Rules for Writing a PRL
The use of the casting copy
rules are be described below.
The basic idea is that the work should be understandably completely in
terms of the Figures and their Captions. (Occasionally Tables and their
Captions are also necessary.) As with any principle it appears to have
exceptions but doesn't. With this in mind, here are the rules for writing
an effective PRL to the prescribed length (425 lines).
- Prepare the figures first; they must carry the load. Remember
that they will in most cases be 3 3/8" wide, so narrow or square
figures work best. All lettering must be high enough so that upon
reduction it will be 2-3 mm. You can easily squeeze in much
information with lettering; this will enable the figure to stand on its
own. There is no limit to the number of figures. But usually it is
hard to include more than four.
- Next do the figure captions. The editorial style of the figure
captions is as follows, the first "sentence" of a caption is not a
sentence but a label (i.e., no verb). All subsequent sentences must be
sentences (i.e., subject, verb, and object). The Figure with its
Caption should be able to stand on its own. Don't say that important
things can be found in the text.
- Tables are the next item. Here you must pick and choose in order
to prove your point(s); again the caption can help in telling the
- Equations. (This is mainly for theorists). Prepare your
equations. Never redefine a symbol. Don't use more than 12
equations. Work on their form until the equations are transparent;
every symbol has an obvious meaning.
- References. Make a serious estimate of what references you will
use. Multiply by 1.40 to account for footnotes and omissions.
- Now "copy cast." Use the rules on the back to calculate items 1-11
(on the back). Then the number of lines available for the text = 425 -
- If the number of available text lines is less than 100, you are
probably trying to squeeze too much in. Think about removing one
figure or redrawing them. Before you start writing, plan your major
points; if some of them are not in the figures or tables, ask yourself
if they could be.
- The general rule of writing is: tell'em what you are going to
tell'em; then tell'em; finally tell'em what you told them. In PRL this
means that within the first three paragraphs you must present, as
specifically as possible, the basic results of your work. This is not
the same as the abstract which is a stand-alone specific description of
the paper. The summary at the end is a chance to put the work in
- Finally PRL requires you write a brief introduction (1-2
paragraphs) that sets your work in a context so that the general
readers (i.e., not in your specialty) can figure why they should be
interested in your paper. In writing, be pecific. Avoid the
passive voice. Use short, single-idea paragraphs.
Your comments and
suggestions are appreciated.
[Onepager Home Page]
[Writing Handouts Home
Edited by: email@example.com [August 1997]