AAPT.org - American Association of Physics Teachers

Information for Contributors to TPT

The Physics Teacher Cover 

The focus of The Physics Teacher is on the introductory-level physics course. The papers we publish are aimed at teachers of that course in high schools, two- and four-year colleges, and universities.

Papers reporting the results of research projects or announcing new physics theories are not suitable for The Physics Teacher.

Technical correctness is only one factor used in the selection of papers for publication. The principal criterion for acceptance is whether, in the opinion of the editors, the paper would be sufficiently useful and interesting to practicing teachers of introductory-level physics.

Organization and clarity of presentation are very important. We suggest that authors ask a colleague to read and critique their manuscripts before submission. Authors whose native language is not English should have someone with an excellent command of written English read their manuscript to improve the grammar and usage.

Manuscripts are considered for publication under the condition that they have been submitted only to The Physics Teacher and have not been published or accepted for publication elsewhere.

Manuscripts failing to meet the guidelines given in this document are likely to be returned to the authors.

Guidelines for Manuscript Preparation

Literature search

A complete literature search must be performed. Authors should especially make sure that a similar paper has not already appeared in The Physics Teacher by checking the searchable index at TPT-Online. Related papers that were published in this journal or elsewhere should be cited as references.


Papers published in The Physics Teacher are generally quite short compared to those appearing in many other journals. Manuscripts should normally not exceed 2000 words. Occasionally, a longer manuscript of up to 4000 words (3000 words with pictures and diagrams) may be considered. However, the author must first submit a brief description and an outline for preliminary approval. These should be accompanied by a statement explaining why the material requiring the additional page space would be useful and interesting enough to readers to warrant publication.

In some cases, a paper that would otherwise exceed the TPT length limit can be shortened through the use of an online appendix. The appendix does not appear in the print edition of TPT but is cited in an endnote (see the section on EPAPS below).

Short manuscripts

We especially welcome very brief submissions (1000 words or less) for consideration as papers or as contributions to our various monthly columns.

Level and style

Papers should be appropriate to as broad an audience as possible. Authors should not assume that the reader possesses background information in a specialized field. When uncommon technical terms are essential, they should be defined when first used. Mathematics up to the level of differential and integral calculus may be used as needed.

The AIP Style Manual [American Institute of Physics, 4th ed. (1990)], contains useful information on the preparation of manuscripts, including a list of standard abbreviations, correct rules of punctuation, spelling, choice of symbols, and suggestions for the arrangement and numbering of equations.

Title and first paragraph

The title of the paper should be short and reflect the paper’s content. Papers in The Physics Teacher do not include abstracts. Instead, the first paragraph of each published paper should give a brief summary of the paper’s content. This paragraph is entered into TPT’s searchable online index.

Units and significant figures

Authors are encouraged to use SI units, but use of SI units is not mandatory in cases where other units are more appropriate. Measured and calculated numerical values should be written with the correct number of significant figures and include error limits.


The Physics Teacher does not use footnotes, which appear at the bottom of a page; instead, TPT uses endnotes. Endnotes should be double spaced and compiled in order at the end of the manuscript. Number each endnote sequentially in the text with a superscript, regardless of whether it is explanatory or a literature reference. Use sources that are widely available, generally avoiding esoteric journal articles and materials written in languages other than English. References to articles located on the web should be done with great care since many of these have short life spans. Endnote references to articles in periodicals should have the following form, with title and final as well as initial page numbers.

  1. Adam Niculescu, "A rolling sphere experiment," Phys. Teach. 44, 157–159 (March 2006).

    Use this form for referencing a book:
  2. R. A. Serway, Physics for Scientists and Engineers, 4th ed. (Saunders, New York, 1996), p. 9.


Each equation should appear on a separate line, have an equation number, and contain the correct punctuation placed before and after it. The number of the equation, in parentheses, should be placed near the right-hand margin.

Figures and tables

Figures should be numbered in the order in which they are referred to in the text and include captions. If any figures are taken from another publication, authors should obtain permission to use them before sending them to The Physics Teacher. Necessary credit information should be included with the submission. Please note that for photos of students, we require signed releases.

Graphs should be self-explanatory, with axes clearly labeled and units stated. The proper recording of error bars on data points should be taken very seriously.

Tables should be placed at the end of the text and numbered sequentially with Roman numerals. Each table should be referred to in the text at the appropriate place and must be intelligible by itself, with a brief title, clear column headings, and units where needed.

See below for information on formatting figures for publication.


It may be possible to place supplementary materials (such as computer programs or appendices containing detailed derivations) that are too lengthy to appear in the published paper on the Electronic Physics Auxiliary Publication Service (known as EPAPS). This electronic depository is also useful for other media, such as audio and video clips, that cannot be put into print. The URL for the appropriate EPAPS site is referenced as an endnote in the published paper. Inquiries about the use of EPAPS should be directed to the editorial office. Further details may also be found at the American Institute of Physics' website.

Submission of the Manuscript

Materials intended for specific columns should be submitted directly to the column editor.

As of August 1, 2014, the submission process for articles for The Physics Teacher has changed. Authors should now submit their article and cover letter at this website: http:www.editorialexpress.com/tpt. Papers should be prepared in MS Word or other text processing software, but for the initial submission process we require that authors submit a single, self-contained PDF file which includes the complete manuscript, with figures, tables, and reference lists. Author information should not be included in the manuscript document (so that papers may be reviewed anonymously).

For more information on submitting to TPT, contact the Editorial Office at 828-262-7497; tpt@appstate.ed

Once a manuscript is accepted for publication, authors will be asked to resend the paper in an editable format. Photos and other graphics should not be embedded in the text file, but should be submitted separately as TIFF or JPEG files (for photos) or EPS files (for line art). Digital photographs, either scans or ones taken with a digital camera, are acceptable if submitted at the approximate size they will appear in print and at 300 dpi resolution (photos taken off the web are not acceptable because they are usually 72 dpi). Graphs and charts made in Microsoft Excel are also acceptable. PDFs exported from Word, Excel, and PowerPoint may also be acceptable for line art. Graphs, charts, and line drawings submitted electronically should have a resolution of at least 1000 dpi.

Since the quality of computer screenshots of graphs, pictures, and diagrams sometimes renders them unreadable when reduced to column size, authors are encouraged to look critically at such artwork before submission.

Correspondence with the Editorial Office

Each manuscript will be given a TPT Editorial Office manuscript number. Please use this number in all correspondence with the Editorial Office and label any subsequent revisions with this number. Receipt of a manuscript is acknowledged promptly by a message to the principal or corresponding author. We try to provide the authors a report on their manuscript within three (3) months of the date of receipt, but a longer delay is sometimes unavoidable.

Accepted Manuscripts

At the time of acceptance, the corresponding author will be sent an acceptance message from the Editorial Office and be asked for a publishable version of the submission. Manuscript acceptance is provisional, pending final editing by the Editorial Office for length, style, and clarity. Substantial alterations will not be made without the permission of the author. Authors will receive page proofs before publication and are asked to return any corrections as soon as possible. Alterations in the proofs should be limited to corrections. Final responsibility for correcting errors lies with the author.

The minimum time between the submission and publication of an acceptable manuscript will ordinarily be about six months. Note that this journal is not published in June, July, or August.

Publications Manuscript Storage Policy

Manuscripts submitted for publication in AAPT journals along with subsequent correspondence with journal editors and reviewers, would be retained for five years after the last author interaction by or with the editorial office.  After five years, all materials associated with the manuscript would be disposed of.