Geology Impact Factor
2023: 4.8
5-year: 5.1
Cited half-life: 15.5 years
#1 in "geology" category for 18 years in a row

Author Guidelines

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Published since 1973, Geology features rapid publication of about 23 refereed short (four-page) papers each month. Articles cover all earth-science disciplines and include new investigations and provocative topics. Professional geologists and university-level students in the earth sciences use this widely read journal to keep up with scientific research trends. The online forum section facilitates author-reader dialog. Includes color and occasional large-format illustrations on oversized loose inserts.

Type of Articles

  • Geology articles are timely, innovative, and provocative, relevant to the journal's international audience, and representative of research from all fields of the geosciences.
  • Geology manuscripts must fit the following size constraints:
    (1) A character count with spaces (in Microsoft Word) of no more than 18,500 characters for the title, author names, affiliations, abstract, main text, Acknowledgments, and figure captions (the References Cited list does not need to be counted).
    (2) Up to 35 references in the References Cited list.
    (3) No more than 4 figures and tables. You may have any combination of figures and tables, as long as you keep to a total of 4 items or fewer.
  • Research Focus Articles provide an (invited) opportunity for authors familiar with specific issues and disciplines to draw new insights from a published article, as well as to provide additional background and depth for readers unfamiliar with the most recent techniques and/or results in this field.
  • Comments and Replies provide a forum in which published papers can be discussed. These are each limited to one PDF page, including references, figures, and tables (about 7,500 characters of text = one printed page). Comments focus on the broad assertions or implications in the original article; they are not overly specific or personal. A comment must be submitted within six months of publication of the original article. Replies are written by the original author(s) after receiving a copy of the relevant comment. Replies must be submitted to GSA within one month.

All Geology papers are subject to GSA's Ethical Guidelines for Publications.

Preparing your manuscript

Format and style

All article submissions must be accompanied by a cover letter that includes the information outlined in Submitting Your Paper.

Manuscript text must:

  • be double-spaced, 12 pt, Times New Roman
  • include continuous line numbers
  • be 8.5 × 11 inches (US Letter) in page size (or ISO A4)
  • follow this order: title, complete list of authors and affiliations, abstract, body text (introduction, materials and methods, results, discussion, conclusions), appendices, acknowledgments, references cited, figure captions (with tables, figures, and supplemental material in separate files), alternative text for figures and equations (GSA books; upcoming for journals).

Authors are responsible for providing manuscripts in which approved geological and other scientific terminology is used correctly and that have no grammar or spelling errors. Authors must check their manuscripts for accuracy and consistency in use of capitalization, spelling, abbreviations, and dates.

Editing resources

  • Manuscripts should be in polished form. American English usage should be of high quality, and the text should be written clearly and organized effectively to adequately convey information to readers and researchers. Submissions that do not meet the above criteria will be returned to the author or rejected without review.
  • To ensure your paper meets quality standards set by GSA science editors, you may elect to have a peer, freelance editor, or English-language editing service examine the manuscript prior to submission.
  • Freelance editors listed by the Association of Earth Science Editors.
  • Note: GSA does not guarantee that edited manuscripts will be accepted for publication. Editing service and payment is arranged between the author and service provider.

You may use this manuscript template in .docx format as a base for your submission. GSA heading styles can be found in this template.

Heading styles

Title of manuscript [Capitalize only proper nouns, and do not use ALL CAPS]
Second Level Heading [Bold, Each Word Capitalized]
Third Level Heading [Bold, Italic, Each Word Capitalized]
Fourth level heading. [Bold, italic, sentence capitalization, indented (it runs into the paragraph)]

Fifth level heading. [Italic, sentence capitalization, indented (it also runs into the paragraph)]

Units of measure

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


For text: Do not use footnotes and avoid parenthetical statements.

For tables: cite footnotes using superscript symbols (in the order *, †, §, #). See table example.


Make captions precise and explain all symbols and abbreviations. Provide captions in consecutive order, double-spaced. Do not include figures or tables in the manuscript file (neither in the main body nor with the figure captions). Alternative text is requested for figures and equations in GSA books (upcoming for journals).

Sample locations

Authors must provide positional information on all locations where data have been collected, including sample sites and transect locations.

Editors expect that specific locations—in decimal degree format, with the associated projection information (e.g. WGS84 or NAD 27)—will be provided in data tables and/or figure captions, as appropriate, in addition to graphical representation on maps, so that all data, whether placed in a supplemental file or submitted to a data repository, have locational metadata.

We recognize that sometimes (for example, in the case of proprietary data or sensitive mineral or fossil locations) it may not be appropriate to provide precise location information. In such rare cases, authors should explain the situation in their cover letter to the science editor and provide as much location information as is possible.

If location information is imprecise or unknown (for example, in the case of archived samples in museum or other collections), authors should provide the current location of the material and any available information on provenance.

A basic location figure must be included with the manuscript where understanding the geospatial context of the research is necessary for evaluating the presented science; detailed sample locations can be provided in a supplemental file.

Mathematical expressions

  • Identify equations by calling them out with numbers in parentheses placed flush right.
  • A letter or symbol should represent only one entity and be used consistently throughout the paper.
  • Define your use of symbols in the text the first time each appears.
  • Supply complex equations in an editable format by using a math editor (e.g., MathType, Microsoft Word’s Equation Editor tool, etc.).
  • Supply simple, inline equations in Word, without using a math editor. Insert symbols from Word’s “Symbol” palette, using “normal text” or “Symbol” fonts only. Insert symbols using a math editor ONLY if they cannot be found in the “Symbol” palette under one of those two fonts.


Spelling should follow that of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary ( Authors are responsible for consistency in spelling.

Suggested resources

Parts of the manuscript


Should be accurate, informative, and brief. Include keywords in the title to optimize search engine discovery. Include geographic information (including the country).

Author list

List all author names: check author order, spelling, capitalization, initials, and hyphens.

  • Format names as: first name (or initial) middle name (or initial) (if preferred), last name (surname/family name).
  • List affiliation(s) for each author that include: institution (department and university or organization), city, state or province, zip code, country. An author’s affiliations should reflect where the research was conducted. If an author changes institution, the new affiliation can be listed in a footnote. Spell out all elements of the affiliation in full (e.g., “U.S. Geological Survey” not “USGS”).
  • Do not include academic degrees and professional titles.

Corresponding author

Clearly identify the corresponding author and their email address. The corresponding author is designated to receive post-publication queries from readers. Authors should supply their ORCID iD.


A brief and objective abstract of no more than 250 words should present, in capsule form, the paper’s content and conclusions. A topic sentence should give the overall scope and be followed by emphasis on new information. Omit references, figure or table callouts, and criticisms.

Body text

Precisely define the contribution at the outset and present it clearly in the fewest words possible (but avoid jargon), so that the reader may get a maximum of facts and ideas in a minimum amount of time. State the purpose, give a brief background, concisely present the data that led to the conclusions, clearly differentiate fact and inference, and present justifiable conclusions and, perhaps, further implications of the conclusions. Assume that the publication's readers are familiar with the general literature and need not be told basic principles; therefore, give only minimal background and reference material.

The manuscript should provide descriptions of methods and/or laboratory techniques sufficient for a reader to understand the way in which the data were collected. (More detailed methods, if appropriate, can be provided in an appendix or as supplemental material.) Do not describe standard methods in detail if references to the methods can be cited. Please avoid statements of future work or claims of priority.


An appendix should be able to stand alone in a self-contained section, but is not as substantial as Supplemental Material. Figures, equations, and tables used in an appendix should be numbered sequentially but separately from those used in the main body of the paper (e.g., Fig. A1, eq. (A1), Table A1).

References Cited

  • In the References Cited section, list all references mentioned in the text, figures, captions, tables, and appendices. 
  • References exclusive to the supplemental material should not be included in the main reference list. Add these references to the supplemental material. 
  • Do not cite papers that are unpublished, in preparation, submitted, in review, or in revision. In addition, do not cite personal communications.
  • Pre-print citations: See GSA’s Preprint Policy.
  • List references alphabetically by author’s surname. References with two authors: list alphabetically by first author, then alphabetically by second author. References with more than two authors: list alphabetically by first author and then chronologically. For all: earliest year first.
  • For multiple references by the same author, list single-authored works first (even if chronologically earlier than multi-authored works), followed by works with two authors, and finally three or more authors (e.g, Turner 2024; Turner and Smith, 2020, Turner, Smith, and Johnson 2009).
  • For journal references with more than 10 authors, shorten the author list to the first author’s name plus “et al.”
  • Spell out journal titles and book publishers.
  • Include DOI numbers when available.
  • For website citations, include the month and year the site was accessed in parentheses at the end of the reference, e.g., “(accessed May 2024).”
  • For translated works, include original title, original publication year, and original publisher.
  • For all references, include all information that would help a reader locate the reference (e.g., DOI, author names, title of work, publisher information).

Template examples for different types of references are below. For more examples, please see our References Guidelines.

Abstract from a conference: Author surname, Author first initial(s), Year, Abstract title: Conference location, Conference date(s), Conference host, Conference name and number, source type, abstract number [language notes (if applicable)], DOI [language notes (if applicable)].

Abstract from other sources: Author surname, Author first initial(s), Year, Abstract title: Publication name, v. #, (issue) no. #, p. #–# [language notes (if applicable)].

Book: Author surname, Author first initial(s), Year, Book title: Publisher location, Publisher name and type of publication (if applicable) v# (if applicable), # p., DOI [language notes (if applicable)].

Book chapter: Author surname, Author first initial(s), Year, Chapter title, in Editor surname, Editor given name initial(s), ed(s)., Book Title: Publisher location, Publisher Name and series (if applicable) v# (if applicable), p. #–#, DOI [language notes (if applicable)].

Comment, Discussion, Reply: Author surname, Author first initial(s), Year, Title of Comment/Discussion thread/Reply: Comment/Discussion/Thread: Publication name, v. #, p. #–#, DOI [language notes (if applicable)]. 

Computer Program: Author surname, Author first initial(s) OR Authoring Organization, Year, Program title/name: Program creator(s), URL.

Database: Author surname, Author first initial(s) OR Authoring Organization, Year, Database title: Database host, URL (date last accessed).

Full Guidebook: Author surname, Author first initial(s), Year, Guidebook Title: Publisher name Book type volume number, # p., DOI [language notes (if applicable)].

Chapter in Guidebook: Author surname, Author first initial(s), Year, Chapter title, in Editor surname, Editor first initial(s), ed(s)., Guidebook Title: Publisher name Book type volume number, p. #–#, DOI [language notes (if applicable)].

Journal Article: Author surname, Author first initial(s), Year, Article title: Journal Title, v. #, (issue) no. #, p. #–# (or article number), DOI [language notes (if applicable)].

Map: Author surname, Author first initial(s), Year, Map Title: Publisher name and map number (if applicable), scale 1:###, # sheet(s)/plate(s), # of text pages, DOI/URL.

Online pdf: Author surname, Author first initial(s) OR Authoring Organization, Year, Document title: URL (date last accessed [Month Year]).

Open-File Report: Author surname, Author first initial(s), Year, Report title: Publisher name Report type report number, total pages, DOI.

Paper in Gov’t or University Serial Publication: Author surname, Author first initial(s), Year, Paper title: Publisher name paper type (or series) publication number, p. #–#, URL.

Proceedings from a Symposium of Conference: Author surname, Author first initial(s), Year, Title, in Proceedings, Conference/Symposium title, Conference/Symposium number: Location, Date(s), Conference/Symposium host, v. #, (issue) no. #, p. #–#, DOI.

Thesis/Dissertation: Author surname, Author first initial(s), Year, Thesis/Dissertation title [thesis type (e.g., Master’s thesis, Ph.D. dissertation, etc.)]: City of university, University name, total pages [language notes (if applicable)].

Website: Author surname, Author first initial(s), Year, Website title: URL (date last accessed [Month Year]).

Figures and Tables

In general:

  • Cite each figure and table and name them in order of first appearance in the text (Figure 1, Figure 2, Table 1, Figure 3, Table 2, etc.). All figures and tables must be cited in numerical order (e.g., The first citation to Figure 2 cannot precede the first citation to Figure 1.).
  • Figures and tables should add information to the article, not duplicate results that are (or could be) explained briefly in the text.
  • Figures and tables should be understandable without having to read the article. Any abbreviations or symbols should be defined in the caption (figures) or in the notes (tables) even if already defined in the text.


See How to prepare figures for figure specifications and guidance.

A caption explains how to read a figure, independent of the article text. Follow the guidelines below:

  • Maps: captions must credit all sources used to produce the map—e.g., base map if used and data plotted on the map. List map projection and coordinate system used, if applicable.
  • Include a permission statement for figures adapted, modified, or republished from elsewhere. Upload a copy of your permission from the original copyright holder with your files, or send by email to the publication’s editorial office.


See Table example for table specifications and guidance.

  • The numbering scheme should reflect each table's physical location in the document—tables in main text start with "TABLE 1."; tables in the appendix start with "TABLE A1."
  • Supply tables in an editable format, i.e., Word (table function in DOC or DOCX) or Excel (spreadsheet in XLS or XLSX). Each data point should be in a separate cell.
  • Footnotes should be designated by symbols (order: *, †, §, #, **, ††…).
  • Add a Notes section at the bottom of the table for additional information.

Supplemental Material

Authors may submit information that supplements and expands on their in-publication paper as supplemental material. Newly acquired data presented only in graphs in the manuscript must be supplied in this way. This content should not be necessary to understand the ideas and conclusions of the published paper (e.g., lists of species, geophysical data, geochemical data).

  • Figures, equations, and tables in a supplemental file should be numbered sequentially but separately from the numbering used in the manuscript (e.g., Fig. S1, Eq. S1, Table S1, Text S1).

  • Cite supplemental material in the manuscript with a footnote at the first instance. Please provide a brief description for the footnote; a DOI will be assigned by GSA staff during production.

  • Supplemental files are not edited and, therefore, will appear exactly as submitted.

GSA encourages authors to follow established community standards for archiving specific types of data and to place important geoscience samples in long-term and well-documented repositories or collections, such as at museums, geological surveys, or universities. Please see the GSA Data Policy for Publications.

Supplemental material must be:

  • Central to the main scientific conclusions of the paper.

  • Likely to be usable by other scientists working in the field.

  • Described with sufficient precision that other scientists can understand the information.

  • In one of the required digital formats, within size constraints.

Supplemental files for GSA publications can be found on Figshare, our supplemental file hosting site. Supplemental files are linked via DOI from a footnote within its corresponding journal article or book chapter. 

Proper Formatting

In order to make it easier for readers to download supplemental material, your files may be merged into one PDF file or compiled into one zipped file before online posting. (Your supplemental material will not be converted to PDF in cases where this would cause the data to be unusable, such as in the case of MS Excel tables.) The following file types are acceptable:

  • Text files in MSWord, text, or rich text format (.doc, .docx, .rtf, .txt)
  • Table files in MSExcel format (.xls, .xlsx)
  • Figure files in .eps, .tif, .gif, .jpg. or .pdf format
  • PDF files (.pdf)
  • PowerPoint files (.ppt)
  • Zipped files (.zip)

Multimedia files will be provided as separate files on Figshare, our supplemental file hosting site. Multimedia files can be in .avi, .gif, .fla, .mov, .mp3, .mpeg, .mpg, .pdf (layered or interactive), .swf, and .wmv formats.

Geosphere Multimedia Files

Geosphere Supplemental/Interactive Files. One of the goals of Geosphere is to provide a venue for innovative papers and materials that don't fit into traditional print journal formats. The journal encourages the use of animations, maps with layers that can be manipulated, large format maps, and other multimedia, interactive file types.

Supplemental files should be in a format that does not require proprietary software or in a format that has a downloadable free viewer.

Geosphere accepts almost all format types for supplemental files, and the journal does not impose size limits on supplemental file types. However, the submission system will not accept files over 50 MB. If you have questions about your supplemental file format or its size, please contact Geosphere.

Supplemental files can be zipped together and can appear as separate files within or linked to an accepted paper.

Citing Supplemental Files for Geosphere. Supplemental files must have an in-text citation, such as "Supplemental File S1," and the first citation should include a footnote to a caption for the supplemental file. The caption should include a brief description of the supplemental file and any software needed to view the file.


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Contact Information

Geology Questions:

Kea Giles, Managing Editor
tel: +1-303-357-1057

Jennifer Olivarez, Editorial Assistant
tel: +1-303-357-1010

Mailing Address:
The Geological Society of America
Publications Department
3300 Penrose Place
PO Box 9140
Boulder, CO 80301-9140
tel: +1-303-357-1000
fax: +1-303-357-1070