These are short submissions that contain important new results and are intended for faster publication. Letters are given priority handling. While there is no page limit, typical letters are 3-4 printed pages and have fewer than five figures.

This is written in a scientific journal for the contributing authors. What does it mean exactly. While they say typically you adhere to those standards and can also include more than pages and figures, does the typical letter have maximum 4 or 5 figures? Scientific language is normally very accurate, so the phrasing 4 figures mathematically "less than 5" makes me unsure. In my mother language we would not phrase it like this.

  • 1
    It's talking about what is typical, not a specific rule. If a submission has 6 figures that are very relevant, it is probably OK. If it has 12 figures, that's probably not a letter but a paper. They are trying to communicate the general length and complexity of a letter submission, not force you to limit yourself to 4 figures.
    – ColleenV
    Aug 2, 2021 at 19:12
  • Just for my own curiosity, what is a figure? Does it mean page?
    – EllieK
    Aug 3, 2021 at 12:10
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    @EllieK a graphic ot table with ref number Aug 11, 2021 at 19:29

1 Answer 1


"Fewer than five" means between zero and four, inclusive.

"Fewer than n" means "< n" in mathematical notation, and not "≤ n".

As you say, scientific language tends to be precise, but this isn't scientific writing. It is guidance for authors. The guidance isn't describing something scientifically. It is deliberately flexible.

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