Skip to Main Content
Michigan State University

Agriculture Research Guide: Wrtiting Styles and Citaitons

This is a general guide to finding information on agricultural subjects including crops, soils, forages, farm management, agricultural and biosystems engineering, and sustainable agriculture (SARE).

Style and Citaiton Guides

This is a short list of the various style and citation guides used in the agricultural, horticultural and botanical sciences.  If I'm forgetting a style and you'd like to see it listed, please contact me.

Plant Physiology
Style requested by the journal Plant Physiology. Details of these formats can be found at:

Soil Science Society of America
Author instructions for the Journal are in the pdf:
Note that there are very exacting citation formats and styles. The instructions list the following official sources of documentation they desire. They are linked to MSU Library resources if possible.
Official Sources
1. Spelling: Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary
2. Amendments to the U.S. system of soil taxonomy (Soil Survey Staff, 1975) have been issued in the National Soil Survey Handbook (USDA-NRCS, 2007, and in Keys to Soil Taxonomy (Soil Survey Staff, 2006;
3. Scientific names of plants: A Checklist of Names for 3000 vascular plants of Economic Importance (USDA Agric. Handb. 505, see also the USDA Germplasm
Resources Information Network database at [online through the NALDR - 1977 edition and the 1986 revision]
4. Chemical names of pesticides: Farm Chemicals Handbook (Meister Publishing, revised yearly) [new name as of 2003: Crop Protection Handbook
5. Soil series names: Soil Series of the United States, Including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands ( [USDA MP 1483; call no: US gov doc microfiche: A 1.38:1483
6. Fungal nomenclature: Fungi on Plants and Plant Products in the United States (APS Press) [call no: SB733 .F27 1989]
7. Journal abbreviations: Chemical Abstracts Service Source Index (American Chemical Society, revised yearly)
8. The Glossary of Soil Science Terms [call no: S592 .G58 2008] is available both in hard copy (SSSA, 2008) and on the SSSA Web page It contains definitions of more than 1800 terms, a procedural guide for tillage terminology, an outline of the U.S. soil classification system, and the designations for soil horizons and layers.

Writing Resources

Here are a few links and resources that you may want to know about for writing at an upper level.

Annotated Bibliography
This guide from Purdue defines and describes what an annotated bibliography is and its component parts necessary for writing one.

Writing and Presenting Your Thesis or Dissertation
Intended for Master's or Ph. D. candidates, this is a guide to the "quasi-political aspects" of the dissertation process. Topics also include selecting a supportive advisory committee, and preparing thesis and dissertation defense. Prepared by S. Joseph Levine, MSU Department of Agricultural and Extension Education. [Subject heading: Disserations, Academic--Handbooks, manuals, etc.]

MSU Writing Center - One-to-One Consulting
Upon scheduling an appointment at the writing center, you (or your small group) will work one-on-one with a writing center consultant to identify your writing strengths and weaknesses and clearly and effectively express your ideas. The Writing Center holds some appointments in the Library, but you must schedule an appointment.  Click here to Schedule an Appointment.

Books on Writing

English for Writing Research Papers [electronic resource] / Adrian Wallwork
New York : Springer April 2011
PE1478  Online

Essential communication strategies for scientists, engineers, and technology professionals [electronic resource] / Herbert L. Hirsch.
Piscataway, NJ : IEEE Press, 2003.
Print edition: T10.5. H57 2003

How to Write Technical Reports: Understandable Structure, Good Design, Convincing Presentation [electronic resource] / Lutz Hering.
New York : Springer Sept. 2010

Mastering scientific and medical writing [electronic resource] : a self-help guide / Silvia M. Rogers.
Berlin : Springer, c2007.
T11 .R642 2007  Online

Research design and proposal writing in spatial science [electronic resource] / Jay D. Gatrell, Gregory D. Bierly, Ryan R. Jensen.
Berlin ; New York : Springer, c2005.
G73 .G28 2005  Online
Print copy -  G73 .G38 2005 

Scientists Must Write [electronic resource]: A Guide to Better Writing for Scientists, Engineers and Students / Robert Barrass
New York: Routledge, 1978, 1990
T11  Online

Style and ethics of communication in science and engineering [electronic resource] / Jay D. Humphrey, Jeffrey W. Holmes.
San Rafael, Calif.: Morgan & Claypool Publishers, 2009.
T11 .H857 2009  Online

Style: Ten lessons in clarity & grace, 4th ed. / Joseph M. Williams
New York : HarperCollins College Publishers, 1994.
PE1421 .W545 1994

Style: Ten lessons in clarity & grace, 3rd ed. / Joseph M. Williams
Glenview, Ill.: Scott, Foresman, 1989.
PE1421 .W545 1989

Style: Ten lessons in clarity & grace, 5th ed. / Joseph M. Williams
Available only through MelCat

Writing for science [electronic resource] / Robert Goldbort
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.
T11 .G626 2006  Online