General Guidelines

Official Method manuscripts should include the following:

Before the Method

  • Title, author names and affiliations, abstract, introduction, and summary of validation study design or protocol used. 
  • Summary of Validation Study Design or Testing Protocol: Collaborative Study, Single Laboratory Validation, etc.
  • Include a section subheading for each type of study used to develop data in the validation of the method written in the paper with a brief description of the study, not the results, just was done. 

After the Method

Manuscripts should include results and discussion, conclusions, acknowledgments, and references.

For information on how to prepare these sections, please visit our Instructions to Authors page.

Format and Style for Official Methods

The method portion of the manuscript should be included after the introduction. Methods must include the following elements:

Title of the Method

The title should include the method number, analyte, matrix, technology used and the official status. AOAC will provide the Official Method number after the paper is received for publication as such, authors should use the following 2020.xx


AOAC Official Method 20xx.xx

Analyte in Matrix
Technology used
First Action 2020 (use the year that the method was approved)

Applicability Statements

Applicability statements should include the list of matrix(es) along with specific matrix types and range or limits of determination or detection. Applicability statements should address utility and limitations on use of method or other information.

[Applicable for determination of ….]

Caution Statements

List any statements of caution after the applicability section. Review all methods for potential hazards. Authors should automatically incorporate safety statements. Decisions regarding inclusion of caution statements should be practical; overuse will be self-defeating. Methods that create toxic, obnoxious or environmentally hazardous fumes and wastes should contain practical directions for disposal. Specify precautions and possible hazards in carrying out method, including safety information on equipment, techniques and practices, and safe handling of chemicals, acids, alkalies, microorganisms, and solvents.


Caution: Refer to the material safety data sheets for all chemicals prior to use. Use all appropriate personal protective equipment and follow good laboratory practices.

Performance Parameters

Include statistical data if the study provides sufficient information with regard to the reliability of the method.

All headings should be set in Alphabetical Order i.e., A. Principle, B. Apparatus, C. Reagents. Methods should be laid out in the following order:


Explain the scientific premise on which the method operates, specifically the mechanism of the analysis. Describe the purpose of various steps or the basis of unfamiliar or unusual reactions. Include the scope and sensitivity of the method—its applicability to certain types of samples and its non-applicability, because of interference, solubility, or other reasons, to other types of samples.

Methods are divided into several descriptive sections i.e., Apparatus, Reagents, Reagent Preparation, Standard Preparation, Sample Preparation, Extraction. The sections should include specifications for necessary laboratory apparatus and reagent preparations. See also Definition of Terms and Explanatory Notes.

NOTE: Official Methods will need to include InChi numbers and CAS numbers where appropriate.


List the equipment that requires assembly or that has specifications critical to the method performance. Describe equipment in terms of performance characteristics. List the necessary laboratory apparatus. For more information, see “Definition of Terms and Explanatory Notes”.

Apparatus should be set as in the following example:

(a) Ultra-HPLC (UHPLC) system—Nexera (Shimadzu, Kyoto, Japan) or equivalent LC system consisting of a dual pump system, a sample injector unit, a degasser unit, and a column oven.

(b) Triple-quadrupole mass spectrometer—Triple Quad 6500 (Sciex, Framingham, MA) or equivalent tandem MS (MS/MS) instrument.

(c) Column—Kinetex C18 core-shell, 2.6 μm, 2.1 × 50 mm (Phenomenex, Torrance, CA) or equivalent.


Do not list common reagents which would ordinarily be expected to be available in a well-equipped analytical laboratory. Reagents without specifications are automatically reagent grade, conforming to the specifications of the American Chemical Society (ACS) when such specifications exist.

Reagents should follow the same format as in the above example under Apparatus.

Reagent Preparation, Standard Preparation, Sample Preparation, Extraction Sections

Use these sections for materials requiring directions for preparation, purification, or standardization. Standard compounds will often need specifications or a source of supply.

The sections should use the same style and format as in the above example under Apparatus.


If a method is fairly straightforward or consists only of a single major step, describe all operations under this heading. If the method is complex, however, divide the determinative section into several parts which may be characterized bye the type of operation performed. Be sure to identify all critical control points.


Include calculations in a method for convenience to avoid the need for looking up factors and deriving equations, particularly when a series of multiple dilutions or aliquots are used at various steps in the method. Take particular care to ensure that there is no ambiguity with regard to the entries in the numerator and the denominator.

Data Handling

A section on data handling should be included if necessary. Example: Report results as μg/hg to one decimal place or as IU/hg to zero decimal places.

Other sections may be included as needed and should be labelled in alphabetical order (i.e., H. Chromatography)

Tables and Figures

Tables and figures should be in separate documents and clearly labelled. Do not intersperse tables and figures within the text document. Tables and figures should be numbered consecutively as Table 1, Table 2, Figure 1, Figure 2, etc.

For instructions on table and figure specifications, please visit our Instructions to Authors page.

Supplemental Information

Supplemental information is allowed and should be included as a separate Word document clearly labelled. Supplemental information should be cited in the text. Supplemental data may include large tables, figures or appendices. Please note: this information will be available on the online Journal site and will be uploaded as submitted. It will not be copyedited or typeset.