Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Biology: Writing in Biology

This guide provides an overview of UA Libraries' resources and services for biology and related sub-fields.

Writing Guides for the Biological Sciences

Tips for Formatting Your Paper

Please refer to the class assignment or/and ask your instructor for guidance with writing your paper.  Some general suggestions for writing a paper in the biological sciences:

  • Use double-spacing throughout the entire paper.

  • Use 1 in. margins and a 12-point font.

  • Type the page number in the top right corner of the page.

  • On the first page, include your name, date, the name of the course, and title of the paper (centered).

Body of the paper:

  • [Recommended] CSE encourages the use of Headings (centered) to help readers follow the organization of a paper. For example, Introduction.
  • Strive to communicate information effectively (i.e. clear and concise).
  • Use the passive voice.
    Good example: “Water samples were collected at depths of 1 meter, 10 meters, and 30 meters."
    Bad example: "They collected water samples from three different depths of water. They went to depths of 1 meter, 10 meters, and 30 meters.”

  • When citing sources, paraphrase more often (i.e. avoid direct quotes).

References (some general tips when using CSE style):

  • Italicize scientific names and capitalize the first word.

  • List all authors in the order they appear on the publication if there are ten or fewer authors.  If there are more than eleven authors, list the first ten followed by et.al.

  • If there is not an individual author(s), provide the corporate author or name of the agency or organization who published the work. If the date is unknown, put date unknown in square brackets in the citation where the date should be: [date unknown]

  • Abbreviate journal titles (please consult "Sources for Obtaining Journal Title Abbreviations" box below).

  • Include the DOI, when available.

Review your paper carefully.  Try reading your paper aloud (it should not sound like a lab manual or a personal essay) and, if possible, ask your classmates to help proofread it before submitting it.  Visit the Writing Center (ground floor, Bierce Library).