Author Guidelines for PLOS LaTeX Submissions

Thank you for your interest in submitting your work to PLOS. This document will help you prepare your LaTeX formatted manuscript. Part of the production process includes the use of automated utilities to convert your LaTeX manuscript into our publishing format. In order for the conversion process to go as smoothly as possible, please limit the use of non-standard LaTeX packages and formatting.

This document is not intended to teach authors how to create manuscripts using LaTeX. This document does contain information on how to best prepare your LaTeX manuscript for PLOS. Use the Author Guidelines and this document to properly format your manuscript for submission to PLOS.

Initial Submission

Upload the PDF as your Article File, containing your manuscript text, references, figure legends and tables. Please do not include graphics in your article file; they should be uploaded separately.

If your submission is accepted, you will be asked to upload your LaTeX source file. Please upload your .tex file as your "LaTeX Source file (TEX file)." If your manuscript .tex is separated into several .tex files, please combine these into a single, cohesive .tex file before submission. Please also update your PDF Article File with the most recent PDF version of your article. As stated in the PLOS template, your references should be included in your .tex file (not submitted separately as .bib or .bbl).

Figures Files

Images (figures) should not be included in the manuscript PDF, please submit these as separate TIFF or EPS files (see below for exception). Figures containing multiple panels (subfigures) should be uploaded as a single file; please do not upload each panel/subfigure separately and instead combine these into a cohesive image.

PLOS does not accept vector EPS figures generated using LaTeX. We only accept LaTeX generated figures in TIFF format. Export your LaTeX files as PDFs, and then open them in GIMP or Photoshop and save as TIFF. In general, Figures must be generated in a standalone graphics application such as Adobe Illustrator, InkScape, PyMol, MatLab, SAS, etc. Please see our Figure Guidelines for more information.

Note: When a LaTeX paper begins the production process, your .tex file will be validated to ensure that the integrity of PLOS template has been maintained. This validation process helps to reduce conversion errors and the length of time it takes to publish the paper. If you have not followed the template format, your manuscript may be sent back to you for corrections.

Manuscript Preparation in LaTeX

LaTeX Version

You are required to use LaTeX2e. If you do not have the latest version of LaTeX, you can download it from a number of sites including

PLOS Provided Files

  • plos_template.tex: For your convenience, PLOS provides a template for LaTeX submissions. Use this template file as an empty framework for your submission. Do NOT change or remove elements from the template.
  • plos2009.bst: BibTeX style sheet. Use this file to specify the formatting of your BibTeX file. This will ensure that your references are generated in the correct format.

LaTeX Formatting Best Practices

Below are some "best practices" for preparing your LaTeX manuscript. These guidelines are to help ensure proper conversion of your LaTeX paper and reduce the possibility of delays in the typesetting process.

  • Please use PLOS template for your manuscript.
  • Avoid the use of packages other than those already included in the PLOS template, as these can result in conversion errors.
  • Please do not track changes in your final tex file. When your manuscript is accepted and enters production, please ensure that only the final content remains in the tex file.
  • Please limit the use of macros, as they can interfere with the conversion process.
  • Please include all portions of equations within the math environment in order to ensure it is correctly rendered.
  • Please do not use fixed-width font (verbatim, \texttt). PLOS cannot accommodate this font style.

Formatting Tips

Below are some ways to help us avoid conversion issues.

Command/Formatting Do NOT use USE
Bolding in the math environment \bf{}; \boldsymbol; \bm \mathbf{}
Roman (unitalicized) text in the math environment \rm \mathrm{}
Spacing anywhere in the math environment (including within text mode "\text{}") space bar \; or \:
Fractions \over \frac{}{}
Angle brackets \left< and \right> \langle and \rangle
Superscripts/subscripts \textsuperscript or \textsubscript $base^{superscript}$, $base_{subscript}$
Emphasis Typewriter font (verbatim, \texttt, etc), small caps italic, bold, underline, all caps
Text italics math mode \emph{} or \textit{}
Italics in math mode \it \mathit{}
"Blackboard" Font () \Bbb, spacing tricks such as $\mathrm{I\!P}$ \mathbb{}
Define shortcuts \def \newcommand
Decreased spacing \hspace{-#} Do not specify spacing that is merely stylistic
Command Abbreviations Do not use abbreviations (\beq, \ee, etc.) full command names
Special symbols from the keyboard \usepackage{inputenc} Standard LaTeX commands (e.g., \'{e} for é; \`{e} for è, etc.)

Citation spacing

  • Please add a space before the \cite command. For example, while "PLOS et al.\cite{plos2014}" will display correctly in your compiled PDF, this will convert improperly to "PLOS et al.[1]" in our production files. Instead, use "PLOS et al. \cite{plos2014}" (with a space between the text and \cite command) as this will convert with proper spacing, "PLOS et al. [1]".

LaTeX In-Line and Display Equations

Display Equations

  • Include entire equation in one math environment.
  • DO include terminal punctuations within the math environment.
  • Add line breaks in long equations (so that they will fit in our 2-column PDF display).

In-Line Equations

  • If any part of the equation or phrase includes a character only available in math mode, then include the entire equation/phrase in one math environment.
    • For example, since "CO2" contains a subscript (which requires math mode in our guidelines), the phrase should be written as "$\mathrm{CO}_2$"
  • Do not include commas or other normal (text) punctuation in the math environment, if possible.
    • For long inline equations, "breaking" the math environment in appropriate places (at commas, for instance) could help to improve the final display of your manuscript.


  • Please use either the {algorithmic} or {algorithmicx} packages. If possible, please avoid using the {algorithm2e} package.
  • Contain your algorithm within a {table} environment (not an {algorithm} environment) and add it to the list of tables (to appear at the bottom of the manuscript). For example, "Algorithm 1" may be cited in the text as "Algorithm 1 in Table 1".

LaTeX Tables

  • Tables must be cell based; do not merge rows.
  • Vertically merged cells are prohibited by our table guidelines. Certain LaTeX table formatting techniques, such as using \multirow or containing a tabular environment within another tabular environment, will result in vertically merged cells and should therefore be avoided.
  • Tables cannot contain graphics or colors.
  • Do not use \hline for new lines within a cell. This will result in data being split between two different shaded rows. Instead, allow text to wrap within a cell.