Editorial Manual 

Instructions for the preparation of documents


Length of reports   

Reports originating in the Secretariat must not exceed 8,500 words in length (10,700 words for documents not originating in the Secretariat), including any footnotes, headings or hidden text. A waiver must be requested for reports that exceed the limit.



Manuscripts should be transmitted for processing in electronic form. For technical specifications on format and media to be used in preparing documents at Headquarters, see the latest version of the DGACM guide to document submission.

For documents prepared at offices away from Headquarters, click on the links below:

United Nations Office at Geneva

United Nations Office at Nairobi

United Nations Office at Vienna

Main headings and subheadings should be in bold print. Initial capitals are used only for the first word and words normally capitalized. For more detailed instructions, see Format/Headings and subheadings and Mastheads and cover pages.

Italics and bold print are not used for emphasis, except where the General Assembly has requested the use of bold print for recommendations (see also Italics and bold print).


Revised texts

If a text is a revised version of a previously issued document (such as a draft resolution), or is the final version of a report already submitted in draft form for advance editing/translation, all changes, including deletions, must be clearly indicated by means of Microsoft Word track changes. 


References and quotations

Manuscripts should not include lengthy quotations from texts previously circulated as United Nations documents, such as General Assembly resolutions and earlier reports of the Secretary-General, nor should such texts or excerpts therefrom be attached as annexes.

Internal cross-references should be carefully checked in the final draft, as the paragraph numbers may have changed from those in earlier drafts.

Necessary quotations and references should be carefully checked for accuracy. In the case of United Nations documents, paragraph numbers, not pages, should be cited.

For more detailed instructions, see Editorial guidelines/Style/Quotations


Abbreviations and acronyms

Abbreviations and acronyms should always be explained. The full name should be spelled out the first time it occurs in the text, or a complete list should be provided.

Abbreviations and acronyms are not used for the names of Member States, most commissions, committees or other subsidiary bodies, major United Nations offices, Secretariat departments, or in document titles or internal headings.

Names of subsidiary bodies, major United Nations offices and Secretariat departments should be given in full the first time they occur in a text. Short titles (e.g. "the Council", "the "Commission", "the Department") are used thereafter. 

For a list of abbreviations and acronyms used in United Nations documents, see Editorial guidelines/Style/Abbreviations and acronyms



For geographical names, including countries, see UNTERM. If the location does not appear therein, the GeoNames database of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency is a useful guide.

For individuals, corporations etc., verify correct names or most commonly used spellings or transliterations, and use consistently throughout.

When general terms such as president, representative and so on are used, it would be helpful to the translators to indicate the gender of the person.

When animal or plant species are mentioned, the scientific (Latin) designation should be included in addition to the common or vernacular name, as the latter may not provide sufficient information to allow an accurate translation.


Use of the first person

The first person may be used in reports of the Secretary-General.


Additional guidelines

For further guidelines on drafting and format, see Editorial guidelines/Basic documents and Format.