Does your article address these important issues?

(special thanks to Svend Bram for the very useful references)

I often need to review articles and give feedback on them. I find my feedback is most efficient when I can focus on the content (results, figures, etc) and the flow of the article. These aspects of the article are what interest the first author most, even if he or she is also happy to get a review of the typos or other secondary problems. Yet, more often than not, many of my comments are about things that can be more or less automatised. This post is a checklist for the common problems I encounter. It is intended to be used by anyone how would like to remove the noise from these secondary problems so that you get a review on the biggest issues of your article.

To get started, you might want to check the post on \LaTeX.

Italics for math and symbols

The main rule is quite easy to remember: you only need to italicise when you refer to a variable, e.g. x or y

If you keep that in mind, you should understand that the following examples have problems

\emph{sin x}\dfrac{dx}{dt}\displaystyle\int U_{avg}dS

The correct way to write those would be

\sin x\dfrac{\mathrm{d}x}{\mathrm{d}t}\displaystyle\int U_\mathrm{avg}\mathrm{d}S

\sin x
\int U_\mathrm{avg}\mathrm{d}S

There is a much easier way to write it correctly: use the commath package.

Here is a more complicated expression following the rule:
F = \displaystyle\sum_{i=1}^n m a_\mathrm{g}\ [\mathrm{N}]
Did you spot the roman type for “g” and “N”? Here “g” is the gravitational acceleration, since it is a constant (and not a variable), it should not be italicised. “N” is a unit and again it is not a variable.

Last but not least, and still following the same rule, use the \mathrm command whenever you write some text in the equation.


  • Use \citeauthor{bibtexRef} to put the name of the authors of a reference properly. It  will sort out how and when to put the most famous authors: “et al.”
  • When using the \cite command, make sure it is connected to the previous word to avoid the [3] at the beginning of the line. This can be done with the tilde “~” or unbreakable space.
Some important findings have shown this~\cite{paperID}.
  • BibTex will not understand upper case letters. To make sure the acronym in the title of your paper does write properly, use brackets in your BibTex manager (I use BibDesk):
Title: Study of fuel compatibility with the {HCCI} engine.


In another post, I strongly advise you to use the siunitx package, which solves most of the problem referred here. From this webpage, I extracted those which might go through the crack:

  • Only use official unit symbols (e.g. s or kg) or names (e.g. second or kilogram).
  • When expressing quantities, only use symbols: 5 kg


  • When using i.e. or e.g., \LaTeX add a full stop after the last do and an extra space indicating the beginning of a new sentence. To avoid that, use the following
% you can also define macros
  • When you write a list of three or more items, use the serial comma (the one just before and the following example):
My method is better because it is cheaper, more elegant, and mine.


Most of the content written in this post has been extracted from three webpages: