Manuscript Structure, Style, and Content Guidelines

Updated 03/12/2024

Manuscripts must be submitted in the style of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th edition, with the exception that figures and tables should be embedded within the main text near to where they are discussed rather than at the end of the manuscript. Other considerations regarding elements of Psychological Science submissions can be found below. 

The structure described here applies to all articles with the relevant sections.


The abstract should be on a separate page and be no longer than 150 words. Five to seven relevant keywords should be listed directly under the abstract on the same page.

Research Transparency Statement

The Research Transparency Statement should be a separate section of the manuscript, inserted between the Abstract and the Introduction section. It does not count towards word limits. See the submission guidelines for more information.


The introduction should explain the rationale behind the current study, placing the research topic and study within the context of the current research landscape. Authors should critically review previous research relevant to the current study and highlight the gap in knowledge being filled by the present research. The introduction should clearly pose the research question, and describe how it will be tested.


This section (or sections: e.g., Participants, Materials, Procedure) should contain a clear and concise description and, when needed, justification of the methods and procedures used in the study, as well as the analytical tools or methodology used. All excluded observations, all independent variables/manipulations and their levels or conditions, and all dependent variables/measures must be reported. Authors should give a justification of the sample size with attention to statistical power or precision for all key tests. If the study was preregistered, all major deviations from the preregistered plan, or decisions that were not specified in the preregistration, should be reported (these can be summarized in a table, see the “Preregistration” section of the submission guidelines). If the study was not preregistered, this should be reported.


Results for all measures and all research questions should be reported in a concise, straightforward manner, using tables or figures when appropriate. Duplication of information that is presented in tables or figures should be minimal in the text, and results should be reported in the text or tables, rather than figure captions. Authors should include effect sizes accompanied by 95% confidence intervals or other measures of uncertainty. Authors should be particularly attentive to APA style when reporting statistical details (e.g., Ns for chi-square tests, formatting of dfs).


This section should discuss the findings in the context of the research question initially posed and the current research landscape. The Discussion should also thoroughly consider the limitations of the research and how these limitations affect the conclusions that can be drawn, including, but not limited to, constraints on the generality of the findings. The Discussion should also explore the broader implications and significance of the findings, while keeping in mind the limitations..

A Note on Manuscripts Presenting Multiple Studies: For some Research Articles that include multiple studies, an alternate structure might be appropriate, e.g., general introduction – Study 1 introduction – Method – Results – Discussion – Study 2 introduction – Method – Results – Discussion – etc. – General Discussion. Authors who choose to structure their manuscript in this manner should note that Results and Discussion sections for each study should not be combined; a combined Results and Discussion section will be treated simply as a Discussion section and will be counted toward the word limit.


Every citation in the text should be listed in the reference list, and vice versa.  Note that online sources should be cited in the same manner as print sources (i.e., author and date in parentheses).  Be sure to cite sources for all software and include full reference information. References should be formatted in accordance with APA style. Relevant examples:

Journal article:

Russano, M. B., Meissner, C. A., Narchet, F. M., & Kassin, S. M. (2005). Investigating true and false confessions within a novel experimental paradigm. Psychological Science, 16(6), 481–486.

Authored book:

Krumhansl, C. L. (1990). Cognitive foundations of musical pitch. Oxford University Press.

Chapter in edited book:

Mazziotta, J. C., Toga, A. W., & Friston, K. J. (2000). Experimental design and statistical issues. In J. C. Mazziotta & A. W. Toga (Eds.), Brain mapping: The disorders (pp. 33–58). Academic Press.

Source with 21 or more authors:

Kalnay, E., Kanamitsu, M., Kistler, R., Collins, W, Deaven, D., Gandin, L., Iredell, M., Saha, S., White, G., Woollen, J., Zhu, Y., Chelliah, M., Ebisuzaki, W, Higgins, W, Janowiak, J., Mo, K. c., Ropelewski, c., Wang, J., Leetmaa, A., . . . Joseph, D. (1996). The NCEP/NCAR 40-year reanalysis project. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 77(3), 437–471.<0437:TNYRP>2.0.CO;2

Online source:

Nelson, D. L., McEvoy, C. L., & Schreiber, T. A. (1998). The University of South Florida word association, rhyme, and word fragment norms.


R Core Team. (2021). R: A language and environment for statistical computing (Version 4.1.0) [Computer software]. Retrieved from

Tables should be editable. If tables are created in Word, authors should use the tables function rather than using tabs to separate columns. There should be no empty rows or columns. Column heads cannot change partway down a table; in such cases, the new heads and the data under them must be placed in a separate table, with its own title. Tables should be embedded near to where they are discussed in the text. Example:

Table 1.
Title of Table 1

Stub column headColumn head 2Column head 3aStraddle head 1Straddle head 2Column head 8
Column head 4Column head 5Column head 6Column head 7
Row head 1
                Row 1 label.
                Row 2 label.
                Row 3 label.
Row head 2
                Row 4 label.1*.0.0.3**.0.0.0
                Row 5 label.
                Row 6 label.
                Row 7 label.

Note: [Explanatory notes that apply to the entire table or large sections of the table go here. Explanations of all abbreviations and symbols used (except symbols indicating statistical significance) also go in this note.]
a[Specific notes that apply to a particular column, row, or cell entry are called out by letters a, b, etc.]
*p < .05. **p < .01. [If asterisks (or daggers) are used to indicate results of tests of significance, the symbols are explained here.]

Other considerations:

  • Tables must be numbered in the order in which they are referred to in the text.
  • All tables must be referred to in the text, and the text needs to give a full indication of the information that is included in every table. For example, if a table presents results of multiple statistical tests, the text must refer to them all, whether in a general way or individually. The full scope of a table can be indicated all at once or cumulatively by multiple references to the table.

For original submissions, figures should be embedded near to where they are discussed in the text. For revisions, authors should also submit separate production-quality figures. For a graph or other line art, we ask that authors submit a computer file in the native file format, which is the format of the program in which the figure was originally created. For example, if you created a graph in Excel, supply the original Excel file rather than an Excel file embedded in a Word document. Photographic images such as brain scans or photos of the experimental setup should be submitted in standard image formats, like JPEG. To avoid images appearing blurry or pixelated in print, use a minimum resolution of 300 pixels per inch (PPI; more information about pixel density can be found here). Do not submit images in TIFF format.

Please adhere to the following format when naming figure files: AuthorLastNameFigX.fileformat (e.g., SmithFig1.xls, SmithFig2.jpg, etc.). More details can be found in the APS Figure Format and Style Guidelines.

Figure Captions

Figure captions should be provided in the main text document; they should not be included in the figure files.  Each caption should begin with “Fig.” and then the appropriate number, followed by a period (e.g., “Fig. 1.”). The text of the caption begins on a separate line.

A caption should be concise and describe only what is shown in the figure itself. Results should not be summarized. Each caption should begin with a sentence fragment that serves as a title and covers the entire content of the figure (not just selected panels), at least in a general way. All the text following this fragment should be in complete sentences.

Other considerations:

  • A caption should be clear by itself. That is, a reader should be able to understand the figure without referring elsewhere. However, if providing a complete explanation would be too cumbersome, the caption can instead refer readers to the text or another figure or table.
  • References to panel letters in a caption should be in parentheses and, if possible, precede the relevant text: for example, “Reaction times in (a) Experiment 1 and (b) Experiment 2 as a function of experimental condition.” Do not begin a caption or a sentence in a caption with a panel letter. 
  • If a figure includes error bars, the caption must explain what they represent (e.g., 95% confidence intervals).
  • Treat each caption as a separate entity: Spell out all abbreviations on first use and cite all references as initial citations (in regard to using “et al.”). An abbreviation used in a figure must be explained in the caption.
  • The caption should not repeat information that is included in a key within the figure (e.g., that dashed lines are used for a particular experimental condition).
  • There is no requirement for a figure that contains multiple panels to have panel letters. If panel letters are used, they are always lowercase letters, and they must be referred to in the caption.
  • Figures must be numbered in the order in which they are referred to in the text.
  • All figures must be referred to in the text, and the text needs to give a full indication of the information that is included in every figure. For example, if a figure has two panels, the text cannot refer to only one of them (but the text does not have to call out each panel separately—e.g., if Fig. 1. has panels (a) and (b), the text can refer to Fig. 1 as a whole). The full scope of a figure can be indicated all at once or cumulatively by multiple references to the figure.
  • If a figure has asterisks to indicate significance, the caption should explain them (i.e., what was tested and what p value is indicated by a single asterisk, two asterisks, etc.). Unlike in a table, this explanation should be incorporated into a complete sentence.

In Manuscript/Main Text File

__Abstract (150 words or less)

__Research Transparency Statement (following the template)

__Text organized according to above guidelines

__Tables formatted according to guidelines (using the tables function in Word)

__Tables and figures embedded near to where they are discussed in main text

__Captions in main document rather than in figure files

__References formatted in APA style

Other Submission Files

__Separate figure files (revisions)

__Supplemental Files