Suggestions to authors of the reports of the United States Geological Survey




Knowledge acquired by the Geological Survey through programs of research and investigations has no value to the public if it remains in office files or in the minds of the scientists and engineers who did the work. The full discharge of the Survey's responsibilities is attained only by making its acquired knowledge available promptly and effectively to all people who will find it of interest and use. And, to insure effectiveness, reports must be not only accurate but so clearly and simply written that they are easy to read and understand.

Efforts by the Geological Survey to attain high quality in reports are necessarily group efforts. The largest contribution is made by the author, who has assembled facts, has worked out ideas to explain them, and has a direct personal interest in making the facts and ideas clearly and effectively known. The Geological Survey encourages that interest, recognizing that it is an essential ingredient of the high morale of the members of the Survey. Authors should keep in mind, however, that the Survey has a proprietary interest in all their manuscript reports and as proprietor may dispose of the reports, or require that they be changed before publication, as it sees fit. The Survey generally exercises its proprietary interest only to the extent of seeing that a report is scientifically and technically sound, will reach the proper audience, and will reflect credit on both the Survey and the author. To these ends, each report is reviewed by the author's fellow workers, supervisors, and staff officials, who bring to bear upon it their specialized knowledge, skill, judgement to assure a sound product. In its final form each Survey report is that product of team effort in which many persons do their share -- even though most of them remain anonymous.

There is no easy way to prepare reports of high quality, any more than there is an easy means of carrying out research to sure and outstanding conclusions. Each task calls for intensive thinking and for preserving work. The author bears the primary responsibility and correspondingly faces the most difficult task. To aid him is the chief purpose of this volume.

The subject matter of this volume is arranged under several principal headings. First, a summary is given of the Survey's publications: the historical basis for them, statistics as to what has been issued in the periods 1879-1957, and a list and description of the several series of reports and maps in which material is being published. Next are outlined successive steps that the author will normally take from the start of a project to his final proofreading of the text and illustrations. Under the third broad heading is brought together much detailed information about the form and content of reports. The fourth part of this volume is devoted to advice on expression -- what to seek and what to avoid. A fifth major part of this volume bears on the most common questions of typographic style that affect Survey publications. The final sections of the volume give instructions for typing manuscript copy and correcting the galley and page proofs; also they include a few useful tables and a discussion of the purpose and content of press releases.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Unnumbered Series
Suggestions to authors of the reports of the United States Geological Survey
Fifth Edition
Year Published:
U.S. Government Printing Office
Publisher location:
Washington, D.C.
xii, 255 p.
Online Only (Y/N):
Additional Online Files (Y/N):