SRL Submission Information for Authors

  • Article types
  • Recommended lengths for articles
  • Organize your manuscript
  • Style
  • File types for manuscript submission
  • Publication charges
  • Artwork
  • Line art and combination files
  • Copyright
  • Submitting your manuscript to SRL
  • Questions?
  • SRL Article/Journal of Record   

    As of 01 January 2016, SRL Online is the journal of record for Seismological Research Letters. In other words, starting with SRL volume 87, the version of your SRL article that appears in SRL Online at and is the definitive article of record. With this change, authors now have the option to publish in gray scale in print and in color online with no color charge. See the section below on Color Options for details.   

    Article Types

    SRL publishes articles, columns, news, and other items of broad appeal to seismologists and earthquake engineers.  Those with asterisks (*) are exempt from page charges.

    Articles (aka "regular SRL articles) comprise the bulk of SRL submissions. They are informational, timely, and appeal to a cross section interests within and tangental to the field of seismology. By-and-large these articles aren't original research; articles documenting original research are better-suited for SRL's sister journal, BSSA.

    Eastern Section articles are published in SRL’s Eastern Section pages—a journal within a journal that is produced by the Eastern Section of the Seismological Society of America. Eastern Section articles focus specifically on the seismology of eastern and central North America and intraplate tectonics in general.

    Focus Sections contain 6-8 related articles on a recent earthquake or a contemprary topic in seismology. Focus sections are proposed and led by guest editors.

    Opinion* is the space where writers can express views about topics in seismology or seismological research.

    Historical Seismologist* columns deal with historical earthquakes, archeoseismology, the history of seismology, and related topics.

    Electronic Seismologist columns describe technology-driven seismological developments.

    EduQuakes* columns highlight ways that seismology is being taught or used to educate students and/or the public.

    Data Mine documents data collected through recent earth science experiments and tells readers how to access it. For more information, click here.

    Earthquake Lites provide levity – comics, quips, anecdotes, brief stories or ironic discoveries – that contain some inside-seismology amusement.

    Memorials* pay tribute to recently deceased persons whose lives and careers greatly impacted the seismological community.

    Comments, Replies, Errata, Letters to the Editor, and Reviews are welcome.

    Transitions briefly note changes for SSA members and others notables in seismology.

    News and Notes carries information and updates for the SSA community.

    Click here to browse selected parts of the most recent issue of SRL.

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    Recommended Length Limits

    These recommended limits make be exceeded only at the discretion of the SRL Editor in Chief.

    Regular and Eastern Section articles: 6,000 words, 10 figures, three tables.

    Historical Seismologist, Electronic Seismologist, EduQuakes: 6,000 words, 10 figures, three tables.

    Opinions: 1,500 words; figures and/or tables optional.

    Memorials: 2,000 words; must include at least one photo of the deceased.

    Reviews: 1,500 words.

    Comments/Replies: focused and shorter than the original article.

    Abstracts: 300 words

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    Organize Your Manuscript

    1. Title page with all authors’ names and affiliations, and complete contact information for the corresponding author.
    2. Abstracts required for all Regular and Eastern Section articles, Historical Seismologist, Electronic Seismologist, EduQuakes, and Data Mine columns.
    3. Text (Introduction, Body, Conclusion)
    4. Data & Resources - this section will be required for all SRL articles published in January 2016 and later; requirements are the same as for D&R in BSSA -- see D&R guidelines below. 
    5. Acknowledgments
    6. References
    7. Tables
    8. Figures for information and fees, see below.
    9. Appendixes (optional)
    10. Captions for tables and figures
    11. Electronic Supplement (optional) - for instructions and fees, see SSA's guidelines for electronic supplements, linked at the bottom of this page.

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    Format and font: Use a standard U.S. letter-size page (8.5 X 11 inches), left-justified with indented paragraphs. Double-space all written material, including acknowledgments, references, affiliations, and figure captions. Use 12-point Times New Roman type. Page numbering and line numbering are both mandatory. Put figures and tables at the end of the manuscript, clearly numbered so referees can refer to them easily. Figure captions may be included with the figures as well as in a separate list.

    Text: Use American English, not British. Define all technical terms, symbols, acronyms, and abbreviations upon first reference. Consult a recent issue of SRL for styling of heads and subheads. Cite all figures and tables in strict numerical order. Avoid using quotation marks and italics for emphasis. Does your manuscript present your work clearly and concisely in idiomatic and correct American English? If your first language is not English, ask a native English speaker to review the paper and comment. Manuscripts with poor English will be returned unreviewed.

    Mathematics and symbols: Use the solidus whenever possible in preference to built-up fractions, write complicated exponentials in the form exp( ), avoid subscripts or superscripts on subscripts and superscripts,etc. Make subscripts and superscripts large and clear; label Greek letters and unusual or ambiguous symbols on first occurrence (for example, spell out subscript "zero" to distinguish it from "oh"). Be sure that letters in formulas are unambiguously capital or lowercase. Place equation numbers in parentheses to the right of the equations. Use italic type for variables and bold for vectors and matrices. Equations should be punctuated as sentences.

    Tables should be numbered consecutively with Arabic numerals. Each table must have a title; column heads should be brief and contain units of measurement in parentheses. Present each table on a separate page. Each table must be referenced at least once in the text. Avoid large/long tables or place them in an electronic supplement.

    Figures: SRL charges for color pages in print; color-online-only figures appear as grayscale in print; see the sections below on Publication Charges and the Tutorial on Producing Online-Only Color Figures for details. Number figures in the order of reference in the text. Each figure must be referenced at least once in the text. Don't put the caption inside the figure; number and list captions at the end of the manuscript. Be sure captions correctly describe the figure. Keep figure parts consistent in size, each part labeled in the upper left corner with (A), (B), (C), etc. For text within a figure, use Helvetica or Times Roman type with a font size large enough that it can be easily read. Avoid inconsistencies in type font and size within a figure and from one figure to the next. Use consistent units of measurement and abbreviations between figures and text. Avoid white text on dark background. Avoid small open symbols and ensure that superscripts and subscripts are legible. Proofread all text within a figure for accuracy and consistency with the text.

    References should be arranged alphabetically by author and use hanging indents. Spell out journal titles and acronyms. Include issue numbers, volume numbers, page numbers and dois for journal articles; publisher and place of publication for books; and date and location for conference presentations. For examples, consult a recent issue of SRL.

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    File Types for Manuscript Submission

    SRL accepts manuscripts submitted in the following types of files:

    • Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx)
    • Adobe PDF
    • LaTeX

    When an SRL manuscript is accepted for publication, the corresponding author will be asked for source files in Word (preferred) or LaTeX.

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    Publication Charges

    SRL and BSSA share a publication fee structure.  Click here for all page and color charge information.


    Electronic submission of artwork with articles is encouraged. We prefer the following file formats:

    • TIFF
    • Native Adobe Photoshop files
    • JPEG (as long as compression is avoided or minimized)
    • GIF

    If your graphic is in a different format, please e-mail Mary George, srl [at] seismosoc [dot] org, to determine compatibility.

    For color images, use CMYK color mapping instead of RGB. (CMYK often looks less bright than RGB, but since it will be printed using CMYK, that is a better representation of what it will look like in the journal.) Color scans should be made at 300 dpi or greater resolution.

    Grayscale and halftone images should be 3% highlights and 85% shadows. For photos that include a few arrows and legends, you may make a combination file, but also include the original photo in one of the above formats. That way, if there is trouble with the combination file, we can use our software to recreate the legends and arrows.

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    Line Art and Combination Files

    When possible, use PostScript fonts. The journal is set in Helvetica and Adobe Garamond (and their stylistic variations), but Times is also fine. The best file formats by far are:

    • Native Adobe Illustrator files
    • EPS (Encapsulated PostScript)
    • PS (plain PostScript, including PostScript "job" or "printer" files)
    • Adobe Acrobat PDF files

    Formats that sometimes work but which frequently get corrupted in minor to major ways are PICT, CorelDraw, and figures pasted into a Microsoft Word document. Older versions of Word seem to behave better. Again, for color work use a CMYK color model when possible. For black and white work, avoid color (it will appear gray). Instead use solid black and gray scales between 20% and 70%. (Shades outside this range can be used, but be aware that shades darker than 70% may appear black, especially when used in thin lines, and shades lighter than 20% fade on printing and may not be easily visible.)

    Most graphics software will produce usable PostScript files if you select a PostScript printer driver (whether or not you have a PostScript printer) and print a file to disk. These files can be quite large, however. CorelDraw produces fairly unreliable PostScript, especially when raster-image files are included.

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    Copyright for articles published in SRL is held by SSA.  Click here for copyright/page-charges form.  Authors must upload the completed form at the time of manuscript submission. Authors are responsible for securing permission to reproduce in SRL any copyrighted or printed matter from other publications.

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    Data and Resources Section Guidelines

    SSA requires that authors identify the sources of data used during research and give information about whether those sources are available to readers. A Data and Resources section must precede the Acknowledgments section for every submission to SRL and BSSA. The Data and Resources section identifies all data sources not included in published works, which are listed in the References. For example, data from a published work would be an earthquake catalog listed in a table or the electronic supplement of a published paper. An online database, however, is an unpublished work, so it must be listed in the  Data and Resources. (A published work describing the database can be included in the References, but online databases themselves must be cited in the Data and Resources section.)

    When a data source is mentioned in the body of an SRL or BSSA paper, it should be followed by a pointer to the Data and Resources section; e.g., "earthquake mechanisms were obtained from the Global Centroid Moment Tensor Project (see Data and Resources section)." The corresponding entry in the Data and Resources section would be, "The Global Centroid Moment Tensor Project database was searched using (last accessed 5 August 2015)."

    Use the Data and Resources section to identify other resources such as computer codes, e.g., Generic Mapping Tools (GMT). Such resources do not need to be mentioned in the body of the paper. 

    Below are some examples of Data and Resources entries:

    • Seismograms used in this study were collected as part of the Central Kansas Lithospheric Experiment using PASSCAL instruments. Data can be obtained from the IRIS Data Management Center at (last accessed August 2015).
    • Well logs were provided by Central Oil Company and are proprietary. They cannot be released to the public.
    • Seismograms used in this study were collected using a classified network of the U.S. Government and cannot be released to the public.
    • No data were used in this paper. Some plots were made using the Generic Mapping Tools version 4.2.1 (; Wessel and Smith, 1998).
    • All data used in this paper came from published sources listed in the references.

    Submitting Your Manuscript to SRL

    Use SRL’s online submission system at for all articles and columns. Email items for Transitions and News and Notes to

    Electronic Supplements


    Email questions to the SRL Editorial Office:

    Tutorial on Producing Online-Only Color Figures 


    SSA’s policy of allowing color figures online and gray scale in print at both SRL and BSSA gives authors the chance to utilize color in their papers even if they do not have sufficient funding for color printing charges. Along with this opportunity comes the responsibility to produce figures and text that work well in both the online and the printed editions of SRL and BSSA.  It is the author’s responsibility to write text that does not refer to the colors in the figures and to produce a single version of the figure that will be clear when used in color online and in gray scale in print. Authors cannot submit two versions of the same figure, one for color and one for black and white; only one version can be submitted. Nor can the manuscript or caption text be modified between the two editions. Failure to produce acceptable figures and text likely will delay the publication of your paper. 

    It is not possible for the gray-scale version to be as good as the color version, but it is possible to produce figures that are very good in gray scale. This tutorial demonstrates ways to produce acceptable figures. 

    Checking your figures  

    Before submitting your original or revised paper, check your figures to make sure they are legible in both color and gray scale. This can be done in a number of ways: 

    1. Use a program such as Photoshop to convert a copy of the figure to gray scale. 
    2. Print the figure in gray scale using a black-and-white printer or by changing the settings on a color printer. 
    3. Examine the figure in gray scale on your computer monitor. In Mac OS X this can be done under System Setting, Universal Access, Use grayscale. Windows users who don't already have a graphics or photo-editing program that can display color images in gray scale can download the free program GIMP from After installing GIMP, take the following steps: 
      1. Open the file that contains the color image. 
      2. Launch GIMP and use the menu to select "file" then "new." 
      3. A "create a new image" menu window will open. You can reset the size of the new file from the default values of 420 x 300 pixels to other values. A size of 600 x 600 pixels usually works well. 
      4. Select "OK". A window will open showing the canvas for the new file. From the menu at the top, select "image" then "mode" then "grayscale". 
      5. At this point you can move back to the file that contains the color image, copy it, and paste it into the GIMP window. You should get a gray-scale image that you can compare side-by-side with the color image. 
      6. Use "edit" then "undo" to delete the image from the GIMP window, and use copy/paste to view the next color image. 

    Lines and symbols in figures 

    When preparing a figure with lines and symbols, you can produce a graphic that will work in both color and gray scale by properly utilizing line types, line widths, different symbols, and keys. For instance, this figure works well in color,

    Figure 1

    but cannot be understood in gray scale,

    Figure 2

    because, without a key, it is difficult to discuss the different lines and symbols without referring to their colors.

    This figure can be improved by changing the line widths, using dashed lines, changing symbol types, and adding a key in addition to using different colors, as shown here:

    Figure 3

    The figure can also be understood in gray scale:


    Figure 4

    And the key makes it easy to refer to the two theories and data sets in the text without mentioning the colors used to plot them.


    Shaded figures 

    When representing a velocity model, shaking distribution, or other field in a color figure, it is often useful to use shaded colors to represent the values. Seismologists often use a color scale that goes from red for low values through white and into blue for high values. Unfortunately, this color scale does not work well when printed in gray scale, because both blues and reds go to similar shades of gray. For instance, the following figure is clear in color

    Figure 5

    but does not work well in gray scale

    Figure 6

    because it is impossible to tell which end has the high or low values, and intermediate values would be very hard to differentiate in a more complicated field. This could be fixed by using a different color scale. For instance, a scale known as a “heat” scale works well in color

    Figure 7

    and adequately in gray scale:

    Figure 8

    However, many authors may wish to use the more traditional blue-to-white-to-red color scale. In that case, the figure can be improved by adding labeled contours so that the reader can tell where the high and low values are both in color,


    Figure 9

    and in gray scale.

    Figure 10

    Using white contours and labels makes the contours easy to read in the dark regions that are most confusing in the gray-scale image.

    When overlaying other symbols or lines on a shaded image, make sure that the symbols and lines are legible in both the color and the gray-scale images.

    Captions and text  

    To ensure that the text of your paper and the captions make sense for both the online and print editions of SRL or BSSA, do not refer to the color of a line, symbol, or other element in the text or captions. For instance, with respect to the figures above, do not refer to the “blue circles.” Instead, you can refer to the “circles” or to “the points showing data set 1.” The latter is preferable because it puts the focus on the science in your paper rather than on how it is shown in the figure. By using a key in the figure, you help the reader of either edition to tell which points are showing data set 1. 

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