AASTeX Guidelines and Class File

AASTeX is a LaTeX-based package that can be used to mark up manuscripts for American Astronomical Society (AAS) journals. AASTeX enables you to prepare manuscripts and tables for electronic submission to The Astronomical Journal (AJ) and The Astrophysical Journal (ApJ). The current version of the package is AASTeX v5.2.

The full AASTeX package, including user guidelines and a sample document, is available for download in zipped format for use on a PC. The small version of the distribution contains the class file, documentation, and sample LaTeX files. The larger version includes sample graphics and supplemental materials files in addition to the standard distribution:

The package, documentation, sample files, and .dtx source file are also available on CTAN.

Further detail on some of the features within AASTeX are given below.


Including Graphics in AASTeX

AASTeX uses the standard LaTeX 2e graphicx package for graphics handling. Two standard macros have been provded for graphics placement, \plotone and \plottwo. The \plotone inserts the graphic specified in the epsfile argument, scaled so that the horizontal dimension fits in the body text width; the vertical dimension is scaled to maintain the aspect ratio. \plottwo inserts two plots next to each other. Scale factors are determined automatically from information in the EPS file. You can override the automatic scaling with the command \epsscale, where num is the reduction percentage in decimal units, e.g., 0.80. To include your graphic with a legend, put your commands inside a figure environment with the text of the caption enclosed in a \caption command.

Occasionally, you may need more control over the placement and scaling of a figure than the \plotone and \plottwo macros allow. In such cases, use the graphicx command \includegraphics instead. The syntax of the \includegraphics command is

where key=value is a scaling parameter and value pair. Some available parameters include

scale = number — the reduction percentage in decimal units
width = length — the width to which the figure should be scaled
height = length — height to which the figure should be scaled
keepaspectratio = [true|false] — if set to true and both width and height are specified, this flag will maintain the original height/width ratio of the figure
angle = number — number of degrees to rotate the figure counterclockwise
clip = [true|false] — clip the graphic to the bounding box (do not print anything outside the bounding box)

Here, for example, is a command that would scale a figure to 50% of its natural size and rotated it 90 degrees counterclockwise:

Please note that the information above is not intended as a comprehensive guide to the graphicx package. For a full list of \includegraphics parameters, see the LaTeX graphics documentation on CTAN or consult the section on graphicx in Kopka and Daly’s A Guide to LaTeX.

Another alternative for graphics placement is to use the the \plotfiddle command, which was reintroduced in AASTeX v5.2. The syntax of the command is

where the arguments are

vsize — vertical white space to allow for plot (LaTeX dimension)
rot — rotation angle (in degrees)
hsf — horizontal width of scaled figure (PS points)
vsf — vertical height of scaled figure (PS points)
htrans — horizontal translation (PS points)
vtrans — vertical translation (PS points)

When preparing a manuscript for submission to an AAS journal, figures and tables do not generally need to be "placed" in the text of the document where you would like them to appear physically in the print journal but rather may follow the main body of the text with one figure group per page. However, if you are preparing a submission for astro-ph or another preprint service and wish to make your paper more compact by placing your figures throughout the text, you may do so using any of the graphics commands above. Note, however, that the \plotone and \plottwo macros do not clip the graphic to the bounding box. If you use these macros and are ending up with an excessive amount of white space around your figures, try using \includgraphics instead, either with the "clip" parameter set to true or with the * form of the command, which will clip the graphic to the bounding box by default:

If desired, you can edit the \plotone and \plottwo commands in your local copy of AASTeX to always use the * form. To do so, open your aastex.cls class file in a text editor, find the \newcommand macros for \plotone and \plottwo, and change their definitions to call \includegraphics with the *.

Using the Natbib Package

AASTeX allows authors to Patrick Daly's natbib package to manage citations. The natbib package re-implements LaTeX's \cite command, and offers greater flexibility for managing citations in the author-year form. A copy of the natbib style file is included with the AASTeX package. Authors are encouraged to read the natbib documentation for complete details on the package's capabilites. All examples in this document are adapted from the natbib documentation.

Authors must use the LaTeX's thebibliography environment to use the natbib extensions. Here is a bibliography with two entries marked up in the natbib style:

The square-bracketed argument contains the "author" portion of the citation followed by the year in parentheses. The parentheses are important, so do not leave them out. Note that in the second \bibitem, the square-bracketed argument includes two author lists, a short version before the year and a long version after. Authors should use this form of the markup if they wish to use the * forms of the \cite commands. (See the examples below.)

The text in the curly-brace argument of the \bibitem is the citation key and should be used as the argument in the corresponding cite commands in the text. The two basic text citation commands are \citet and \citep. (\citet corresponds to the plain LaTeX \cite command.) Use the two optional arguments to append text before or after the citation—text in the first set of square brackets will appear before the cite, text in the second set will appear after it. Use the * form of the cite commands to print the long version of the author lists for references that have been marked up in the manner of the "jon90" example.

Here are some \citet and \citep examples taken from the natbib package documentation:

Command Output
\citet{jon90} Jones et al. (1990)
\citet[chap.~2]{jon90} Jones et al. (1990, chap.~2)
\citep{jon90} (Jones et al., 1990)
\citep[chap.~2]{jon90} (Jones et al., 1990, chap.~2)
\citep[see][]{jon90} (see Jones et al., 1990)
\citep[see][chap.~2]{jon90} (see Jones et al., 1990, chap.~2)
\citet*{jon90} Jones, Baker, and Williams (1990)
\citep*{jon90} (Jones, Baker, and Williams, 1990)
\citet{jon90,jam91} Jones et al. (1990); James et al. (1991)
\citep{jon90,jam91} (Jones et al., 1990; James et al. 1991)
\citep{jon90,jon91} (Jones et al., 1990, 1991)
\citep{jon90a,jon90b} (Jones et al., 1990a,b)

Alternatively, use \citealt and \citealp to produce a cite without parentheses:

Command Output
\citealt{jon90} Jones et al. 1990
\citealt*{jon90} Jones et al., 1990
\citealp*{jon90} Jones, Baker, and Williams, 1990
\citealp{jon90,jam91} Jones et al., 1990; James et al., 1991
\citealp[pg.~32]{jon90} Jones et al., 1990, pg.~32

Finally, the \citeauthor and \citeyear commands can be used to print only the author or year portion of the citation:

Command Output
\citeauthor{jon90} Jones et al.
\citeauthor*{jon90} Jones, Baker, and Williams
\citeyear{jon90} 1990
\citeyearpar{jon90} (1990)

Object Linking

In partnership with the Simbad service of the Centre de Données astronomiques de Strasbourg (CDS) and the NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database (NED), the AAS has a new project to allow authors to include individual object links in in their papers. These links will come in two flavors, those from the electronic edition out to the data centers via object links in the articles, and those from the data centers back to the journals on a per-article basis showing all the objects referenced in a given paper.

The \object macro is used to generate the first type of object links in the electronic edition. The object names will be be verified during copyediting via CDS’s object name resolver, Sesame, which queries both the Simbad and NED databases. Object names that are tagged with the \object macro (\object{recognized name} or \object[recognized name] {text} where authors would like the link anchor to be some text other than the name of the object) and verified through Sesame will appear in the electronic edition linked to the object information hosted at NED and/or Simbad. For example, an author might supply in LaTeX \object[HD 172167]{Vega}. Here, the argument in square brackets contains the name of the object to be verified by the Sesame resolver, "HD 172167." The word "Vega" will appear in print and will be linked in the electronic edition to the HD 172167 object information available at NED and Simbad. If authors provide object names that are not recognized by Simbad or NED, they will be asked to provide known object names prior to publication of the paper. Object names can be checked prior to submission with the AAS Object Verification Tool. The extra time required of authors to tag their objects appropriately in their articles has numerous and far-reaching benefits.

The second flavor of object links, those on a per-paper basis offered by NED and Simbad, which can be used by researchers to get all the published papers that contain specific objects they are interested in, are already being supplied by the data centers. When object resources are available at NED or CDS for a given paper, links appear the navigation frame entitled "X Objects found in NED" or "X Objects found in Simbad" where X is the number of objects in the paper referenced in Simbad or NED. Each time a paper in the electronic edition is accessed, NED and Simbad are queried for references to the paper, so as more object information becomes available after publication, new links will appear in the electronic edition.

At present, the process of determining all of the objects in the AAS journals, not to mention all the other major astronomy journals, takes a significant amount of effort and time, and object links of this sort currently are not available until two to six months after publication. In order to expedite this process, the AAS journals will in the near future begin asking authors supply the important objects in their papers via a web form during peer review. The information supplied will be made passed on to to NED and CDS, allowing the data centers to more quickly and efficiently get the object information into their databases.

Both flavors of object links described above are important tools for doing research on specific objects. Authors are under no obligation to participate in the object linking project, but for those that do, their papers will become available through NED and CDS on a much more rapid time scale, and their papers will be more visible to a larger segment of the astronomical community.

Data Set Linking

In partnership with the NASA Astronomical Data Service (ADS) and several NASA data centers, the AAS has a new project to allow authors to tag data sets from participating data centers in their papers using the new AASTeX 5.2 \dataset macro. Data sets tagged with the \dataset macro will appear in the electronic edition linked to a name resolver at ADS that will take readers to the data sets themselves. All authors are welcome to tag individual data sets from participating data centers in their papers. The extra time required of authors to determine data set identifiers and tag them appropriately in their articles will have numerous and far-reaching benefits:

To take advantange of data set linking, authors first need to get the unique identifier for each of their data sets. These identifiers take the form "ADS/FacilityId#PrivateId" where FacilityId is the facility acronym and PrivateId is the identifier given to each data set by the facility archive. The participating data centers have different ways of providing these identifiers.

The table below lists the data centers that are currently participating in the data set linking project. Information provided by the data centers on how to use their data set IDs is provided via the links associated with the center's name. This page will periodically be updated as the data centers provide more information about their current status.

Center Available Missions FacilityId Status
LAMBDA WMAP Sa.WMAP Full data set tags online
HEASARC ASCA Sa.ASCA Full data set tags online
MAST HST Sa.HST Only private data set tags online
Chandra Chandra Sa.CXO Only private data set tags online
Spitzer Spitzer Sa.Spitzer Coming soon
IRSA The ATLAS collection IRSA.Atlas Full data set tags online

Authors may verify their identifiers before submission using the AAS Data Set Verification Tool to query the ADS name resolver.

Identifiers included in accepted manuscripts will be verified during copyediting with the ADS resolver tool. Accompanying text may be edited for clarity. Authors will have an opportunity during the editing process to correct unresolved identifiers or add clarifying text. Identifiers that do not resolve at ADS will not be linked in the electronic edition.

The AASTeX macro \dataset may be used anywhere in an AASTeX paper but tags in the acknowledgments and footnotes are discouraged. If your paper has just a few data sets, place the data set commands in the main text of the paper. The most logical place to include them would usually be in an early section describing the observations underlying the paper. When the number of data sets is large, you should place them in a table with a separate column reserved for the data set identifiers. Be sure to provide enough context in the text or table headers so that the data set identifiers are legible to readers of the print journal.

The \dataset Macro

The \dataset macro can be used with either one or two arguments. If a single argument is used, the data set ID should appear in curly braces, e.g.

where "ADS/FacilityId#PrivateId" is a unique data set ID consisting of a facility acronym and a facility’s archive identification code. The ID supplied will be verified against the ADS data set resolver during copyediting and will serve as the link anchor in the electronic edition. Please note that AASTeX interprets everything between the curly brackets of the \dataset macro as regular text. Thus, the special symbol, "#," in the "ADS/FacilityId#PrivateId" identifier must be escaped by a back slash, "\".

In cases where you would like to include text to appear in print that is different from the data set ID, use two arguments:

Again, "ADS/FacilityId#PrivateId" is the unique identification code, which will be checked during copyediting. The text inside the curly brackets will serve as the link in the text of the electronic edition. Here no forward slash on the "#" in the identifier is required.

Note that data hosted at sites not affiliated with the ADS database will not be linked. To join follow the instructions provided by ADS.

As more and more online-only features are added to the electronic editions of the journals, the AAS remains committed to ensuring that the print edition remains readable. In the case of data sets, in instances where the author does not make the location of the data set clear in the text, the copyeditors will add a description, usually the facility’s acronym, so that it is clear to the print reader what data center hosts the data.

The following table gives examples of AASTeX data set markup and how it would appear in the print journal. In the first two examples, the location of the data set is not clear from the LaTeX text provided, so the name of the data center, "Spitzer," has been added during copyediting. In the last example, the facility acronym, "HST," was included in the original manuscript by the author, so no change is necessary.
AASTeX version Modified version
Observations (PID 104; \dataset{ADS/Sa.Spitzer\#0006578176}) were conducted on 2003 December 9. Observations (PID 104; Spitzer 0006578176) were conducted on 2003 December 9.
\dataset[ADS/Sa.Spitzer#0008986880]{SBS 0335-052} was observed using both IRS low resolution modules. SBS 0335-052 (Spitzer 0008986880) was observed using both IRS low-resolution modules.
The star was observed by HST \dataset{ADS/Sa.HST\#O5KZ02340}. The star was observed by HST O5KZ02340

Facility Key Words

To aid organizations in obtaining information on the effectiveness of their telescopes, the AAS has created a group of facility key words for telescope facilities for use in AAS journal articles. The use of a common set of facility key words across AAS publications will make searches for telescopes significantly easier and more accurate. In addition, the facility key words will be useful for linking papers that use the same telescopes together within the framework of the National Virtual Observatory. The list includes 280 individual telescopes, arrays, and space missions.

Most facility key words are just the facility’s common name or acronym but some are a combination of the telescope’s physical location and name or acronym. Authors may include additional text in parentheses after the facility key word to cite facility instruments or telescope configurations. For example, the Wide Field Planetary Camera II on HST would be designated as HST (WFPC2). Anyone may propose new facility key words for facilities not currently found on the list. Contact the AAS Journals’ Staff Scientist, Dr. Greg Schwarz, with the proposed facility key word.

When preparing a LaTeX manuscript for submission, tag facility key words with the AASTeX 5.2 \facility macro and place them in a new paragraph following the acknowledgments. Include the word "Facility" or "Facilities" in italics at the beginning of the list. Separate multiple facility key words with commas.

Use the facility key word generator to look up facility key words for inclusion in your paper. Use Find by Wavelength to look up facilities by operational wavelength, Find by Location to look up by location, or Find Solar Facilities to retrieve a list of solar facilities. When you select a facility key word, it will appear in the text frame at the bottom of the page. The facility key word list can then be cut from the text window and pasted directly into your paper. Use the "Erase Text Area" button to clear the frame.

Frequently Asked Questions


Q1. I downloaded the gzipped package, but I can't uncompress it.

Did you download it with Netscape 6? Users have reported that Netscape 6 corrupts the tar ball during download. Try a different browser or download the ZIP file instead.

Q2. I am having trouble installing AASTeX v5.x. Do all the files really have to be copied manually to the generic places, or is there something missing in the Makefile?

Only the aastex.cls file has to be copied anywhere. There is a "make install" capability for Unix systems, but one has to have the installation directory properly identified in the Makefile, and of course proper permissions are required.

In the Makefile for AASTeX:

Set INSTALLDIR to the directory that aastex.cls should be installed in. It would be canonical for it to go in the tex/latex/misc area. So you probably only need to change the leading portion of this, once you know where your texmf installation is rooted.

INSTALLDIR = /usr/share/texmf/tex/latex/misc

If you have tetex installed, you can run "texconfig conf" to see what TEXMFMAIN is.

When the INSTALLDIR parameter is set correctly in the Makefile, you can just type "make install" in the usual way. You must have the necessary write permission in the system area where LaTeX files are installed.

Q3. I installed the aastex.cls file in the proper place, but my LaTeX system still can't find it.

A. Modern TeX installations often have a cache of all available files. This cache has to be updated after new files are added in the directory hierarchy.

If you have teTeX, you must type "texconfig rehash" to update the necessary table - this takes proper permissions.

If you have a TeX installation other than teTeX, you will have to explore its instructions for installing extra packages and for subsequently updating the cache.

Q4. What are the LaTeX system requirements for AASTeX v5.x?

The basic version "requirement" of AASTeX v5.x is a running LaTeX 2e system.

We can be a little more granular than that, because aastex.cls asks for a LaTeX format file of 1995/12/01 or later. (That was the earliest version we had for testing). Format files dated earlier than 1995/12/01 will produce a warning message and may cause LaTeX errors.

Q5. I'm trying to use AASTeX with a DOS or Windows LaTeX installation. When I LaTeX my paper, I get an error message that says "TeX capacity exceeded." What's the problem?

Your problem may be that DOS is having trouble with the line endings in the .sty or .cls files. Convert the line endings to DOS — for instance, by opening each file with the DOS "edit" command and saving it — and the buffer message will probably go away. If it doesn't, you'll need to consult the documentation for your particular LaTeX installation to figure out how to increase the buffer size.

Q6. How do I install the package if I'm using OzTeX?

Dave Meisel has provided a README on how to use AASTeX with OzTeX, as well as an Excalibur dictonary containing most of the AASTeX extensions not contained in the original Excalibur dictionary:

Q7. Can I use AASTeX with Windows?

Yes. You will need a working Windows LaTeX installation. One popular Windows package is MikTeX. A free download is available. Consult the MikTeX documentation for instructions on how to install the AASTeX class file.

Q8. When I use \email in the front matter of my paper, the address doesn't print out.

Download and install the most recent version of the package. In previous versions of the package, \email behaved like the old \authoremail command when used in the front matter of the document and produced no printed output. This behavior was changed in v5.0.2. Now the email address will appear centered on the title page below the affiliations.

Q9. When I use \email in the body of the text, the word "mailto:" appears prepended to the address.

Download and install the most recent version of the package. The behavior of \email has been changed so that the text of the email address will print without the "mailto:" prepend.


Q10. \plotfiddle doesn't work.

This macro was reintroduced in v5.2, so download and install the most recent version of the package if you want to use it. You may, however, wish to consult the graphics documentation first. In most cases, you should be able to place your graphics in your paper using \plotone, \plottwo, or \includegraphics.

Q11. How do I rotate a figure?

Instead of using \plotone or \plottwo, call the graphicx package command \includegraphics with the angle option. For instance, to rotate a figure 90, you would issue the command



Q12. Why doesn't the \rotate command work?

Download and install the most recent version of the package. The \rotate command was broken in older versions of the package.

Note that if you view the typeset table with the xdvi LaTeX previewer, it may look like it is running off the page. It will, however, print properly. If you want to view the table without printing, redirect the dvips output to a PostScript file and use a PS viewer like Ghostview to browse the output.

Q13. When I use \rotate to make a table broadside, all of the tables following it are rotated, as well. How do I rotate only one table?

Your \rotate command needs to be in the table preamble, after your \begin{deluxetable}. If you use \rotate outside of the deluxetable environment, every table following the command will be rotated.

Q14. How do I reduce the font size in my deluxetable?

Use the \tabletypesize command in your table preamble:

See the package documentation for the available type size options.

Q15. I've successfully used \rotate and reduced my typesize to \scriptsize, but my table is still too wide. What do I do now?

You can make the columns tighter by using \setlength with the \tabcolsep argument. For example,


In some instances, you may be able to tighten the columns enough to keep the table upright.

Q16. How can I stop my deluxetable from running off the bottom of the page?

Download and install the most recent version of the package. As of v5.2, table end notes will break to a new page if they are too long to fit below the table body and users may also force table breaks with the \tablebreak command.

Be warned that despite claims to the contrary in previous versions of the package documentation, the LaTeX \\* command for keeping lines of a deluxetable together on a page does not work with deluxetable. If you don't like where AASTeX is breaking the table, use \tablebreak to force a break.

Q17. I LaTeXed my deluxetable without problem, but when I print out the dvi file, it prints only the accepted/received lines on the title page.

Download and install the most recent version of the package. A bug in older versions of the package broke stand-alone tables. This was fixed in v5.2.

Q18. The text of my \cutinhead isn't centered or a blank row is inserted above it.

If a \cutinhead appears immediately after the \startdata in a deluxetable, the text may format flush left or a blank row may be inserted above the head. In this instance, use \multicolumn with alignment "c" instead.

\cutinhead will work as expected if it appears elsewhere in the table.

Q19. Is there a way to decimal align a column in deluxetable?

No, athough decimal alignment can be faked by using the TeX \phantom command to adjust the alignment cell by cell.

Another option is to switch to the standard "table" enviroment and use the LaTeX 2e dcolumn package.

Citations and Bibliography

Q20. I marked up my references using natbib notation, but when I LaTeX the manuscript, numbers appear where my citations should be.

Make sure you have put parentheses around the date in the square-bracketed arguments of your \bibitems:

If you do not delimit the date with parentheses in every \bibitem, natbib won't handle the cross-references properly and will put a number in place of the year or the whole citation depending on whether you used \citet or \citep. Even just one missing set of parentheses will cause the cross-referencing to fail, so check the argument of every single \bibitem in the reference list if you are having this problem.

Once you have inserted the missing parentheses, delete the .aux file and LaTeX as usual.

Q21. I use BibTeX to manage my citations. Is there a bibliography style file that I can use with AASTeX?

Yes. Jonathan Baker from UC Berkeley has written a bibliography style package called astronat that works with AASTeX. The package and documentation are available on the A href="http://ads.harvard.edu/pubs/bibtex/astronat">ADS website.

Please note that because AASTeX v5.x allows natbib-style \cite commands, you no longer need to run the nat2jour.pl script on your document when preparing it for submission to the AAS journals.

In addition, when you submit your paper to the AAS journals, be sure to include the .bbl file with your manuscript. Manuscripts cannot be processed if the .bbl file is not included. (See the astronat documentation for more information on preparing your BibTeX document for electronic submission.)


Q22. Do you have a LaTeX emulator that produces a clone of the ApJ page?

The AAS does not maintain one, but Alexey Vikhlinin has written a LaTeX 2e class file (emulateapj5.cls)and a style package (emulateapj5.sty) that approximate the look of an AJ page. They are available at http://hea-www.harvard.edu/~alexey/emulateapj/.

Q23. Is there a separate deluxetable style file that I can use outside of AASTeX?

The AAS does not maintain one, but Alexey Vikhlinin has written one. A copy is available at http://casa.colorado.edu/~danforth/comp/tex/deluxetable.sty.

Q24. I'm using the preprint2 style, and my abstract is too long to fit on the title page. How do I break it to a new page?

Make sure that you have AASTeX v5.2 or later and then use the "longabstract" option when you invoke AASTeX:

This option should only be used in preprint2 mode and only when the abstract is too long to fit on the title page. Using it otherwise will have unpredictable consequences.

Q25. Why are my table notes printing off the right-hand margin of the page instead of appearing below my deluxetable?

Make sure that your \tablecomments,\tablerefs, and \tablenotetext command appear after the \enddata command. Older versions of AASTeX were more forgiving of the commands being misplaced, but as of v5.2, they must appear after \enddata.

Q26. I'm preparing a preprint, and I'm using \plotone and \plottwo to place my figures throughout the run of text. Too much white space is appearing around the graphics. How can I clip the figures to the bounding box to get rid of the extra space?

See the section on embedding figures in the text in the documentation on using graphics with AASTeX.

Q27. Using the \AA macro causes the message "LaTeX Warning: Command \r invalid in math mode."

Put \AA in an \mbox:

Q28. What do I do if LaTeX is printing the abstract title on a page by itself and the text of the abstract on the following page?

Download and install the most recent version of the package. The latest version of the package will allow abstracts to run to more than one page in the manuscript and preprint styles.

LaTeX Resources

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