Report Preparation Guidelines | Style Sheet

Quick Start | Content Guidelines | Formatting Tips | Submission Guidelines


To assist authors preparing an MIT annual report, this style guide describes the information desired in each report and gives simple guidelines for submitting the document.

Quick Start

  1. Reports are due on Friday, August 5, 2016. Remember that your report refers to the period July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016! Don't include information about prior years unless pertinent to the present year, and avoid repeating information presented in the prior year's report. Don't include descriptions of events occurring on or after July 1, 2016; if you absolutely must mention future events, do so sparingly and be brief.
  2. If you've done this before, you can use last year's report as a model. Please take a look at some of the other reports, too, especially those covering comparable areas. You might find an idea worth emulating.
  3. If you are new to this exercise, or would like a refresher, our content guidelines identify the kinds of information that are considered essential for preserving the continuity of MIT's historical record. These suggestions have been provided by the staff of the Institute Archives.
  4. Write for a non-MIT audience: spell out acronyms, especially those unique to MIT.
  5. Make sure your story will be understandable in the future. Think about what is important to preserve for the Institute's historical memory. Write your report as if you're reading it 10 or 20 years from now. Will readers of the future know what project you're referring to by just its acronym?
  6. Be concise!
  7. Before submitting your report, please review our submission guidelines.

Content Guidelines

Relevant information in all reports

Additional information from academic units

Formatting and Other Tips

Word File

Please use Heading 1, Heading 2, and so on for headings, and Normal for the body text. Please do not include headers, footers, or page numbers in your document.


Report authors are not expected to adopt any particular editorial style, but if you're curious about the decisions that editors make and the house style we follow, we invite you to refer to our style sheet.

All reports are copyedited prior to publication. Usually this is a routine matter, and you will not be asked to review the edited report. We contact you, however, if we have questions.

Tables, Charts, and Other Graphics

NEW: Reference Publications strives to produce reports that fully comply with IS&T's accessibility guidelines. To help us achieve that goal, please follow these revised guidelines.

If including graphics, include only those that complement or expand upon the text. For example, don't include a table that summarizes all the data outlined in a preceding paragraph: choose one or the other. Consider that your graphic may be so compelling that others will want to use it: make sure it has a title, that the labels make sense and are legible, and double check that your math adds up! Also, if your graphic has already been published elsewhere, be sure to obtain permission to reproduce it and cite the publication source.

NEW: Each graphic must be accompanied by a short description, or "alt text," that summarizes it for the visually impaired. Include the title and source of the graphic in the alt text. Place this text in the report as a separate paragaph where the graphic should be placed.

Don't embed Excel tables in your Word document. Instead, create the table in Microsoft Word. Also, don't use spaces or empty columns to format your table. If you need assistance in creating or formatting your table, just let us know.

If submitting a chart generated from Excel, please provide the original Excel file too. Be sure that there is sufficient contrast between chart colors (including text), and make sure your file is editable in case we need to adjust them.

If you are updating tables used in last year's report, please use the final version of the Word file containing your report, as the tables are already formatted and new data can easily be added.

For ease of reference, tables are usually numbered consecutively when there are many tables in a report. If you number your tables, use arabic numerals (Table 1, Table 2) and position the number and title of the table in the topmost table row.


Digital photos in any of the standard formats may be submitted, though we prefer high-quality jpgs. Just name the photos per the instructions above and attach them to your email message.

In the text of the report, indicate photo locations with a parenthetical notation: (Figure 1 here). Photos will usually be aligned with the relevant paragraph.

Do not embed the photos in your report. Even if you submit photos separately and wish only to show us the intended photo layout, Microsoft Word does not always handle embedded photos gracefully.

Be sure to include a brief caption for each photo, indicating the filename of the photo it corresponds to. Include the caption in the report on a separate line or paragraph where it should be inserted.


Try to ensure that your links are permanent. Embed your links in the text, spelling out URLs only when needed.

Author name(s)

Remember to include the author's name and title(s) at the end of the report. Except in unusual circumstances, the author of the report is the senior officer or DLC head in office on June 30, 2016.

Submission Guidelines

How to submit your report

Submitting your report is easy. Just send the electronic files via email to In your message, please identify your report (document title and electronic file name) and other attachments so that we can be sure we have received everything we need. If you have many photos or very large file sizes, please contact us for alternate submission instructions.

Naming files

For easy identification, please use file names that begin with an acronym or a shortened form of your office/department's name. Use the same name for photos and other graphics accompanying the report and number them in sequence: fig 1, fig 2, fig 3 (we do not differentiate between photos and charts or other graphs, so please number them consecutively). Name the caption file using the same method. For example, the Reference Publications report might include the following files:



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