FP Essentials™

Author Instructions for FP Essentials

The AAFP FP Subscriptions program, which has approximately 5,000 subscribers, produces monthly monographs and audio recordings as well as an annual CD-ROM on select topics pertinent to family medicine. The program follows a multi-year curriculum that covers the breadth of family medicine.

The goal of the CME Subscriptions & Bulletins Department is to provide continuing medical education to practicing family physicians. Therefore, the monograph should be original, case-based, and focused on new and clinically relevant information. The approach should be evidence-based and explicit; lengthy coverage of epidemiology, pathophysiology, or anatomy is discouraged.


1. Length. The completed manuscript text should include four sections, each with a length of about 2,500 words for a total of approximately 10,000 words. The ideal length is close to, but not exceeding, 10,000 words. This total does not include abstracts, figures, tables, references, suggested readings, key practice recommendations, or table of contents.

2. Format. If possible, electronic text files should be saved in Rich Text Format (RTF) to ensure preservation of symbols, Greek letters, and other special characters through e-mail and across various hardware and software platforms. Use Microsoft Word with left justification and 1-inch margins. If using software other than Word, contact the managing editor early to ensure compatibility. Submit the completed manuscript electronically by e-mail. Include figures and tables with the manuscript. Remove all tracked changes and inserted comments prior to submission. 

3. Cover (Title) Page. The cover page should include the manuscript title and the corresponding author’s name, address, work and home telephone numbers, fax number, and email address.

4. Biographical Sketch. Provide a 75 to 100 word biographical sketch for each author that includes current position, education, notable positions, and information that establishes the author’s credentials and credibility for this particular monograph (see attached sample).

5. Practice Recommendations. Following the biographical sketches, provide 1 to 2 key practice recommendations that highlight the main points in each section of the monograph, for a total of 4 to 8 recommendations. Recommendations should be written as action statements and should form the foundation for the monograph. Sample recommendations are listed at the bottom of this page. Rate each recommendation using the SORT taxonomy. For each recommendation, cite an evidence-based source from which the recommendation is derived. To the extent possible, cite AAFP recommended evidence-based medicine (EB CME) sources, criteria, and guidelines. However, if the AAFP recommended EB CME sources do not contain the most current evidence, newer articles or recent findings may be used. 

Questions about preparing the practice recommendations should be directed to the medical editor who is working with you on the manuscript.

6. Abstracts. Each of the four sections should begin with an abstract of no more than 200 words. FP Essentials is indexed in PubMed, and the content of your abstract will be what appears in PubMed. The abstract should summarize the content of the section, rather than tell what the section is about. For example, instead of saying that “This section will discuss the treatment of heart failure…” the abstract should say that “The treatment of heart failure includes diuretics, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors…”

Please note that PubMed requires that the contact information for each author be included in its listings. Your street address and e-mail address will be visible in PubMed along with general information about the edition you author.

7. Cases. Provide illustrative cases that highlight key decision points in diagnosis and management. There should be at least one case for each section of in the monograph. Cases should be integrated into the text.

8. References. The manuscript should have approximately 100 references, which should generally be recently published and accessible literature. References to peer-reviewed journals indexed in MEDLINE are preferred to other sources. Web references are acceptable. Avoid sources that are older or of historic interest only, and editorials. Do not use abstracts, unpublished observations, manuscripts in preparation or submitted for publication, personal communications, or obscure or non-English-language journals. 

To the extent possible, cite original research, systematic reviews, explicitly developed practice guidelines, and evidence-based summaries from such organizations as the Cochrane Collaborative. Avoid citing textbooks, clinical review articles, and sources such as UpToDate, DynaMed, and similar online publications.

References must be numbered sequentially within the text. Reference numbers in the text should be linked to numbering on the reference list through the automatic numbering feature of your word processor. In Microsoft Word, use the “Insert Endnote” feature in the “References” tab. This feature will create a corresponding reference list at the end of the manuscript arranged numerically. If a source is cited more than once, on second citation do not create a new endnote. Instead, select “Cross-reference” in the “Insert” tab, set the “Reference type” to “Endnote,” and select the original citation you wish to repeat. Extensive re-referencing of the same source is discouraged. References should conform to the MEDLINE style (see examples provided), and include volume and inclusive page numbers.

9. Suggested Reading. Include a short list (6 to 8 items) of suggested readings or Web sites. These should be current (past 5 years) and from articles or books that can be found in the typical hospital library or online resources. Do not cite blogs.

10. Figures and Tables. Include up to a combined total of 15 figures and tables. In most cases we cannot use previously published material, so figures and tables should either be original or from public domain sources (eg, created by government agencies such as the CDC or NIH). Tables should be created using the table feature of your word processing program, rather than with tabs. Figures may be line drawings, computer-generated images, or scanned photographs or slides. Figures also may be algorithms or flow charts for complicated patient care problems; such algorithms are encouraged. Each figure and table must have a typed double-spaced legend either below the image or on a separate page. If the need for artist services is anticipated, discuss this as soon as possible with the managing editor. 

Artist Services. CME Subscriptions & Bulletins Department staff can produce flow charts from sketches and arrange to redraw artwork from sketches or other sources at our expense, but such arrangements should be made well in advance of the manuscript submission. We do not publish color illustrations except on selected topics; you will be informed if your topic requires color images.

Photograph Resolution. Photographs that are submitted electronically should be in jpeg or tiff format at a resolution of 300 dpi (dots per inch). With original submission of the manuscript, photographs and figures should be pasted within the Word document (eg, the manuscript). After acceptance for publication, the author may need to provide separate image files at the aforementioned resolution. 

Table and Figure Placement. Each table and figure should appear at the end of the monograph (after references), and each should be on a separate page. Tables and figures should be numbered and cited in the text.

Copyrighted Materials. We emphasize again that figures and tables should either be original or in the public domain (eg, created by government agencies). With the exception of public domain document or illustrations, we generally cannot use previously published or copyrighted material. 

Address all questions about illustrations, charts, or tables to the CME Subscriptions & Bulletins Department managing editor.

11. Quiz Questions. Following completion of the monograph, a medical editor will write quiz questions based on the content of the manuscript. Authors will be expected to review, edit, and approve these questions.


1. Duplicate Publication. The CME Subscriptions & Bulletins Department has a strict policy on duplicate publication. All materials submitted by authors must be original work not published or submitted elsewhere, including other AAFP publications (eg, American Family Physician [AFP]).

2. Off-label Use of Drugs or Devices. Authors must inform readers about the use of drugs or devices approved bthe Food and Drug Administration for given indications, and also must identify unapproved or off-label uses of drugs, devices, or procedures.

3. Drugs. Generic drug names are used. If a generic is not available, trade names are included in parentheses on first mention.

4. Conflict of Interest. All authors must sign a declaration disclosing relevant interests and conflicts of interest. Go here, read the policy, and complete the online disclosure form. Authors should read and complete this declaration form. Many authors will have potential conflicts; they do not necessarily disqualify authors from writing monographs. However, it is critical that these conflicts are disclosed so as to ensure appropriate steps are taken to resolve such issues.

5. Copyright. Copyright of published monographs is retained by the AAFP. If you would like to reproduce, reprint, or adapt content from the monograph you authored, you must seek permission from the AAFP. You may submit your request online.

Manuscript Review and Management

An FP Essentials medical editor will assist the author with development of the manuscript and ensure that the guidelines are met. After the draft manuscript is completed, a medical editor will conduct a review to ensure that all requirements specified on the checklist are met. The medical editor will then enlist authorities in family medicine and pertinent subspecialties to review the manuscript. The author will be expected to revise the manuscript to address comments and concerns raised by the reviewers.

At this stage of the process, expect extensive changes and queries. It is essential that the author respond to queries in a timely manner. If the author’s schedule requires prolonged absences, he or she should discuss such with the editor well in advance so that the production schedule can be adjusted accordingly.

After the author revises the manuscript, it will be edited by one of the medical editors. This editing may require the author to respond to additional queries about the content of the manuscript, and to make additional revisions to address those queries.

Finally, the monograph will undergo editing by CME Subscriptions & Bulletins Department staff editors to ensure that it conforms to program style and format. Staff editors may also query the author about the content of the manuscript and again, the author will need to respond to those queries. The author will also need to review and approve the final edited version of the monograph.

Strict deadlines will be provided to the author by editors and staff to ensure publishing on schedule. The corresponding author is responsible for timely completion of all work. Work that is completed substantially after deadlines may be rejected, in which case authors will not be eligible to receive payment.

Responsibility After Publication

After publication of the monograph, the author’s responsibility extends to assisting the medical and staff editors in responding to the occasional letter of inquiry from subscribers regarding the content. These queries are uncommon, but the author will be expected to assist the editors in writing a response or an erratum if appropriate. A summary of subscriber evaluations will be sent to the author approximately 6 to 8 months after publication.

Writing Style

Please refer to the AMA Manual of Style, 10th Edition, 2007.

Avoid convoluted sentences, personal pronouns, and the first-person case. The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, and similar grammar and usage books are excellent resources.

Sample Author Biographic Sketch

Francine Welby, MD, is professor and chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the Western Florida Medical University (WFMU), Orlando. She earned a medical degree from Case University, Detroit, Michigan, and completed a family practice residency at Mountainside Memorial Hospital, Lexington, Kentucky. Dr Welby has served on expert panels for the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research, which developed practice guidelines on [topic of monograph]. She also is the author of more than [number] publications on [topic of monograph].

Edwin Nildare, MD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Neurology at the University of Topeka, Kansas. He earned a medical degree from the University of the Bronx, New York. He completed a neurology residency and fellowship in electromyography and neuromuscular disease at the University of Texas, Houston. Dr Nildare is board certified in neurology and has a certificate of added qualification in clinical neuro-physiology. He teaches medical students and residents, and his clinical interests include entrapment neuropathies and neuromuscular complications of critical illness. He is the author of more than [number] articles and book chapters on [topic of monograph].

Sample Reference Format

JOURNAL ARTICLE: DeWalt DA, Berkman ND, Sheridan S, et al. Literacy and health outcomes: a systematic review of the literature. J Gen Intern Med. 2004;19(12):1129-1139.

BOOK CHAPTER: O’Sullivan SB, Thomas JS. Assist devices and gait patterns. In: Schnee M, ed. Physical Rehabilitation: Assessment and Treatment. 4th ed. Philadelphia: FA Davis Company; 2001:425-434. [Note: chapter titles are lowercase.]

WEB MATERIAL: Dalton C; University of Virginia. Building a Health Literacy Curriculum. Available at http://www.healthsystem.virginia.edu/internet/som-hlc/. Accessed May 2007.

Systems to rate the strength of scientific evidence. Summary, evidence report/technology assessment: No. 47. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; March 2002. AHRQ publication No. 02-E015. Available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK11930/(www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov). Accessed June 2007.

Sample Format for Key Practice Recommendations

(Note: 4-8 recommendations should be provided, with 1 or 2 recommendations corresponding to the main points of each of the 4 sections of the monograph).

1. Recommendation: Give aspirin (325 mg) promptly to any patient with an acute ischemic stroke when the patient is not a candidate for treatment with recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rt-PA). Do not give aspirin within 24 hours of thrombolysis therapy.
Approved Source: AHRQ, 2005
Web site: http://www.guideline.gov/summary/summary.aspx?doc_id=5896.
Strength of evidence: SORT A
Enduring material: Albers GW, Amarenco P, Easton JD, Sacco RL, et al. Antithrombotic and thrombolytic therapy for ischemic stroke: the Seventh ACCP Conference on Antithrombotic and Thrombolytic Therapy. Chest. 2004;126(3 Suppl):483S-512S. 

2. Recommendation: For eligible patients, administer IV rt-PA (a dose of 0.9 mg/kg [maximum 90 mg], with 10% of the total dose administered as an initial bolus, and the remainder infused over 60 min), provided that treatment is initiated within 3 hours of clearly defined symptom onset.
Approved Source: AHRQ, 2005
Web site: http://www.guideline.gov/summary/summary.aspx?doc_id=5896
Strength of evidence: SORT A
Enduring material: Albers GW, Amarenco P, Easton JD, et al. Antithrombotic and thrombolytic therapy for ischemic stroke: the Seventh ACCP Conference on Antithrombotic and Thrombolytic Therapy. Chest. 2004;126(3 Suppl):483S-512S. 

3. Recommendation: In patients with atrial fibrillation who have had a recent stroke or TIA, initiate indefinite oral warfarin anticoagulation (target INR = 2.5; range = 2.0 to 3.0) indefinitely [Grade 1A].
Approved Source: AHRQ, 2005
Web site: http://www.guideline.gov/summary/summary.aspx?doc_id=5896
Strength of evidence: SORT A
Enduring material: Albers GW, Amarenco P, Easton JD, Sacco RL, et al. Antithrombotic and thrombolytic therapy for ischemic stroke: the Seventh ACCP Conference on Antithrombotic and Thrombolytic Therapy. Chest. 2004;126(3 Suppl):483S-512S.