Instructions for manuscript preparation

SEG's publications program helps the Society fulfill its mission of promoting the science of geophysics and the professional development of geoscientists by disseminating information about geophysical research and applications.


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To submit a book proposal to be considered for publication by SEG, please visit Aries System's Editorial Manager site . You may download the book proposal submission worksheet (DOC) to help prepare for online submission.

The guidelines below are intended to facilitate the writing, editing, production, and printing of your manuscript for publication by SEG after your proposal has been accepted by the Books Editorial Board.

After the proposal is complete and submitted for review, the Books Editorial Board will reach a decision within four weeks (six weeks if a complete manuscript is submitted) on whether to pursue publication with the authors or editors. If the proposal is accepted, SEG and the authors or editors will set a schedule for manuscript development, peer-review conducted by an SEG-appointed Volume Editor, revision, and submission for final approval.

An SEG Books Editorial Board member appointed as the work's Managing Editor oversees the work's development from proposal to publication. After the Volume Editor (appointed by the Managing Editor) is satisfied that the work meets high standards of technical accuracy, SEG's Books Editorial Board and Executive Committee must approve the work for publication. Further details about the review, approval, and publication processes are available in the SEG Policies and Procedures Manual (PDF).

You should submit final files for production only after the Volume Editor has declared the manuscript ready for final production. The files you submit should contain the final text, equations, figures, tables, references, etc., prepared as best you can to the specifications described within these instructions. During production, authors and editors work with copy editors to ensure that all content is expressed clearly and is grammatically and stylistically correct; they also examine proofs to help ensure that their expression is conveyed correctly in page composition. Please do not submit manuscripts for production if you intend to alter them significantly, add to them, or to subject them to further peer review. This should occur before final submission.

It is required that, along with the manuscript, you submit proof of permissions you have obtained for reuse of material taken from a copyrighted source. It is a good idea to start permissions gathering early so that your work can proceed to production without delay.

Writing your book

Write to inform. Before beginning to write, organize your material carefully. Include all the data necessary to support your conclusions, but exclude redundant or unnecessary data.

Choose the active voice more often than the passive. The passive usually requires more words and sometimes obscures the meaning. Use the first person, not the third person, and do not use we when I is appropriate.

Prepare a first draft that includes all the data, arguments, and conclusions that you had planned to cover. Then edit your manuscript carefully. Ask yourself whether the reader will find the text clear and the figures thoroughly integrated with the text. Go through this process at least twice, preparing a new draft each time.

When you are satisfied, ask a colleague—preferably someone not well acquainted with the subject matter—to read your draft. Be prepared for criticism. If one reader does not understand parts of your text, others will have the same problem. Remember, you are thoroughly acquainted with your subject, but your reader is not.

How To Write and Publish a Scientific Paper, sixth edition (2006, Greenwood Press), by Robert A. Day and Barbara Gastel, is a useful guide for preparing and organizing a technical paper.

For details on style and usage, such as capitalization, punctuation, etc., refer to the University of Chicago Press' The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition.

The dictionaries you should use are Webster's Third New International Dictionary and Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition.

The Encyclopedic Dictionary of Applied Geophysics, fourth edition, by R. E. Sheriff, is SEG's standard for terms particular to geophysical technology. It also contains the preferred (SI) units and abbreviations for units. A revised version of the fourth edition was published in 2006.

Requirements for your book manuscript

Title page

The title is a label, not a sentence. Choose as few words as possible to describe the contents of the book adequately. Use proper syntax. The first word should be significant and helpful both for classifying and indexing the book. Company names should not be included in the title.

Please provide your full name on the title page, as well as the full name of any coauthor you may have. Please be absolutely sure you have spelled your coauthors' names correctly. Be sure also to use the form of the names that your coauthors prefer. Include only those who take intellectual responsibility for the work being reported, and exclude those who have been involved only peripherally. The author list should not be used in lieu of an acknowledgments section.

Figures, tables, and equations

Each figure and table must be called out (mentioned) sequentially in the text of the book. Each figure must have a caption, and each table must have a heading. Captions and headings should be explicit enough that the reader can understand the significance of the illustration or table without reference to the text.

Each illustration and table should be given an Arabic number and should be referred to by that number in the text. In the caption and text, spell out the word Figure and capitalize it when a number follows it. In table headings and text, spell out the word Table and capitalize it when a number follows it.

Figures, tables, and equations should be numbered beginning with Figure 1, Table 1, and equation 1 in each chapter, i.e., Chapter 1 has Figure 1, Figure 2, Table 1, Table 2, equation 1, equation 2, etc. Do not number figures, tables, and equations with a prefix of the chapter number, i.e., Figure 1-1, Table 1-1, equation 1-1, etc. See below for instructions for numbering figures, tables, and equations in appendices.


Footnotes should be avoided unless absolutely essential and then should be held to a minimum. All footnotes introduced in the text of a book should be numbered consecutively from beginning to end of the manuscript. In the manuscript, each footnote must be inserted at the bottom of the page where the reference appears.


If the author includes an acknowledgments section, it is placed after the conclusion and before the appendices (if any) and reference list (if the reference list is at the end of the entire book rather than at the end of each chapter).


An appendix should not be cited in the text in such a way that the appendix is essential to a reader's understanding of the flow of the main text. See section 1.82 in The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, for further explanation of the content of an appendix. Each appendix should be called out (mentioned) sequentially in the text by name, i.e., "Appendix A."

Each appendix should have a substantive title such as "Appendix A—Mathematical considerations." In each appendix, number equations and figures beginning with 1: A-1, B-1, etc.

Appendices are placed after acknowledgments and before the reference list.

Reference list

The reference list is placed last in a manuscript, after the acknowledgments and appendices (if any). See the "References" section under "Manuscript Preparation" below for details on reference style.

Acceptable form of the manuscript

The manuscript should be submitted in Microsoft Word, with multilevel or other complicated equations in MathType 5.1 or later. However, single-line equations and math symbols within the text should be built with the font used in the text, with italic or bold as necessary.

In addition to digital files, you must submit at least two hard copies of the entire manuscript, including figures, tables, appendices, and references, formatted according to the instructions below. For color figures, submit color hard copy. For grayscale or black-and-white figures, submit grayscale or black and white.

Be sure the hard copy matches the digital files exactly.

Manuscript preparation

Spacing and paragraphs

Manuscripts must be double-spaced in 12-point type. Double-space all parts of the manuscript, including the footnotes, quoted material, references, and figure captions. Each paragraph must be indented.

Page numbers

Page numbers must appear on all pages of text, including references, figure captions, and tables.

Page length, line width, and margins

Each page should have no more than 30 lines of type, with no line exceeding six (6) inches in length. Ample margins should be left at the top, bottom, and sides.


It is necessary for you to distinguish the categories of headings in your manuscript so your intentions will be clear to the editors and typesetters. Please follow the guidelines below.

  • Place principal headings (Category 1 heads) at the center of the page in capital letters.
  • Place Category 2 heads at the left margin (without indentation) in boldface type, with only the first word of the heading and proper nouns capitalized. Start the text that follows on the next line and indent it.
  • Place Category 3 heads at the left margin (without indentation) in italics, with only the first word of the heading and proper nouns capitalized. Start the text that follows on the next line and indent it.

If headings of still lower rank are necessary, indent, underline (or italicize), place a period and dash after the heading, and follow with text on the same line.

Do not number sections of the text. Refer to sections by name or content, e.g., "Discussion on deconvolution."

Figures and tables

In the manuscript, figures should not be embedded in the text but should be collected at the end of the manuscript, with each figure on a separate page (see the section "Preparation of Illustrations"). Figure captions should be listed on a separate sheet at the end of the manuscript.

Tables should not be included within the text but should follow the manuscript, with each table in a separate digital file. Other types of lists may be run within the text.

Examples of style for terms

air gun*
audio frequency*
back projection*
band limited*
CDP (common depth point)
CMP (common midpoint)
CRP (common reflection point)
cross section*
data set
finite difference*
f-k filter
free space*
high resolution*
least squares*
plane wave*
Q filter
rms (root mean square)
seismic (adj.)
seismics (n.)
time slice*
wave stack
wave test
wide band*

* Hyphenate as an adjective; e.g., finite-difference method.

Examples of style in text

  • Use American English spelling, e.g., modeling, color, analyze, behavior, etc.
  • Each sentence must begin with a capital letter. Lowercase Greek letters, mathematical symbols, or numerals may not be used to begin a sentence.
  • Use a semicolon before the adverbial conjunctions however, thus, hence, therefore, etc., in compound sentences.
  • Use a semicolon between independent clauses not joined by a conjunction.
  • Do not use a colon when an equation or list comes immediately after a verb or preposition.
  • Operator symbols serve as verbs.
  • Equations are punctuated as sentences and should be numbered.
  • The abbreviations et al., i.e., and e.g. are set off with commas, except when et al. is used in a text reference. In that case only, the preceding comma is omitted.
  • Extensive use of italics in text is discouraged; use them only for the most necessary emphasis.
  • Do not use italics for foreign and Latin words that have become common in English usage, e.g., a priori, et al. Check Webster's Third New International Dictionary or Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition, to determine if the term is in common English usage.
  • Use quotation marks to refer to a special term only the first time the term appears.
  • Hyphens are not generally used in words formed with prefixes; e.g., antisymmetric, multidip, nonlinear, semimajor, subbottom, prestack, poststack, pseudosection, etc. Check Webster's Third New International Dictionary or Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition.
  • Hyphens are not used between adverbs ending in ly and the words they modify, e.g., horizontally layered.
  • Do not use newly invented acronyms or trade names to describe your technique. Widely used trade names that appear in the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Applied Geophysics, fourth edition (e.g., microlog), are acceptable.
  • Use symbols for percent (%) and degree (°) in the text as well as in mathematical expressions, tables, or figures.
  • Spell out points of the compass, e.g., east-west, north-northwest.
  • In a series of three or more items, a comma (or a semicolon, where appropriate) follows each item, including the one that precedes and.

Examples of style for units

Physical quantities should be expressed in SI units. When field measurements were obtained or equipment was specified with different units, the value of non-SI units can be specified in parentheses following the SI units, e.g., 2200 m/s (7200 ft/s). Do not carry more significant figures in the unit conversion than in the original measurement. For example, note that 7200 ft/s converts to 2200 m/s, not 2195 m/s.

All of the following conform to SI metric standards:

s for second
â?¦m or ohm-m for ohm-meter
S/m for siemens/meter
Hz as unit, hertz as word
A as unit, ampere as word
F as unit, farad as word
H as unit, henry as word
V as unit, volt as word
J as unit, joule as word
N as unit, newton as word
W as unit, watt as word
Pa as unit, pascal as word
m/s for meter per second (not ms-1)
1000 for 1,000
times sign (×) instead of dot for multiplication
space between number and unit (10 m, not 10m)
mGal (not mgal) for abbreviation, milligal for word
ms for millisecond
GHz for gigahertz
MHz for megahertz
kHz for kilohertz
cm for centimeter
mm for millimeter
µm for micrometer
µs for microsecond
nm for nanometer
pm for picometer

The exceptions to SI units listed below are acceptable if non-SI units follow them in parentheses:

bar as pressure unit
darcy as permeability unit
gamma as magnetic-field intensity unit

Mathematical material

One of the most complicated and expensive operations in publishing is typesetting mathematical formulas. In typesetting, some rerendering of equations may occur. However, every effort is made to ensure that all mathematical symbols and terms appear in the galley proof just as the author created them. You can help reduce these costs by writing equations in their simplest forms. Often, a complicated expression can be simplified if various terms are assigned symbols that are defined individually. For some good examples, see the paper by Nelson in Geophysics, 53, 1088–1095 (PDF).

Fractional exponents should be used instead of radicals wherever feasible. Radicals are preferred, however, for simple square roots, e.g., rather than 21/2.

When there is any doubt that subscripts and superscripts will be clear to the typesetter, they should be indicated by carets and inverted carets, for example,

  Caret example

To standardize space and time coordinates, use lowercase letters x, y, z for Cartesian space coordinates. Designate corresponding axes by x-axis, y-axis, and z-axis, and designate the time coordinate by t. To represent traveltime and finite changes in traveltime, use t and â??t rather than T and â??T. All axis coordinates on figures must be indicated and should be consistent with the text.

Equations that cannot be placed on one line must be broken only at the operator symbols. The sign should be placed at the start of the second line.

Terms in equations are grouped with the following symbols: parentheses ( ), brackets [ ], and braces {}. For example, X = {2R + [(k + 1)(k + 2)]2}1/2.

The typesetter is instructed to set all mathematical symbols and all isolated letters in the text in italic type, if there are no markings to the contrary. Use italics for all symbols for scalar quantities, including those represented by Greek letters. Please note that vectors are set in boldface lowercase roman (regular) letters, whereas matrices and tensors are set in boldface capital roman letters. Uppercase boldface letters also may be used for vectors, and lowercase boldface letters may be used for tensors, if such use is customary. Different fonts may be used to further distinguish scalars, vectors, tensors, and matrices.

Here are some ways you can facilitate the processing of your manuscript: (1) Set all letters (including Greek) representing scalar quantities in italics. Do not use italics for such items as sin, cos, max, min, etc. Do not use italics for letters representing units of measurement: ms, ft, etc. (2) Set all vector quantities in bold lowercase except as otherwise noted, as in the case of electromagnetic fields.

All displayed equations should be numbered sequentially throughout the chapter. When referring to an equation in text, please identify it with a phrase that could serve to identify the type of equations, as shown in the following example:

Without phrase: "inserting equations 5 and 6 into equation 9 ..."

With phrase: "inserting the form, equation 5, of the electric field E and the Lindhard form, equation 6, of the dielectric function e
into the constitutive equation 9 ..."

Equation numbers in the text should not be shown in parentheses, e.g., "As shown in equation 10." (However, the equation number at the right margin of the column should be enclosed in parentheses.) A mention of the equation number in the text must be accompanied by equation, expression, or another synonym to identify the number itself. Equations in Appendix A should be numbered with the prefix A-, e.g., "equation A-1." Equations should be punctuated as sentences or parts of sentences. Please consult The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, sections 14.22–14.24, for correct punctuation of equations.

For complicated and detailed mathematical material, authors are encouraged to include a table to define their mathematical symbols. Authors are also strongly encouraged to place complicated and detailed mathematics in appendices.


Authors are requested to be meticulous in following instructions for references. Accuracy and proper form are essential. Authors who do not follow guidelines for references can expect a delay in publication because the time, effort, and communication necessary to resolve incomplete references are considerable.

Citation of previous work acknowledges the importance of those investigations and makes available to the reader much more background information than is practical to include in a single manuscript. However, to be of real value, all references must be readily accessible to the reader. If internal reports with wide circulation constitute an important reference, cite them in the text but not in the reference list, e.g., (G. M. Levy, 1984, Geonics Ltd. Tech., note TN-16). Similarly, citations of personal communications, including material submitted for publication but not yet accepted, may be placed in the text but not in the reference list. Cite personal communications with initial(s), surname, and year, e.g. (J. Smith, personal communication, 2006).

In the text, literature citations should show the author's name followed by the year of publication in parentheses, e.g., Smith (2006). If the author's name is not referred to in the text, it and the year should be inserted in parentheses at the point where the reference applies: (Smith, 2006).

If there is more than one reference to the same author at a given point in the text, list the years in chronological order with a comma and space between. When more than one author is referenced at a given point in the text, separate the references by a semicolon and a space. If a specific page is referenced, include the page number within the parentheses, after the year (Smith, 2006, p. 142).

References should be grouped alphabetically under the heading "References" at the end of the chapter or the end of the book, after the acknowledgments and appendices (if any). References should be alphabetized according to sections 16.81–16.83 in The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, i.e., a single-author work precedes a multiauthor work beginning with the same author's name. For a given author referenced more than once for the same year, use the suffixes a, b, etc., after the year of publication to distinguish references. References with identical authorship should be listed in chronological order.

Material in preparation, submitted, or not yet accepted and scheduled for publication should not be included in the references. Material accepted for publication may be cited as a reference if its publication date has been established, but it will be necessary to double-check the status of the material before your book is published. If the material has not yet been published, it should be cited only as a personal communication.

References not cited in the text should not be included in the reference list unless the paper is of a survey or tutorial nature. Under such circumstances, those references should be grouped separately under the heading "References for General Reading."

In the reference list, the form and punctuation shown in the examples below will be observed. Please note especially that (1) SEG no longer abbreviates titles of journals and names of institutions and publishers and (2) initials of secondary authors' names precede surnames.

For types of references not included below, follow the guidelines for author-date citations in The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition.

Papers from journals

Kosloff, D. D., and E. Baysal, 1982, Forward modeling by a Fourier method: Geophysics, 47, 1402–1412.
Rouse, W. C., A. J. Reading, and R. P. D. Walsh, 1986, Volcanic soil properties in Dominica, West Indies: Engineering Geology, 23, 1–28.
Guitton, A., 2005, Multiple attenuation in complex geology with a pattern-based approach: Geophysics, 70, no. 5, V97–V107.

Capitalize only the first word of the title and proper nouns. Do not use quotation marks unless they are actually part of the title. Do not underline or use italics. Show the volume numbers in bold, omit the issue number, and show beginning and ending page numbers or article numbers if the journal does not use page numbers. For references to Geophysics papers since the beginning of 2005, however, include the issue number after the volume number.

Papers from magazines

Castagna, J. P., 1993, Petrophysical imaging using AVO: The Leading Edge, 12, 172–179.

Follow the instructions for papers from journals. If each issue of the magazine begins with page 1, include the issue number after the volume number, e.g., no. 3.


Davis, P. J., and P. Rabinowitz, 1975, Methods of numerical integration: Academic Press Inc.

Follow the instructions for papers from journals. Reference the full name of the publisher. Do not reference the city of publication or the number of pages in the book.

Articles in books

Baker, D. W., and N. L. Carter, 1972, Seismic velocity anisotropy calculated for ultramafic minerals and aggregates, in H. C. Heard, I. V. Borg, N. L. Carter, and C. B. Raleigh, eds., Flow and fracture of rocks: American Geophysical Union Geophysical Monographs 16, 157–166.

Theses and dissertations

Lodha, G. S., 1974, Quantitative interpretation of airborne electromagnetic response for a spherical model: M.S. thesis, University of Toronto.

Reference to a thesis or dissertation requires neither the name of the department nor the number of pages.


Zhou, B., 1992, Discussion on: "The use of Hartley transform in geophysical applications," R. Saatcilar, S. Ergintav, and N. Canitez, authors: Geophysics, 57, 196–197.

Electronic material

Hellman, H., 1998, Great feuds in science: Ten of the liveliest disputes ever: John Wiley & Sons, e-book.

Electronic journal citation with access date

Mungall, J. E., and J. J. Hanley, 2004, Origins of outliers of the Huronian Super group within the Sudbury Structure: Journal of Geology, 112, 59–70, accessed March 20, 2006;


Shindell, D., G. Faluvegi, N. Bell, and G. Schmidt, 2005, An emissions-based view of climate forcing by methane and tropospheric ozone: Geophysical Research Letters, 32, L04803, accessed March 31, 2006;;

Web site (or part of Web site)

Roemmich, D., 1990, Sea-level change,, accessed July 14, 2003.

References to electronic material should include (1) the standard information, (2) the format (e-book, CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, etc.), and (3) the date of access if it is an online source. If an online-only source has a DOI, the DOI must be used to cite it.

Oral presentations that are not published in a    
proceedings or abstract volume

Hubbard, T. P., 1979, Deconvolution of surface recorded data using vertical seismic profiles: Presented at the 49th Annual International Meeting, SEG.

Do not include city.

Expanded abstracts

Constable, S. C., 1986, Offshore electromagnetic surveying techniques: 56th Annual International Meeting, SEG, Expanded Abstracts, 81–82.

References to proceedings of many conferences are appropriate only if these proceedings are generally available to the reader. Authors are requested to avoid such references to material of limited availability. The SEG Expanded Abstracts do qualify as references because of their general accessibility.


Williams, K. E., 2007, Method and system for combining seismic data and basin modeling: U. S. Patent 7 280 918.

After name, indicate the year the patent was granted.

Preparation of illustrations

The abscissa and ordinate of each graph should be labeled, and units should be denoted in parentheses. A title heading for each graph is encouraged; the first letter of graph labels should be capitalized; and the graph's style, font, and format should be consistent with other figures. Be sure lettering within figures is legible and is not too large or too small. Labels on vertical axes should read from bottom to top when the page is held vertically (from left to right when you rotate the page clockwise 90Ë?). All graph labels should use the same eight-point sans-serif font. Manuscripts may be delayed or rejected if these illustration guidelines are not followed.

The body of illustrations should not contain titles or other textual material that can be placed in the caption. Exceptions to this rule will be considered only when clarity demands. Use standard abbreviations in labeling scales (see the above section "Examples of style for units").

To ensure high-quality reproduction, authors should make a diligent effort to provide the best possible illustrations.

All illustrations must be submitted in electronic format. Illustrations must meet the following specifications:

All illustrations must be submitted in Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) or TIFF format with color and grayscale images at a resolution of at least 300 dots per inch (dpi) and line art of at least 600 dpi (1200 dpi is preferred). Submit each figure in a separate digital file, named according to the figure number. Do not embed figures in documents. Do not submit figures in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, or Canvas. Canvas files, especially the earlier versions of Canvas, are not stable when converted to the format necessary for printing. This can necessitate time-consuming and expensive manipulations. PowerPoint, which is designed for audiovisual presentations, is not suitable for high-quality printing.

If a figure contains material that has been scanned into it, the scan must be at least 300 dpi also to meet quality standards for printing.

Below are examples of the same figure in low resolution, unsuitable for publication, and in high resolution, suitable for publication.

Please do not produce figures by making straightforward screen dumps of the graphic output of a software package. This usually results in unnecessary decorations, gray background, unreadable axes and labels, overlapping labels, or low resolution. If the software has no other way of generating graphic output, high-resolution screen-dump images are allowed as part of the figures if unnecessary details are removed, proper axes and labels are added, and consistent formats are used for similar figures.

The author's last name and the figure number should be included in the margin of each figure for identification. Indicate the correct orientation of the printed figure. Use an upward-pointing arrow to show orientation.

Color figures must be formatted using CMYK (cyan-magenta-yellow-black), not RGB (red-green-blue). Grayscale or black-and-white figures must be submitted in grayscale or black and white.

Permission to reprint figures and tables

Authors are responsible for obtaining permission to use figures and tables previously published in other books or journals. Letters from the copyright holders granting permission should accompany the manuscript. It is also the responsibility of the author to check reproduced materials against the originals for absolute accuracy.

Low resolution figure
Sample figure at low resolution

High resolution figure
Sample figure at high resolution



Please contact Susan Stamm (+1.918.497.4638) for questions you may have related to the submission and production processes.

Checklist to avoid common mistakes:

  • Is the entire manuscript double-spaced?
  • Are all pages numbered?
  • Have I followed the style instructions for the reference list?
  • Have I followed the instructions for labeling figures?
  • Does each figure appear on a separate page and are the figures grouped at the end of the manuscript?
  • Is a separate list of figure captions included?
  • Have I properly numbered equations and followed%2

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