Style Guide

General Style

The Journal of Extension (JOE) editorial style aligns with standards set forth in the current edition of Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (https://apastyle.apa.org/). The Purdue University Online Writing Lab provides an accessible and current overview of APA 7th edition style: http://bit.ly/APA7overview.

The journal's style guidelines also reflect discipline-specific customizations for Extension education and supersede any contradictory APA recommendations. Topics are arranged alphabetically.

Before submitting manuscripts to JOE, authors must apply the Manuscript Submission Checklist to their work.


In general, it is appropriate to use an abbreviation only if (a) it is conventional and readers are broadly more familiar with the abbreviation than with the complete form (e.g., "DNA") or (b) considerable word count can be saved and cumbersome repetition avoided. If an abbreviation will be used fewer than three times, you serve readers better by writing out the term each time. Terms should be written out in the first instance in each article (e.g., "U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)"), followed by the abbreviation in all subsequent uses.

For the term Cooperative Extension System, you may use the shortened forms Cooperative Extension and Extension without introducing a shortened form at first use.

Spell out "United States" when the term functions as a noun and use "U.S." when it functions as an adjective. Use periods in the abbreviation (i.e., "U.S.").

Use standard Latin abbreviations, such as "e.g." and "etc.," only in parenthetical material; in non-parenthetical material, use the English translations, such as "for example" and "and so forth."

Active Voice

To improve clarity and readability, use the active voice wherever possible.


Avoid anthropomorphizing when discussing studies, projects, programs, and so on. For example, it is incorrect to say that a study sought something or that a program developed something; people seek and develop things.


If you include one appendix in a manuscript, label it with the word "Appendix," and title it. If you include more than one appendix in a manuscript, include capital letters in the appendix labels (e.g., "Appendix A," "Appendix B"), and title each appendix.

Center the label and title for an appendix, on separate lines, at the top of the appendix. Apply title-case capitalization style, and make the label and title bold.

Refer to any appendix in the body of the manuscript.

Bias-Free Language

Make every attempt to avoid using biased language. Use "her or him" or "they" to avoid gender bias. Do not use "America" to mean "the United States" (unless it is part of a common idiom, e.g. "rural America") or "American" to mean "U.S."

Boldface, Italics, and Underlining

Use italics (not boldface) for emphasis. In general, emphasize text in this manner sparingly.

Do not italicize Extension program names unless doing so is necessary for clarity (e.g., for clarity in a table title).

Italicize labels for points on a scale (e.g., "1 (poor) to 5 (excellent)").

Do not italicize foreign phrases and abbreviations found in Webster's dictionary (unless listed as a foreign word/phrase), Greek letters, or subscripts to statistical symbols.

Do not use underlining.


Use capitalization sparingly and in accordance with the APA 7th edition guidelines (pp. 165-169).

Capitalize a noun that names a region of the United States (e.g., "the South") but not an adjective derived from that noun (e.g., "southern").

Capitalize a professional title only when it immediately precedes and thus is used as part of a person's name (e.g., "President Joseph R. Biden," "Biden is president of the United States").

If the first word after a colon begins a complete sentence, capitalize the word.

Authors should use the capitalized term "Extension" in any context related specifically to any aspect of the U.S. Cooperative Extension System. Use the lowercase term "extension" when discussing outreach education in a general way. Authors should not capitalize Extension program area names (e.g., 4-H/youth development, agriculture and natural resources, community and economic development, family and consumer sciences). Authors should capitalize specific Extension program names (e.g., Minnesota's 4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge program).

Citations and References List

All submissions must include scholarly citations in APA 7th edition style: in-text citations, accompanied by a References list.

In general, include an in-text citation in each sentence in which you present information from a source. If an entire paragraph is based on one source, it is permissible to find an elegant way to indicate that circumstance without including a formal citation in each sentence.

For a direct quotation, cite the exact position of the quoted material in the source text. Typically, this involves identifying a page number. For online sources that do not use page numbers, identify the section and paragraph number.

For works having one or two authors, include all author names in all citations. For works having three or more authors, include only the name of the first author and "et al." If you are citing a work with 21 or more authors, consult the APA 7th edition guidelines (p. 286).

Apply alphabetical order to two or more works within the same parenthetical citation.

Ensure that information (e.g., spellings of author names, order of author names, date) is consistent between a citation and its associated entry in the References list. Also, ensure that all sources cited in the body of a manuscript are included in the References list and that all sources included in the References list are cited in the body of the manuscript.

Do not use a hanging indent for References section entries.

Citations and references section entries must be ordinary text, free from any underlying codes an author may have used in creating them. Authors who use citation management tools in developing their manuscripts must remove the associated formatting.

Citations for common software and apps, including certain survey software and statistical programs, are not required. Beyond examples listed in the current APA manual, submissions need not include citations for familiar videoconferencing platforms (e.g., Zoom, WebEx), presentation software (e.g., Prezi), or data analysis software (e.g., NVivo).

The body of a manuscript may contain hyperlinks. The anchor text for a link must be the applicable URL, not descriptive text (e.g., "Information is available from Clemson University Press at "http://www.clemson.edu/press" not "Information is available from Clemson University Press"). Authors should check links immediately before submission; it is not the responsibility of the editorial team to ensure that a link is (or remains) active.

Neither footnotes nor end notes are permitted.


Do not use contractions (unless they appear in direct quotations).


Authors should use month-day-year order for dates, in general. If inclusion of many full dates is required, day-month-year style (with the names of the months abbreviated) may be used.


Abbreviate most units of measurement when they are used with specific numbers. Authors can find examples of abbreviations for units of measurement in the current APA manual.

In identifying units of measurement, authors do not need to use or include metric system units and instead should use the unit of measurement with which the target audience for a manuscript will be most familiar. Use superscript where applicable (i.e., "km2" not "sq. km.").

Standard abbreviations for units of measurement do not need to be written out on first use. Common abbreviations for units of measurement are as follows:

  • inch: in.
  • acre: ac.
  • hour (when used with a specific number): hr.
  • minute (when used with a specific number): min.
  • second (when used with a specific number): s.


Authors should adhere to usage standards for scholarly writing by applying proper rather than common usage.

Submissions should avoid jargon and short-cut language (such as the term post-then-pre) even if the phrase is in prevalent use within Extension. The primary exception is the name Cooperative Extension System, which may be abbreviated as Cooperative Extension or Extension as desired and without introducing either shortened form on first use.

Reporting Standards

All submissions should follow the journal article reporting standards outlined in the current APA manual to the extent appropriate for the research. However, due to the variation in the journal's content, a rigidly prescribed structure is not always appropriate. Authors are encouraged to include within manuscripts (or provide as supplemental material) questionnaires, interview protocols, code for mathematical models, and so on.


Spellings should conform to the online edition of Webster's Dictionary; if a word is not included therein, authors should consult an unabridged edition of Webster's Dictionary. In general, authors should apply the first spelling in all cases, including for plurals. (The APA manual contradicts Webster's Dictionary regarding spelling of the plural form of the word "appendix"; where such discrepancies exist, use the first spelling in the dictionary.)

Authors should consult the APA Dictionary of Psychology (https://dictionary.apa.org) for correct names of statistical terms (e.g., "Wilcoxon rank-sum test," "Wilcoxon signed-ranks test").