of interest: for example, an author might have commercial involvement (e.g. advise a company, or serve as a director/board member of a company) in the topic on which he/she is writing. Potential conflicts must be stated at the top of the manuscript.

Copyright and permissions

Submission of an article to BioEssays will be taken to imply that the article, or a highly similar version, has not been published elsewhere, has not been submitted for publication elsewhere and will not be submitted until its acceptability has been decided. The author list for a BioEssays article should include only those individuals who have contributed to its writing.
Permissions to use copyright material (including modifications or adaptations of figures) must be obtained from the original author and publisher. Many journals give permission online, but where that is not the case you can use this permission request form.
In order to give Wiley Periodicals, Inc. the authority to deal with matters of copyright, authors will be required to assign to Wiley Periodicals, Inc. the copyright of any article published in BioEssays.Authors must therefore complete a Copyright Transfer Agreement upon acceptance of the manuscript.

Open Access

Online Open is available to authors who - upon publication - wish to make their article available to non-subscribers of the journal. For more information, please click here.