Special Instructions for Physiological Reviews

Physiological Reviews publishes comprehensive, analytical, and critical reviews by authors whose research has had a major influence on the development of the topic reviewed. An invitation to prepare a review usually originates with the Editorial Board. A good review presents new concepts or approaches that are the result of the contributions of several laboratories engaged in research on the subject.

The Editor extends the formal invitation, monitors the progress of the review, and is the person to whom the completed manuscript should be submitted. Each review is also assigned to a member of the Editorial Board, who assumes primary responsibility for the review, answers questions about scope or coverage, and otherwise assists the author in preparation. This Editorial Board member also handles the review of the completed manuscript, with whatever further editorial appraisal may be appropriate. A manuscript will be published if judged to represent a critical and comprehensive review of the selected topic.

The European Committee of the Editorial Board is responsible for all invitations and initial review of manuscripts by authors in Europe, Africa, and western Asia, including the Middle East. Manuscripts solicited by Corresponding Members of the Editorial Board and those volunteered by authors in other parts of the world are evaluated by the Editorial Board in the United States.

Authors are urged to write with both a general and a specialized readership in mind. The general reader often uses papers published in Physiological Reviews to provide the background for teaching or for research in an area that is new to him/her. Therefore, authors are encouraged to provide an informative Introduction and Summary or Conclusion, and to make use of figures and tables with a high didactic value.

Preparation of the Review

Length: Reviews should be from 25 to 50 printed pages, including figures and references (approximately 10,000 to 25,000 words). Longer manuscripts require special approval of the Editorial Board.

Table of Contents: The Table of Contents, with two levels of headings, should serve as an outline of the review. A well thought out and organized Table of Contents can greatly enhance the utility of the review for the generalist and specialist alike.

Abstract: Included just after the Table of Contents, the Abstract (approximately 200 words) serves as an overview of the text and is used by abstracting services such as Index Medicus.

Introduction: This first major section of the manuscript should put the review in historical context. It should be understandable to a general audience, provide the rationale for the review, make reference to the Table of Contents, and indicate the level of specialization.

Illustrations: Any type of illustration may be used that contributes to the analytical, critical, and review functions of the manuscript. For the sake of the general readership, authors are especially encouraged to use "model" diagrams that illustrate hypothesized physiological mechanisms or key technical considerations. The author may wish to reproduce primary data if those data clearly illustrate an important physiological and/or technical principle. Color figures are encouraged as long as the use of color is necessary to convey an important scientific message.

Tables: Tables are especially useful for organizing key principles for the general readership or for summarizing large amounts of data for the more specialized reader. Complicated tables are more easily reproduced if supplied as photographs that can be reduced to fit the journal page.

Summary or Conclusion: This last section of the text should organize and summarize the key concepts discussed. If appropriate, this section can also indicate areas of the field that need further attention and/or areas of future investigation.

References: Because references are one of the most important features of a review, authors are asked to give them particular attention. Cite only key references that are required to document your statements. The references must be alphabetized and numbered, and cited by number in the text. We recommend that the author use reference-formatting software. The Editorial Staff cannot verify the accuracy of citations and thus depends on the authors to verify their own.

Online Submission

All manuscripts must now be submitted electronically through our online submission system. Please note that prior to review, all manuscripts will be examined for originality using CrossCheck screening software to compare the submitted text to all available literature, including previous publications from the same author(s).

Title page: Should include title; author's name; laboratory or institution of origin, with city, state, and country; running head (i.e., short title); complete correspondence address; and the current phone, fax, and e-mail information. The e-mail address is necessary to be able to send electronic proof to authors and to correspond during production.

Footnotes: Submit on a separate page, double-spaced.

Figure Legends: Submit on a separate page, double-spaced, and numbered consecutively.

Tables: Submit on a separate page, double-spaced.

Abbreviations and terminology: In general, the conventions followed are those in the CBE Style Manual, sixth edition, 1994, published by the Council of Biology Editors. A list of abbreviations not requiring definitions is available on our website.


Original figures from accepted reviews are eligible for the Figure Redraw Program provided as a courtesy of APS Publications. The Figure Redraw Program employs trained medical illustrators to redraw selected figures from the accepted reviews. The Editor and APS Publications staff review submitted figures and choose candidates. Previously published figures are not considered for the program.

Authors must either agree to participate in the Figure Redraw Program or opt out. Authors will work directly with an illustrator to create and finalize redrawn images for publication.

APS assumes all costs associated with the Figure Redraw Program.

Go here for detailed instructions on creating your illustrations.

Use of Previously Published Illustrations

Previously published illustrations may be included if scientifically appropriate and permission is obtained from both the original author and publisher. Authors are responsible for: 1. obtaining and including permission letters with their accepted manuscript in advance of publication, and 2. for providing publication-quality electronic files of the previously published illustrations. These are best obtained from the original publisher or original author. Previously published images downloaded from the Internet are not acceptable for publication.


Style: Format of Physiological Reviews must be followed. References should be double-spaced, with punctuation as in examples below. Inclusive page numbers are required for journals, congress proceedings, and symposium series; for books, theses, and government publications it is useful to give specific page (see example no. 3) or chapter citations.

Abbreviations: Periodical titles are abbreviated as in Index Medicus/Medline.

Order: Alphabetically by author (note: Madden precedes McAdoo; Smith, Brown, and White precede Smith and White). Names and titles in other languages should include all accents. All citations must be numbered serially and each must have a number.

Acceptable citations: Only material already published or in press may be cited in the reference list. Unpublished material should be cited in the text. An abstract may be cited only when it is a definitive publication (example 5).

Reference Examples:

CONGRESS PROCEEDINGS 1. Bern HA and Yagi K. Electrophysiology of neurosecretory systems. In: Proceedings of the Second International Congress of Endocrinology London 1964. Amsterdam: Excerpta Med., 1965, p. 557-583. (Int Congr Ser 83)
SYMPOSIUM SERIES 2. Grillner RS and Hongo T. Vestibulospinal effects on motoneurones and interneurones in the lumbrosacral cord. In: Progress in Brain Research. Basic Aspects of Central Vestibular Mechanisms, edited by Brodal A and Pompeiano O. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 1972, vol. 37, p. 243-262.
BOOK 3. Maynard LA and Loosli JK. Animal Nutrition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1962, p. 182.
JOURNAL 4. McMurphy DM and Boreus LO. Studies on the pharmacology of the perfused human fetal ductus arteriosus. Am J Obstet Gynecol 109: 937-942, 1971.
ANNUAL MEETING ABSTRACT 5. Oliver JA, Kimmelstein S, and Steinmetz PR. Energy dependence of urinary HCO3- secretion in turtle bladder (Abstract). Proc Annu Meet Am Soc Nephrol 6th Washington DC 1973, p.80.
THESIS 6. Sexton AW. Factors Influencing the Uptake of Sodium Against a Concentration Gradient in the Goldfish Gill (PhD thesis). Columbia: Univ. of Missouri, 1955.
GOVERNMENT PUBLICATION 7. Johnson RC, Bergman AE Jr, and Jackson MM. Lower Body Negative Pressure: The Second Manned Skylab Mission. Houston, TX: NASA, 1974. (NASA Spec Rep SP-269)

For more examples, see Manuscript Composition.

Letters of Permission

Letters of permission should accompany the manuscript in the following circumstances:

  • for permission from the publisher and author to use previously published tables, illustrations, and quotations that exceed 100 words.
  • for permission from the publisher and author to modify/adapt illustrations (permission not required if the illustrations are previously published in an APS journal)
  • for permission from any individual who is listed in a "personal communication" for reference material;
  • for permission to cite an individual for "acknowledgment" of help in preparation of the manuscript;
  • for permission to discuss information that an individual has "in press."
See Permissions for further information.

Copyright and Mandatory Submission Form

The Journal is copyrighted for the protection of authors and the Society. A copyright transfer form, called Mandatory Submission Form, is available during online submission. The copyright transfer form must be completed, signed, and returned before the accepted review may be sent for production.


An electronic set of page proofs, called Rapid Proof, will be e-mailed to the corresponding author for correction of errors only. The proofs with hand-marked corrections must be returned promptly to the Editorial Office. Excessive changes in proofs will be charged to authors.


Fifty printed copies are provided gratis to the senior author. Additional copies may be ordered when proofs are received. The Reprint Order Form is included with the Rapid Proof. Reprints containing color may only be ordered at proof time.

Requirements for the Accepted Review

Once the review is accepted, the author needs to submit the print copy as well as the disk files of the final accepted version, including text and tables. Digitally prepared figures should be sent on a separate disk. Please follow the acceptance letter instructions for this final submission.