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Author Guidelines

Author Guidelines

Carefully read the submission guidelines as follows:

This document, which is based on an earlier document by Minton et al., (1999), describes the required formatting of JMLSC papers, including margins, fonts, citation styles, and figure placement. It describes how authors can obtain file that will ease adherence to the requirements. It also contains a section on avoiding formatting errors that frequently appear in JMLSC submissions. While the format requirements are only compulsory for final submissions, we encourage authors to adopt and adhere to its recommendations throughout the submission process.

Keywords: format, Microsoft word template

1 Introduction
To ensure that all articles published in the journal have a uniform appearance, authors must produce a PostScript or PDF document that meets the formatting specifications outlined here. The document will be used for both the hardcopy and electronic versions of the journal.
This document briefly describes and illustrates the JMLSC format. It draws very heavily from an earlier document by Minton et al., (1999). Your article should look as similar as possible to PostScript version or PDF version of this document, or to the JMLR sample article which can be found at Below we outline the basic specifications, including font sizes, margins, etc. However, the point is to have your articles look similar to the sample, and when in doubt you should use the sample as your guide. Please feel free to contact the editor of JMLSC if you have any questions.
The remainder of this document is organized as follows. Section 2 describes the style and formatting requirements for JMLSC papers. Section 3 describes how to obtain the formatting templates that should simplify following the requirements, and Section 4 describes common formatting errors that should be avoided.

2 Style and Format
Papers must be printed in the single column format as shown in the enclosed sample. Margins should be 1 1/4 inch left and right. Headers should be 1/2 inch from top and footer should be 1 inch from bottom of page. Title should start 1 1/2 inches from the top of the page.

2.1 Fonts
You should use Times Roman style fonts. Please be very careful not to use nonstandard or unusual fonts in the paper. Including such fonts will cause problems for many printers.
Headers and Footers should be in 9pt type. The title of the paper should be in 14pt bold type. The abstract title should be in 11pt bold type, and the abstract itself should be in 10pt type. First headings should be in 12 point bold type and second headings should be in 11 point bold type. The text and body of the paper should be in 11 point type.

2.2 Title and Authors
The title appears near the top of the first page, centered. Authors' names should appear in designated areas below the title of the paper in twelve point bold type. Authors' affiliations and complete addresses should be in italics, and their electronic addresses should be in small capitals (see sample article).

2.3 Abstract
The abstract appears at the beginning of the paper, indented 1/4 of an inch from the left and right margins. The title ``Abstract'' should appear in bold face 11 point type, centered above the body of the abstract. The abstract body should be in 10 point type.

2.4 Headings and Sections
When necessary, headings should be used to separate major sections of your paper. First-level headings should be in 12 point bold type and second-level headings should be in 11 point bold type. Do not skip a line between paragraphs. Third-level headings should also be in 11 point bold type. All headings should be capitalized. After a heading, the first sentence should not be indented.
References to sections (as well as figures, tables, theorems and so on), should be capitalized, as in ``In Section 4, we show that...''.

2.4.1 Appendices
Appendices, if included, follow the acknowledgments. Each appendix should be lettered, e.g., ``Appendix A''. If online appendices are submitted, they should not be included in the final manuscript (see below), although they may be referred to in the manuscript. They will be published online in separate files. The online appendices should be numbered and referred to as Online Appendix 1, Online Appendix 2, etc.

2.4.2 Acknowledgements
The acknowledgments section, if included, appears after the main body of the text and is headed ``Acknowledgments.'' The section should not be numbered. This section includes acknowledgments of help from associates and colleagues, financial support, and permission to publish.

2.5 Figures and Tables
Figures and tables should be inserted in proper places throughout the text. Do not group them together at the beginning of a page, nor at the bottom of the paper. Number figures sequentially, e.g., Figure 1, and so on.
The figure or table number and the caption should appear under the illustration. Leave a margin of one-quarter inch around the area covered by the figure and caption. Captions, labels, and other text in illustrations must be at least nine-point type.
At present, some types of illustrations in your manuscript may cause problems for some printers/previewers. Although this is gradually becoming less of an issue, we encourage authors to use ``reliable'' programs for producing figures. Before your paper can be accepted, we must verify that all your figures print successfully on our printers and may be viewed with Adobe Acrobat Reader or Ghostview.

Table 1. Note well that JMLSC expects table captions below the table. >= 9pt font.

2.6 Headers and Footers
The first page of your article should include the journal name, volume number, year and page numbers in the upper left corner, the submission date and publication date in the upper right corner, and the copyright notice in the lower left corner. The editor will let you know the volume number, year, pages, submission date and publication date.
On the even numbered pages, the header of the page should be the authors' names. On the odd pages, starting with page 3, the header should be the title of the paper (shortened if necessary, as in the sample).

2.6.1 Page Numbering and Publication Date
Upon completion of your article and final approval of the editor, you will be assigned a page number that should be the first page of your article. You should number the remainder of your article accordingly. Page numbers should appear at the bottom of the page in the center. You will also be assigned a volume number and publication date that you will use in the header.
Tip for Microsoft Word users: To start your page numbering at, say, 50, go to Insert / Page Numbers / Format / Start at: 50.

2.6.2 Footnotes
We encourage authors to use footnotes sparingly, especially since they may be difficult to read online. Footnotes should be numbered sequentially and should appear at the bottom of the page, as shown below.

2.7 References
The reference section should be labeled ``References'' and should appear at the end of the paper in natbib format. A sample list of references is given in Appendix A. Poorly prepared, incomplete or sloppy references reflect badly on the quality of your scholarship. Please prepare complete and accurate citations.

Citations within the text should include the author's last name and year, for example (Cheeseman, 1992). Append lower-case letters to the year in cases of ambiguity, as in (Cheeseman, 1993a). Multiple authors should be treated as follows: (Cheeseman & Englemore 1988) or (Englemore, Cheeseman & Buchanan, 1992). In the case of three or more authors, the citation can be shortened by referring only the first author, followed by ``et al.'', as in (Clancey et al., 1991). Multiple citations should be separated by a semi-colon, as in (Cheeseman, 1993a; Buntine, 1992). If two works have the same author or authors, the appropriate format is as follows: (Drummond 1990, 1991).
If the authors' names are mentioned in the text, the citation need only refer to the year, as in ``Cheeseman and Englemore (1988) showed that...''.

In general, you shouldn't have parenthetical statements embedded in parenthetical statements. Therefore, citations within parenthetical statements should not be embedded in parentheses. Use commas as separators instead. For instance, rather than ``(as shown by Bresina (1992))'' you should write ``(as shown by Bresina, 1992)''. Similarly, ``(e.g., (Bresina, 1992))'' should be ``(e.g., Bresina, 1992). Note that the natbib style file supports the inclusion of prefixes in citations.

3 Avoiding Common Errors
As we do the final editing passes on JMLSC papers, we find a fairly consistent set of problems repeated over and over. Here's a list of them. JMLSC won't enforce conformity with these rules, but it would certainly please the editors if you followed them.

3.1 Dashes
Dashes should be used--with care--to set off interjections in a sentence. They should be long and there should not be spaces between them and the preceding and following words.

3.2 Lower case names
The names of fields, algorithms, methods, etc., should be in lower case: cognitive science, reinforcement learning, principal components analysis. Exceptions are when they are in names of organizational entities, like Cognitive Science Department, or when they include proper names, such as Markov decision processes or Gaussian densities, or Bayes' rule.

3.3 Latin abbrevs.
Scientists seem to like to use the Latin abbreviations i.e. and e.g. First, I'd like to encourage you to try to do without them. If you can't, then use the English equivalents (``that is'' instead of i.e. and ``for example'' instead of e.g.) If you really love the Latin (then you're a Latin lover?) you should at least do it right. There should be a period after each letter (because they're abbreviations), and there should be a comma after the expression.

3.4 Equation numbers
Only number equations that are actually referred to later in the text.

3.5 Citations
Citations are not nouns. It is not correct to say ``Using the method of (Smith, 1999), we ...'' Instead, say ``Using the method of Smith (1999), we ...'' or ``Using the method of partial discombobulation (Smith, 1999), we ....''. See the section on references (Section 2.7) for more details on correct and incorrect citation forms.

3.6 Punctuate math
Sentences with mathematical statements in them are still sentences, subject to the usual rules of grammar and punctuation. As Knuth et al.,(1989) say, you should test this by reading out your paper with things like ``snort'' and ``grunt'' substituted in for the mathematics and listening to see whether it's grammatically correct.
It often improves readability if the punctuation in displayed equations is moved out to the right a bit. Never put a footnote directly after a mathematical expression; it is too easily confused with an exponent.

3.7 Hyphenating compound nouns
When you have a long string of nouns together, they often need hyphenation to make the meaning clear (and to make your editor happy). Here are some examples of correct expressions:
reinforcement learning
reinforcement-learning algorithm
delayed-reinforcement learning (learning from delayed reinforcement)
delayed reinforcement learning (reinforcement learning that is delayed)
What are the rules? Here's a simple view: by default, modifiers bind to the phrase to their right. If you want to override that, then you need to use a hyphen. Consider the string of words ``country chicken pump dispenser'' (seen in an actual catalog). A ``pump dispenser'' is either something that dispenses pumps or that dispenses by pumping. A ``chicken pump dispenser'' is, perhaps, a pump dispenser in the shape of a chicken. But a ``chicken-pump dispenser'' is something that dispenses chicken pumps. The object in the catalog was a soap dispenser in the shape of a country chicken (as opposed to a city chicken, I guess) with a pump. So, probably, it should have been a ``country-chicken pump dispenser'', since ``pump'' modifies ``dispenser,'' ``country'' modifies ``chicken,'' and the phrase ``country chicken'' modifies ``pump dispenser.'' Whew. Many people think it's bad form to use such long strings of nouns anyway.

3.8 Don't use ``utilize.''

3.9 Don't start a section with a subsection
A section heading should never immediately follow another section heading without intervening text. So don't do this:
5. Experimental Results
5.1 Results on a Simulated Domain

Instead, do this:

5. Experimental Results
In this section, we first describe blah, blah, blah...
5.1 Results on a Simulated Domain

Who helped, funded, etc.

Appendix A: Natbib Reference Examples
Any appendix comes before the references. The following formatting examples are intended to be illustrative, not exhaustive. If you are uncertain about the proper format for a reference, please contact the JMLSC editors.
A.1. Book
Richard Bellman. Dynamic Programming. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1957.

A.2. Edited Book
Robert R. Bush and William K. Estes, editors. Studies in Mathematical Learning Theory. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, 1959.

A.3. Journal Article
Dana Angluin and Philip Laird. Learning from noisy examples. Machine Learning, 2(4):250-370, 1988.

A.4. Proceedings Paper
Charles W. Anderson. Strategy learning with multilayer connectionist representations. In Proceedings of the Fourth International Workshop on Machine Learning, pages 103-114, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1987.

A.5. Technical Report
Andrew G. Barto. Connectionist learning for control. Technical Report 89-89, Department of Computer and Information Science, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts, 1989.

A.6. Dissertation or Thesis
Michael L. Littman. Algorithms for Sequential Decision Making. PhD thesis, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, 1996.

A.7. Forthcoming Publication
Stephen H. Muggleton. Statistical aspects of logic-based machine learning. ACM Transactions on Computational Logic, forthcoming.
A.8. URL

WEKA Machine Learning Project.
In general, try to avoid giving URLs. If you must, make sure they are stable, for example, (, however, has merged). There are, unfortunately, many broken URLs in the literature. Consider creating a permanent URL at (You can update these indirect pointers at any time. Be sure to designate in your will who will be responsible for your PURLs after you retire.).

Patrick W. Daly. Natural sciences citations and references. Available online at, 1997.
Donald E. Knuth, Tracy L. Larrabee, and Paul M. Roberts. Mathematical Writing. Mathematical Association of America, Washington, D.C., 1989. ISBN 0-88385-063-X.
Mary Claire Van Leunen. A Handbook for Scholars. Oxford University Press, 1992.
Steven Minton, Martha Del Alto, and Helen Stewart. Instructions for formatting JAIR articles. Available electronically via, 1999.

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