Programming Languages and Systems (TOPLAS)


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Acceptance Criteria

Papers for TOPLAS must be of high quality and must fall within the scope of the journal. The scope of the journal includes, but is not limited to:

  • language design for sequential and parallel programming
  • programming language implementation
  • programming language semantics
  • compilers and interpreters
  • runtime systems for program execution
  • storage allocation and garbage collection
  • languages and methods for writing program specifications
  • languages and methods for secure and reliable programs
  • testing and verification of programs

Papers can be either theoretical or experimental in style, but in either case, they must contain innovative and novel content that advances the state of the art of programming languages and systems. We also invite strictly experimental papers that compare existing approaches, tutorial, and survey papers.

The three main criteria for a paper to be accepted are:

  1. the paper must be among the best papers of the year in its area
  2. the paper must be of interest to the broad community
  3. the presentation must be effective.

Few papers excel in all three, but a substandard level in any is sufficient grounds for rejection. It is the authors' job to make it clear why the paper is important and of broad interest. We ask authors to consult a recent issue of TOPLAS for reference.

To ensure that authors feel comfortable submitting despite these high standards, we aim for a two-step review process. In the first step, referees are asked to scan the paper to decide if it meets these criteria, assuming that all the results are correct as stated. If it seems that the paper might satisfy these criteria, either the same or different referees are then asked to provide a more in-depth review.

If a paper is rejected from TOPLAS but makes an interesting contribution, we offer authors the option of having the reviews forwarded to the editor-in-chief of a more appropriate journal for an expedited review process.

TOPLAS has partnerships  that allow TOPLAS papers to be presented at various conferences. These conferences currently include POPL, PLDI, OOPSLA, and ECOOP. Authors interested in such a presentation must indicate this clearly in their cover letter and identify the conference of interest. This option is available only for work that has not been previously presented at a conference. The TOPLAS reviewers, along with the conference program chair, will decide whether a conference presentation is merited.

Submission Instructions

Please read ACM's policies on these issues:

  1. You must submit your paper using ACM manuscript central. (If you need an account, select "create an account" in the very top right corner.)
  2. Submissions should take the form of full papers with appropriate citations. In the digital library, you may also include supplemental materials such as implementations, test programs, and source data, if your submission is accepted.
  3. Your submission should adhere to the ACM policies on prior publication, including correct citations of your own and other prior work. Your submission must include a cover letter documenting where any prior version of the submitted material may have appeared, whether it be a thesis, workshop, conference, or journal publication. If your submission is also being submitted for presentation in a conference, this intention should be indicated in the cover letter, and the conference should be identified by name.
  4. Please prepare your submission in LaTeX or Word formatted in the ACM style that is required for publication in TOPLAS. Instructions for these formats are on the ACM Web site:
  5. Your submission should have ACM Categories and Subject Descriptors and as many of the 16 fixed ACM General Terms as apply. Please go to the ACM Computing Classification System for additional information. You may also supply any additional keywords and phrases you would like included.
  6. Language Services. ACM has partnered with International Science Editing (ISE) to provide language editing services to ACM authors. ISE offers a comprehensive range of services for authors including standard and premium English language editing, as well as illustration and translation services, and also has significant international outreach, especially in China. Editing is available for both Word and LaTeX files. As an ACM author, you will receive a generous discount on ISE editing services.

    To take advantage of this partnership, visit  (Editing services are at author expense and do not guarantee publication of a manuscript.)

    Please note that formatting assistance is provided at no charge to authors by Aptara, as specified on the author style guide page:

  7. Author Representations. Authors submitting papers for peer-review to ACM publications make the representations listed here.

Final Copy Instructions

You must prepare your source files (text and bibliography) in LaTex or Word formatted in ACM style.

Instructions for these formats are on the ACM Web site:

  1. Files must have ACM Categories and Subject Descriptors and as many of the 16 fixed ACM General Terms as apply. Please go to the ACM Computing Classification System for this. You may also supply any additional keywords and phrases you would like included.
  2. You will need to provide PDFs of your source files.
  3. You will also need to provide EPS files of your figures.
  4. All author rights forms are now filled electronically through the ACM e-Rights Transfer Application. If your paper was submitted before April 2, 2013, has recently been accepted, and you have not yet been contacted concerning e-rights transfer, please send your manuscript number to Laura Lander, Journals Manager, at [email protected]
  5. Note that you may submit additional electronic materials, such as benchmarks and source code, to be archived together with your paper in the digital library. In addition, you may use color graphics in the digital library. The print version will still be black and white, so please ensure your paper is easy to read in both formats.
  6. ACM's Author-Izer Service extends ACM's support for self-archiving by enabling authors to generate and post links in their own bibliographies that they maintain on either their personal home page or institutional repository. These links will let any visitors to your personal bibliography pages download the definitive version of the articles for free from the ACM DL. These downloads will be recorded as part of your DL usage statistics. A summary description of the service and instructions for its use may be found here.
  7. Supplemental Online-only Material. Please provide a brief description of your supplementary online-only material (i.e., text and multimedia material) to be published in the Digital Library. A short "readme.txt" file will appear in the DL along with your supplementary material describing its content and whatever requirements there are for using it.

Citing TOPLAS Papers

ACM has inaugurated a new reference format for its articles to more easily facilitate on-line publication. For example, the 13th article in volume 3 of the ACM Transactions on Programming Languages and Systems (TOPLAS), which appears in the 2nd issue of the volume, posted online in May 2007, is referenced as follows.

  • Smith, J. Q., Zeeker, J., and Lovelace, L. 2007. Reactive programming languages. ACM Trans. Program. Lang. Syst. 3, 2, Article 13 (May 2007), 23 pages. DOI = 10.1145/1240233.1240236.

Note that the date given in the reference is associated with the article rather than the issue. The publication date for each article is provided on each page of the article. This date corresponds to when the article is posted to the DL, not the date in which the print digest for the issue is subsequently distributed. The print issue itself no longer has a date associated with it, just an issue number. This change eliminates the conflation of article publication date and the date of print distribution.

Author Rights

Working with the computing community, ACM leadership has responded to calls to make scholarly articles more openly accessible, to enable authors to exercise greater control of their published works, and to comply with the increasing demands placed on authors by funding agencies. 

ACM authors now have three ways to manage their publication rights with ACM:

  1. A license granting ACM non-exclusive permission to publish—by choosing to pay for perpetual open access from the ACM Digital Library, authors may opt to self-manage all rights to their work. 
  2. A new Publishing License Agreement granting ACM exclusive publication rights—in choosing this license authors grant ACM the right to serve as the exclusive publisher of their work and to manage ongoing rights and permissions associated with the work, including the right to defend it against improper use by third parties. This exclusive license is roughly the equivalent of ACM’s traditional Copyright Transfer Agreement except that the author continues to hold copyright. 
  3. ACM's traditional Copyright Transfer Agreement—for authors comfortable with the existing agreement.

Learn more by visiting the Information for Authors webpage.


ACM is also implementing changes to to allow for more free access to the content of ACM journals and Special Interest Group conference proceedings in the ACM Digital Library and other online venues:

  • SIGs may choose to enable open access to the most current proceedings volume of their sponsored conferences from the conference or SIG site.
  • SIGs may make conference proceedings freely available via the ACM DL platform for up to two weeks before the event, and for a total of one month.

These options will facilitate access to proceedings content by conference attendees. They will also enable the community at large to learn about the latest developments as they are presented at the conferences.

Authors can post an Author-Izer link enabling free downloads of the Definitive Version of the work permanently maintained in the ACM Digital Library.

ACM Computing Classification System (CCS)

An important aspect of preparing your paper for publication by ACM Press is to provide the proper indexing and retrieval information from the ACM Computing Classification System (CCS). This is beneficial to you because accurate categorization provides the reader with quick content reference, facilitating the search for related literature, as well as searches for your work in ACM's Digital Library and on other online resources.


Word Template Page

LaTeX Template Page

For further assistance

  • Questions regarding editorial review process should be directed to the Editor-in-Chief.
  • Questions regarding the post-acceptance production process should be addressed to the Publisher, Laura A. Lander.
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