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Guidelines for writing optimal titles, summary statements 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.

  • Organism/species need not be mentioned, but the disease or disorder should be included
  • 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)

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

Examples of optimised titles

  • Three mouse models of Down Syndrome show distinct brain development, gene expression and behavioral phenotypes
  • Localized heterochrony integrates overgrowth potential of oncogenic clones
  • Integrated multi-omics analysis of Huntington disease identifies pathways that modulate protein aggregation
  • In vivo quantitative high-throughput screening for drug discovery and comparative toxicology
  • Validation of DE50-MD dogs as a model for the brain phenotype of Duchenne muscular dystrophy
  • A hepatoprotective role of peritumoral non-parenchymal cells in early liver tumorigenesis

Guidelines for Summary statements

Summary statements are featured alongside your article details in the Table of Contents, and are a great way to bring the reader to your paper. Please provide a brief Summary statement of up to 30 words. They should explain, without overstatement, why someone should read the article. Please do not simply repeat the title, and avoid unfamiliar terms and abbreviations, as the text should be comprehensible to a broad scientific audience. We reserve the right to edit the text.

Examples of optimised Summary statements

  • This study shows, for the first time, a neuroprotective role for chaperone Hsp40 in suppressing circadian dysfunction associated with Huntington's disease in a Drosophila model.
  • This study provides a comprehensive and longitudinal molecular and phenotypic evaluation of the disease process of X-linked myotubular myopathy (XLMTM) in a murine model.

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 Resources & Methods 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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