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Technical Help

For many authors it is most convenient to have materials for their pages entered into the ToL Database by us. We are offering full page creation services as our time permits. If you would like us to handle the data entry for your pages, please contact

Creating ToL pages involves two fundamental processes:

Setting up the Tree Structure for Your Branch

If you are going to develop a new branch of the Tree of Life, you will need to start by adding new groups and subgroups, and by creating the tree structure that reflects their phylogenetic relationships. You can do this yourself in TreeGrow, or you can send the relevant information to us, and we will create the tree structure for you.

The tree or taxon list for your branch can be submitted as an indented taxon list, text in nested-parenthesis notation (Newick format), in NEXUS file format (created in MacClade or PAUP, for example), or as an image (this will work for small trees <100 taxa). If you submit just a picture of your tree, please also send along a list of the terminal taxa in text format. This will allow us to copy and paste the taxon names rather than having to retype them from your picture.

Also, please indicate which nodes in your tree should have pages attached to them. See Dividing the Tree: Planning What Goes on Each Page for advice. We will create page templates for these groups which you can then fill with content.

Authoring ToL Branch and Leaf Pages

With the recent revision of the ToL data entry tools, entering text and images for ToL pages has become a lot simpler.If you still prefer to have your data entered by us, the best way to submit your contribution is to send a file with your manuscript as an e-mail attachment. The file can be in MSWord, WordPerfect, OpenOffice or simple text format. We will then enter this information in the ToL Database, and we will implement any special formatting you indicate. If you don't know how to send files as e-mail attachments, please contact for technical help. Tell us what operating system and e-mail software you are using, and we will send you detailed instructions.

Before submitting any material, you should carefully read the information on Planning Your Tree of Life Pages. Please be sure to organize your text in standard Tree of Life sections (as described on the page about Design of ToL Branch Pages or Design of ToL Leaf Pages). That is, make sure you have a basic Introduction, a section on Characteristics, a Discussion of Phylogenetic Relationships (for branch pages), and References, with other sections added as appropriate for your group and interests. You should also pay close attention to the Tips & Guidelines for ToL Page Authors.


Any figures should be clearly indicated in the text of your manuscript where they are to appear. Please add a caption for each image and be sure to include information about the copyright owner. If you would like to use illustrations that have previously been published in a book or journal or that were produced by other people, please also see the page about Copyright Issues.

Images can be submitted either on paper, as photographic slides, or as electronic images, depending upon the resources available to you. If you need help digitizing your images, please contact us at If your pictures are already digitized, you can send them to us as e-mail attachments, or you can upload them directly to the ToL database yourself using the ToL image contribution tools. If you are a registered ToL contributor, you already have a user id (your e-mail address) for logging into the image contribution system. If you don't have a password yet, simply enter your user id and leave the password field blank. You will be given the option to have a new password sent to your e-mail address, which will then let you log into the image uploading tools.


References should be written in the style used by Systematic Biology. Place a carriage return at the end of each reference and none within a reference, and do NOT use tabs or indents (references will automatically be formatted with a hanging indent). So a reference might look like this on your submission:

Doe, J. 1996. Phylogenetic analysis of the little-toed slime creepers of Borneo, based on molecular analysis of their secretions. Journal of Systematic Creepology 4:311-567.

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