Initial Publication Date: December 12, 2013

In The Trenches: Style Guide

In the Trenches is the quarterly digital and print magazine of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT). Designed as a forum for sharing ideas and experiences that can inform the larger community, it enables contributors to inform NAGT members about their best teaching ideas, teaching resources and other topics that do not lend themselves to more research-focused journals.

The style guidelines of In the Trenches (ITT) are adapted from the guidelines of the Geological Society of America, available for download as a PDF.

  • Because the readers of In the Trenches are professional scientists and educators, ITT requires accuracy and integrity in the articles it publishes.
  • Because In the Trenches is a news magazine and not an academic journal, stories should be informative, accessible and entertaining.
  • Because space is limited, authors are expected to adhere to the word count specifications they will be given when they are asked to submit an article.
  • Because NAGT is committed to delivering In the Trenches to its readers in a timely and reliable fashion, authors are enjoined to meet the deadlines they are given.

Grammar Reference Books

Grammar, Spelling and Usage:

  • Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary
  • The Elements of Style, by William Strunk, Jr., and E.B. White

General Style and Typography:

  • The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, University of Chicago Press, 2003.

The Process

Contributions to In the Trenches (ITT) should be innovative, provocative, of timely significance and of interest and use to geoscience educators at all teaching levels: K-12, two-year institutions and colleges, universities, and graduate schools.

The manuscript submission and publication process is as follows:

  • The author emails an inquiry to the ITT editorial staff, noting general content of his/her proposed article and other salient factors.
  • We will email or call in response. When we invite you to submit an article we'll assign a word count, deadline and guidelines for submitting publication-quality illustrations.
  • Articles for ITT are not peer-reviewed, but they are subject to editing for space, technical style, clarity, and reader appeal. Articles may be reviewed by outside experts if necessary. Articles that undergo significant editing will be returned to authors for review and/or clarification of any questions or concerns.


Manuscripts — formatted in 12 point Times or Times Roman, double spaced and saved as a .doc or .docx file — should be emailed as attachments to the editor.

Provide a title at the top of your manuscript, followed by byline information for the author(s):

NAME (email address), job/academic title, academic department, institution, location, other pertinent information, e.g., JANE D. DOE (, professor in the Department of Geology, State University, City, State.


In the Trenches is copyrighted under the 1976 United States statute. Revised manuscripts accepted for publication must be accompanied by a completed and signed Transfer of Copyright Form.

Organization of Articles

State the thesis/purpose of your article at the outset, presenting it clearly in the fewest words possible and avoiding jargon. Clearly differentiate fact and inference, double check the spelling of all proper nouns and present justifiable conclusions and future implications. Assume that readers need not be told basic principles, but define specialized terms that they may not routinely encounter. Provide brief, clear descriptions of methods and laboratory techniques.


Omit the comma before the conjunction in series of three or more, e.g., red, white and blue.

Insert commas between independent clauses of significant length, e.g., She went to the lab to set up the next day's experiment, and he logged onto Blackboard to check student progress on the quiz.

Do NOT insert commas between dependent clauses, e.g., She went to the lab and set up the next day's experiment.

Units of Measure

Use the International System of units (metric) in captions, illustrations and text. Where English measurements are necessary, follow metric with English in parentheses.


Avoid footnotes if possible. Textual footnotes that are deemed necessary should be numbered consecutively with superscripts and also typed double-spaced.


All references mentioned in the text, figures, captions tables, and appendixes should be listed, alphabetically by author's surname, at the end of the text. For references with two authors, list alphabetically by first author and then alphabetically by second author. Do not abbreviate journal titles or book publishers in references. Include the city of publication for books. For references that do not match any of the examples given here, include all information that would help a reader locate the reference. For online references, include the subject heading, the pertinent URL and in parentheses the date you accessed the material.


Place lists of resources (including URLs) at the end of the text as well, material that readers can consult to learn more about your topic.


ITT prefers that all illustrations, whether line drawings or photographs, be submitted as electronic files but we may sometimes scan clean hard copy if digital files are unavailable. Submit figures at 300 dpi and in as close to likely final size as possible (at least at 8.5 × 11 inches for cover images). Figure/Image files may be submitted in TIFF, GIF, JPG, PDF, Postscript or EPS format.


Please supply a short caption for each photo that explains what is pictured and the geoscience or education interest of the photo. Include a credit line acknowledging the creator of the image. Make captions for line drawings, maps, etc., precise and explain all symbols and abbreviations used.


Tables should replace text, not duplicate it. Note their ideal location in the manuscript, number them consecutively, and insert them in Excel, tab-separated format or comma-separated format at the end of text file.