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CBE (CSE) Style Guide

Although there is no universally accepted format for writing and documenting citations in academic writing, the style guide of the Council of Science Editors (CSE), formerly known as the Council of Biology Editors (CBE), is very influential in the natural sciences. Writers in Biology, Geology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Medicine, and Physics generally prefer it.

Like the Chicago Manual of Style, the CBE manual provides two documentation systems - the citation-sequence system and the name-year system. Both involve short in-text citations keyed to references that are listed at the end of the paper. As a result, a complete citation has both an in-text citation within the text and a bibliographic reference at the end.

A few examples of some of the rules in the style guide are as follows:

  • Use margins of one inch on all sides, except for page numbering.

  • Number pages a half-inch from the top edge of the paper and flush with the right margin.

  • Double-space the essay or report throughout, including quotations, notes, and list of references.

  • Indent the first line of each paragraph by a half-inch (or five characters, if using a typewriter), or leave a blank line between paragraphs.

  • Use a plain serif font, such as Times Roman or Palatino. Alternatively, use a good non-serif font, such as Arial or Helvetica.

  • Use italics for emphasis.

For more information on CBE, consult The CBE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994)

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