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Guidelines for writing optimal titles and abstracts for DMM articles

Guidelines for titles

Titles should be 120 characters or less (including spaces) and should clearly and concisely summarise your specific findings. Colons and specialist abbreviations should not be used.

The title should give the ‘punchline’ of the paper.

• Avoid “Characterization/Studies of X and Y”
• Avoid using the words 'new' or 'novel' (as claims of newness or novelty can be difficult to substantiate)
• Avoid misleading titles
• Avoid specialist terms
• Avoid long or overly detailed titles (keep it short)*
• Never give the title in the form of a question
• Use active verbs (drives, promotes, inhibits)
• Organism/species need not be mentioned, but the disease or disorder should be included

*Some studies have shown that papers with shorter titles could be more likely to be read and potentially cited (see

Examples of optimised titles

Original: Lifespan analysis of brain development, gene expression and behavioral phenotypes in the Ts1Cje, Ts65Dn and Dp(16)1/Yey mouse models of Down syndrome
Final: Three mouse models of Down Syndrome show distinct brain development, gene expression and behavioral phenotypes

Original: Progesterone induces neuroprotection following reperfusion-promoted mitochondrial dysfunction after focal cerebral ischemia in rats
Final: Progesterone attenuates mitochondrial damage after cerebral ischemic injury in rats

Original: High-throughput screen for compounds that modulate neurite growth of human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived neurons
Final: High-content image-based screen identifies new compounds that modulate neurite outgrowth of human iPSC-derived neurons

Original: Beneficial effects of exercise on gut microbiota functionality and barrier integrity, and gut-liver crosstalk in an in vivo model of early obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
Final: Exercise counteracts diet-induced microbiota dysfunction, obesity and hepatic steatosis in rats

Guidelines for abstracts

The abstract should be no more than 180 words. It should succinctly and clearly introduce the topic of the paper - placing the study in the wider context of human disease - summarise the main findings, and highlight the significance of the data and main conclusions in terms of increasing our understanding or treatment of human disease. The conceptual advance and/or translational impact should be clearly written in a way that is accessible to a wide audience. For Resource articles, the translational implications of new methods and resources should be made clear.

The abstract is used by abstracting services without modification and is often read more frequently than the full paper, and therefore needs to be comprehensible in its own right. Do not include subheadings or references, and avoid any non-standard abbreviations.

An abstract should tell a story, as illustrated below, and act as ‘quick pitch’.

Examples of optimised abstracts

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