Publishing Your Book in the ASA-SIAM Series

Chapter 4 - Writing Your Manuscript

Authored Books

We recognize that each author's writing style is unique and we will not attempt to change it. The following suggestions are made to improve readability and usability. These are general guidelines and not all will be applicable to your book.


The preface will be read more widely than anything else in your book. It will be used by reviewers for postpublication reviews, potential buyers who are assessing your book, and readers who are using it. You should write informally in the first person.

Identify your primary audience. If you are writing on a new topic, explain it in simple terms. State the central theme and the book's purpose.

Tell why you wrote the book and why you feel the topic is important. If you purposely omitted topics, explain why. Describe the book's special features and material that cannot be found elsewhere.

If your book will be used as a textbook, state for which courses and list the prerequisites. If supplemental material is available electronically, give specific instructions on how to find it.

Describe the style of notation you are using and why. It is important to use the notation that is accepted in your field.

Grant information and acknowledgments can also be included in your preface.

Once you have completed your preface, ask yourself if this is a book that you would be interested in purchasing. (See Chapter 5 for more information.)


An outline of the book should be provided in the introduction. Before you begin the discussion, it is necessary to give an explanation of what information will be presented, how it will be presented, and why it will be presented in that way.

You should explain the topic and give background information on the area you are writing about. It is important to relate the topic to other mathematical areas. You should mention recent trends and new methods or techniques you have used. Remember to include their limitations.

An overview that explains the main features of the book, how it is organized, and how it can be used most effectively is very helpful. Give the rationale for the selection of content and organization and provide a one-sentence description of the contents for each chapter.

Define your goals in writing the book and identify the types of problems you have selected and why. Explain to your readers what learning about the topic will enable them to do. Have you included real-life applications that are a result of or involve the implementation of material presented in your book?

Discuss the hardware systems and software issues that you address or that are used in conjunction with your book.

Main Text

There are many good books that contain tips on effective writing. One we highly recommend is Handbook of Writing for the Mathematical Sciences, Second Edition by Nicholas J. Higham (SIAM, 1998). Our copy editors will check your text for typos, grammatical errors, mathematical inconsistencies, and spelling. They will not change your writing style.

Here are some things to keep in mind while writing:


The recommended reference styles are explained in the Organization and Numbering part of Chapter 5. However, it is also acceptable for you to pick a style that is accepted in your field and use it consistently throughout your book. Your references should be as complete and up-to-date as possible. (See Chapter 5 for more information.)

Supplemental Readings

Suggestions for additional reading are an asset to any publication. They can provide readers with a wealth of information. As with references, each suggested reading should be as complete as possible.


Effective use of appendices will make your book more reader friendly. The main body of your text should not be interrupted by extensive details. An appendix includes information that is essential but does not fit comfortably within the main part of the text. The most common use of an appendix is to present detailed analysis that would distract the reader if it were given at the point where the results of the analysis are needed. You could also include the following in an appendix: detailed proofs, tables, computer program listings, detailed numerical results, or additional readings. (See Chapter 5 for additional information.)


A good index greatly enhances the value of a book and is an important aid to the reader. We strongly encourage you to read our indexing guidelines, available from your acquisitions editor, before beginning the index. (See Chapter 5 for additional information.)

Edited Books

An edited book can result from a workshop or tutorial, or it might be in an area of research in which several people are required to present the material adequately. The goal of the book must be clear to your contributors for it to be clear to the reader. Each contributor should be told of the complete content of the volume, the focus, and the intended audience. Chapters should overlap just enough to provide a clear connection; avoid repetition of information. Provide each contributor with a preliminary preface. The following guidelines will help you prepare a successful volume.

An edited book will reflect the different writing styles of its contributors but otherwise it should be as consistent as possible.

Conference Proceedings

A proceedings volume should be more than a record of the conference, meeting, or workshop. It should give a summary of the state-of-the art developments in the areas covered and provide direction for future research. A tutorial introduction to the subject is required.

Papers should be organized in a logical fashion. The proceedings volume should be more than an alphabetical compendium of papers. The papers must be refereed by the editor before the manuscript is submitted to SIAM.

Preparing the Proceedings Paper

We encourage the use of TeX or LaTeX. Macros are available from the SIAM office. We will prepare special instructions to send to all authors of a proceedings volume.

A page limitation may be set and a copyright release will be required for each paper.

You and your SIAM editor will set a deadline. Papers will not be accepted after this date. Timeliness of publication is essential for proceedings. Unless deadlines are strictly adhered to, publication schedules can be delayed indefinitely. We will count on you to help us enforce this deadline.


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