House Style and Copy-Editing Practices
BPI House Style

When your manuscript is accepted for publication, it will be assigned to one of the BPI editors. She will copyedit your text, prepare your figures, and create a layout (galley) for your review.

The goal of good copyediting is not to rewrite your text, but to help you reach our audience as clearly and unambiguously as possible. We may edit your title for ease of archiving (that is, finding with search engines) and to fit our format; we might remove introductory statements that are too general or generic (references to “the entire history of the ever expanding world of biopharmaceuticals,” for example), and we will try to divide over-long sentences into more manageable “bites” for our readers. We will check your references to make sure our readers can access them.

BPI long ago decided to follow the ACS Style Guide. Its guidelines are most applicable to the range of technical and nontechnical articles that we publish. But the BPI audience comprises readers from many different disciplines, from engineering to microbiology, regulatory and quality oversight, and business management. They represent varying levels of expertise, from beginning to advanced knowledge, and many are nonnative English speakers. So we often define more terms than might be necessary in more specialized publications, for example. And acronyms often have different but seemingly similar definitions from discipline to discipline.

The important thing to remember is that BPI’s styles may be different from what you are used to seeing in your company publications and in other periodicals. In this industry, even what is considered a “standard” format can vary from person to person, company to company.

Other resources that guide our copyediting of your manuscript include

  • Webster’s Third International Dictionary

  • The Gregg Reference Manual

  • Chicago Manual of Style

A publication’s House Style document is often extensive (and idiosyncratic), existing mostly for internal use by editing staffs. It explains editing conventions to newer editors and enables a publication to ensure consistency of voice and identity. And as language changes over time, so will a periodical’s House Style change as well.

Here are some style issues we often encounter in author galley notations:

  1. We use MAb rather than mAb (and other variations).

  2. We use of CGMP rather than cGMP.

  3. We use the Oxford comma — always. That is, we always use a comma before the final “and” in a list. (Our rationale is that it is always correct, even if not entirely necessary, so why stop to think about it?)

  4. When it is appropriate, we prefer to change passive to active voice, as guided by overall style, readability, and clarity of communication. Procedures in your laboratories do not happen by magic: If a reader wants to reproduce your work, he or she will appreciate knowing, e.g., how many people were needed for a specific step in your process and who needed to do what.

  5. We do not use trademark and registration symbols except in specifically advertorial content. Merely using a symbol will not protect your tradename; it must be capitalized and used as an adjective with a generic noun (e.g., Kleenex tissue). We can, on request, list ownership of technologies at the end of an article — though it is not necessary for protection. To protect your and others’ valuable intellectual property, we edit all product names to appear as capitalized adjectives (so we add a noun after each one); and we prefer to substitute a generic term for a tradename wherever possible. Guidelines for proper use of trademark and registration symbols in technical publications can be found in the ACS Style Guide as well as in author guidelines for many other publications.

  6. We use American rather than British spelling — primarily for consistency.

  7. Among our general punctuation and typographic practices, we use standard hyphenation guidelines, do not italicize familiar Latin terms, make proper typographical use of en and em dashes (which might look odd to you), and defer to spelling that follows rules rather than exceptions.

  8. We pay strict attention to correct uses of this and thatthese and those, and which and thatSince (referring to time) is not used in place of because (emphasizing causality), and while is not used in place of although for a similar reason. We know that our readers are busy, so we don’t want them to stumble over ambiguous elements.

  9. We observe proper use of pronouns. In BPI, companies are singular “its,” we always write out “he or she” rather than use “he/she,” and a person is not a “they.” Using plural subjects is the easy fix for that! Similarly, if you refer to “the scientist” in your text, you are referring to one specific person, which is probably not what you mean to convey — so we will edit to “a scientist” or “scientists.” The is more specific than a and often overused, especially by nonnative speakers.

  10. And in relation to the note above, our preference, according to our generally less-academic style overall, is to use first-person (I, we, our) and sometimes second person (you) over more a formal, distancing third-person pronoun (one). BPI prefers to eschew a purely academic style in its technical papers, thus providing an accessible exchange of practical information. This slightly less formal approach helps build that sense of accessibility.