Journal of Marriage and Family (JMF) Style Guide

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The Journal of Marriage and Family (JMF) follows the American Psychological Association (APA) style, with some exceptions noted below. The journal’s standard spelling reference is Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition).

Manuscript Preparation

  • Manuscripts should be double-spaced, ragged right 12-point Times New Roman, with 1-inch margins. Pages should be numbered, beginning with “1” for the title page. Do not use different numbering for different sections, such as tables. Manuscripts should be no longer than approximately 35 pages total (reference list does not count toward page total).
  • A structured abstract of roughly 200–225 words should precede the body of the paper, in the following format:
    • Objective (1 sentence): Describe the objective of your study in one clear and succinct sentence.
    • Background (2-3 sentences): Briefly describe key background context that situates the importance of the study.
    • Method (2–3 sentences): Briefly overview of the sample (size, population, type [e.g., convenience sample, random probability sample]), design, measures, procedures, and analytical approach.
    • Results (2–3 sentences): Briefly summarize key results of the study.
    • Conclusion (1–2 sentences): State the conclusion of your study in one or two unambiguous and succinct sentences.
    • Implications (Optional): Succinctly summarize any implications of your findings for research, policy, or practice.
  • Use of the first-person point of view should be avoided in the abstract. The third-person point of view or alternate constructions are preferred.
  • If possible, provide a URL or pertinent citation at the first mention of a large-scale study, for example, “Data were taken from Wave X of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study ("
  • Except for author acknowledgments, JMF publishes neither footnotes nor endnotes so essential material should be incorporated into the text.
  • Neither the Journal Editor, Deputy Editors, nor anonymous reviewers, are permitted to be thanked in acknowledgment notes; the former could be construed as a potential conflict of interest and the latter is considered superfluous.

Empirical and Theoretical Contributions

  • Manuscripts should have strong potential to make substantial contributions to Family Science, both empirically and theoretically. The editor notes: “Such work may address unresolved theoretical or empirical puzzles, explore novel or changing phenomena, or revisit seemingly resolved questions using innovative data or methods. It may integrate previously distinct literatures to understand family life through a new lens. Or it may empirically answer questions of high salience to contemporary family life and policy. Although these examples are not exhaustive, success at JMF requires authors to clearly demonstrate how and why their research matters.”
  • Motivating the study solely by pointing to an empirical gap in knowledge is rarely sufficient to warrant consideration of a manuscript by JMF. 
  • It is not required that empirical contributions lead to an elaboration or refinement of an established theoretical perspective nor is it required that a specific established theoretical perspective be used to justify or frame the research questions. Rather, the manuscript should highlight the ways in which the empirical contributions advance theoretical knowledge by clarifying, extending or correcting current understandings from broader relevant bodies of research.

Research Design, Sampling, and Methodology

  • Sufficient detail about the research design and procedures should be provided so as to facilitate replication. Authors should err on the side of providing more rather than less information. Where necessary due to page limits, online supplements may be used for providing additional details of sampling strategies (for original data collection), questionnaire wording, coding decisions, interview schedules, experimental protocols etc.
  • Authors of quantitative analyses are encouraged but not required to provide their analysis code in an online supplement. 
  • In quantitative analyses, a precise accounting of the number of observations omitted for each exclusion criterion to arrive at the analytic sample should be included in the main text of the manuscript.
  • JMF does not require the use of probability samples that are representative of the population of interest. Regardless of the sampling strategy, a compelling justification for the data used should be provided, taking into consideration the research questions addressed, other sources of data available, and potential tradeoffs between internal and external validity imposed by the sampling strategy.  Attention should be given to the ways in which limitations of the data may influence the central conclusions of the study.
  • Manuscripts in which the central conclusions are based on null findings should demonstrate that the analysis has sufficient power to detect a significant effect.
  • Discussions of statistical significance should be accompanied by consideration of the relative magnitude and substantive importance of observed associations.

Article Headings

  • The heading structure for JMF articles is as follows:
    • As you'll observe in the image above, Level 1 headings are centered, smallcaps, and title case Level 2 headings are centered, italic, and title case. Level 3 headings are flush right, italic, and title case. Level 4 headings are indented, italic, sentence case, and end with a period. 
  • Articles typically have the following headings: “Method,” “Results” or “Findings,” “Discussion,” and “References.” They may have additional major headings, such as “Background.”
  • If only three levels of heading are used, they would be Level 1, Level 2, and Level 4.
  • There should be at least two subheadings in each section, although a section is not required to have subheadings.

Online Supporting Materials

  • Analyses (or other information, including data and/or code) that are not essential to the printed article, but that are necessary to provide useful information about the dataset and measures or support the rationale for the analytic approach, can be submitted as appendixes and published in the online version of the article. The online availability of supporting material should be stated in the manuscript. Author guidelines for preparing supporting material, including acceptable formats and file sizes, are available online at Wiley Author Services. The online supplemental appendix should be no more than 10 pages in length.

Numbers and Statistics

  • Scale endpoints should be italicized; for example, “Responses were made on a scale that ranged from 1 (never) to 6 (four or more times daily).” When all items of a scale are listed, or if the responses were simply in yes/no form, please use quotation marks.
  • Nouns that modify numbers are generally capitalized—for example, Model 1, Table 2, Hypothesis 3, Wave 1, Figure 1, Column 2, Level 1.
  • Greek characters should not be italicized.
  • In tables and text, use a zero before a decimal point in a number less than 1 if a statistic could exceed 1. Do not use a zero before a decimal point where a statistic could not exceed 1. Examples of statistics that cannot exceed 1 are α, β, p, correlation coefficients, CFI, and SRMR. Examples of statistics that can exceed 1 are b, B, CI, df, eβ, effect sizes, %, OR, SD, SE, and RMSEA.
  • Use two decimal places (and no more) for reporting statistics in tables.

General and APA-Specific Guidelines

  • Words such as while and since should be used only in reference to time (alternatives: although, whereas, but, because).
  • Do not use italics for emphasis; this type of formatting is reserved for the first occurrence of a key term or label and for words used as linguistic examples (e.g., “Often nevertheless or but is a good substitute for however”). Use quotation marks for in-text quotations of fewer than 40 words and—sparingly—to indicate ironic comments or invented expressions. Quotation marks around ironic expressions are dropped after the first occurrence. Quoted material of 40 or more words should be indented as a block quote.
  • Results should be described in the past tense.
  • The tense used in the literature review varies depending on content. The present tense is used to describe general theoretical understandings or conclusions but past tense when referencing specific results of past studies. See examples below:
    Past tense: Specific results of past studies
    Williams (2010) found that…

    Present perfect tense: General theoretical conclusions or understandings
    Many scholars (Smith, 2005; Smith & Jones, 2010; Wilson, 2004) have shown that a focus on average consequences of family transitions obscures important heterogeneity.   

Tables and Figures

  • To facilitate the review process, Tables and Figures should be embedded in the text for review, rather than placed at the end as will be required after acceptance. In preparing an accepted manuscript for copyediting, we ask each table and figure be moved to the end of the manuscript on its own page, with callouts in the manuscript text indicating, for example, (Table 1 about here).
  • Tables and figures should be described in the text in numerical order. They should stand alone, without the need to refer to the text for interpretation; thus, all abbreviations in each separate table and figure should be spelled out in the table note or figure caption. Explain the meaning of scales, numbers, and variables in the table note or figure caption (e.g., “All bolded terms are weighted to U.S. norms”).
  • Reference categories for categorical/dichotomous variables should be clearly indicated in the table.
  • Analytic sample sizes should be provided in each table and/or for each model if they vary across models.
  • Use two decimal places (and no more) for reporting statistics in tables.


  • The following example shows how table numbers and titles should be formatted:
    Table 1. Fit Statistics for Mixture Modeling Identifying the Number of Family System Trajectories
  • Construct tables in Microsoft Word; use the decimal tab in the ruler to align decimals.
  • Consult JMF’s table webpage for sample tables.


  • The following example shows how figure numbers, titles, and legends should be formatted (in smallcaps and title case, with a period after the figure number):
  • Do not embed figure numbers, titles, or captions in the figure artwork. The artwork should remain separate.
  • All artwork throughout the article must be in grayscale. The journal publishes no color elements, although online materials can be in color.


  • List in-text parenthetical citations in alphabetical, not temporal, order, for example, (Benton & Mays, 1999; Chan, 1998; Farmer, 1999a, 1999b; Jones, 1992, 1999; Jones, Armstrong, & Hayes, 2001; Zindel et al., 2001).
  • The reference list should be double spaced, with hanging indents, in APA style, and alphabetized. Include only references that are cited in the text. Please supply a Digital Object Identifier for all pertinent entries in the following format: doi:xxxxxxx.
  • Please note that page numbers are required for all book chapters.
  • Entries with eight or more authors should include the names of the first six authors, an ellipsis, and the name of the final author.
  • If a source is available most readily online, provide a URL.
  • The following is an exception to APA style: Include the state’s postal code (e.g., IL, CO) or the country to avoid confusion or if the city is not well known for publishing. There is no need to include the state postal code if the name of the state is part of the publisher’s name (e.g., “Columbia: University of Missouri Press”). The following cities can stand alone: Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Jerusalem, London, Milan, Moscow, Paris, Rome, Stockholm, Tokyo, and Vienna.
  • Give publishers in as brief a form as possible; remove The, Publishers, Co., and Inc., but retain terms such as Books and Press (e.g., Basic Books, Blackwell, Erlbaum, Macmillan, Sage, Wiley).
  • The title of the journal prior to 2001 was Journal of Marriage and the Family; from 2001 onward it has been Journal of Marriage and Family.

JMF-Specific Style Terms

  • JMF encourages authors to follow APA guidelines on bias-free language. For example:
    • Capitalizing racial and ethnic groups (e.g., “Black,” “Korean American”)
    • Use of an individual’s self-identified pronouns (e.g., “she,” “they,” “he”) and use of “they” as a generic, singular pronoun when gender is not known or not relevant
    • Appropriate specificity in descriptors (e.g., “people with incomes below the federal poverty level” rather than “the poor”)
  • cohabitor and cohabiter are both acceptable
  • “race/ethnicity” is acceptable as are alternate constructions (race or ethnicity; race and ethnicity)
  • fixed effects (remains open as a unit modifier)
  • Second Demographic Transition
  • GED (n., does not need to be spelled out)
  • heteroskedasticity
  • event-history (adj.)
  • pairfam, short for German Family Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics Study
  • life course
  • leave http:// and https:// in URLs

Brief Report Guidelines

  • JMF encourages brief reports or research notes for significant or timely contributions (e.g., replications, innovative designs, and important null findings) that do not require full-length manuscripts. 
  • The background presents a brief description of the theoretical framework and prepares the reader for the sample, the measures, and the analytic strategy. It includes a succinct review of only the literature directly relevant to these points.
  • Readers should get to the method by page 5 or 6 (title page is p. 1, abstract is p. 2). The method and results sections are not much different from a full-length manuscript.
  • Rather than a discussion, include a conclusion summarizing the major findings, limitations, and a brief statement of the study's contribution. Generally, the conclusion runs around 3 pages.
  • The brief report should not exceed 25 pages, including the abstract, text, tables, and figures.

Updated May 2024

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