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We all know that feeling…writing a manuscript and using the same words over and over again. Sometimes it’s really difficult to think of alternatives, especially when you’re trying to describe complex scientific protocols in the materials and methods section.

We have put together a huge list of useful words for materials and methods sections. Originally we intended to list at least 100, but we just kept adding more and more, and we’re not finished yet! The list is currently over 160 words long, and still growing. 

Both UK and US English spelling variations are provided in the list. All of the words are listed in the past tense, as this is normally the correct style for the materials and methods section. Each word has a short example of correct use, but most words can be used in a variety of other ways.


1.     Activated:  The reaction was activated by incubation at 100 °C

2.     Added:  …5 mL NaOH was added to the solution

3.     Adjusted:  …and the pH was adjusted to 7.5

4.     Air-dried:  …and the samples were air-dried for 24 h

5.     Allocated:  The animals were randomly allocated to three groups

6.     Amplified: DNA was amplified using Taq polymerase

7.     Analyzed / analysed: All data was analysed using the Student’s t-test

8.     Anesthetised /anesthetized: The rats were anesthetised using ketamine

9.     Applied: …and primary antibody was applied

10.  Assayed:  Luciferase activity was assayed using the Dual Luciferase assay kit

11.  Autoclaved:  The solutions were autoclaved at 121 °C for 20 min

12.  Baked: ….the slides were baked at 200 °C for 1 h

13.  Blocked: The membrane was blocked in TBS-T containing 5% non-fat milk

14.  Boiled:  The sample was boiled at 95°C for 5 min

15.  Caged:  The rats were caged individually

16.  Calculated: The chlorophyll content was calculated as described in [21].

17.  Centrifuged: The sample was centrifuged at 13,000 rpm for 15 min

18.  Chilled:  … chilled at 4 °C for 24 h, ….

19.  Classified: The patients were classified into two groups based on p53 expression

20.  Coated: The slides were coated with 3% APES in methanol

21.  Collected: The cells were collected by centrifugation

22.  Combined: The samples were combined for analysis

23.  Constructed:  The pEDGT vector was constructed using site-directed mutagenesis

24.  Containing: …, washed in PBS containing 1% Tween-20

25.  Cooled: The reaction was cooled

26.  Correlated: The levels of P53 expression were correlated with EGFR expression

27.  Counterstained: …. and counterstained with haematoxylin.

28.  Covered: …. and leaves were covered with foil

29.  Created: The pEYTH plasmid was created by PCR

30.  CulturedE. coli were cultured overnight at 37 °C

31.  Defined:  Pre-diabetes was defined as an impaired glucose tolerance test in the last 6 months.

32.  Denatured:  The DNA was denatured at 94 °C for 15 min

33.  Designed: Primers were designed to quantify p53 and EGFR

34.  Detected: Antibody binding was detected using enhanced chemiluminescence

35.  Determined: The rate of the reaction was determined as described by Smith et al.

36.  Developed: The staining intensity was developed by incubation in 5% copper sulphate solution

37.  Dialysed / Dialyzed: The sample was dialysed against 2M NaCl

38.  Diluted:  The sample was diluted to a final volume of 10 ml

39.  Discarded:  The supernatant was discarded

40.  Dissected:  Tumours were dissected from the normal tissue

41.  Dissolved: Ampicillin was dissolved in water

42.  Donated:  The plasmids and p53 antibody were donated by Prof. J Smith.

43.  Dried: The leaves were dried

44.  Driven: Gene expression was driven by the CMV promoter

45.  Electrophoresed: The samples were electrophoresed on 12% SDS-PAGE gels

46.  Eliminated:  Patients with Stage IV breast cancer were eliminated from the survival analysis

47.  Elongated: The PCR product was elongated at 72 °C for 10 min

48.  Embedded:  The liver and kidney samples were embedded in paraffin

49.  Estimated:  Survival was estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method

50.  Euthanized: The animals were euthanized after 24 days

51.  ExcisedHPRT was excised from the plasmid using Bam HI

52.  Expressed: Human CRCX2 was expressed in HeLa cells

53.  Extracted: DNA was extracted using the phenol:chloroform method

54.  Extrapolated: The curve was extrapolated to determine the intersection of the y-axis

55. Fed: Animals were fed a high-fat diet

56. Filtered: The solution was sterile filtered at 0.2 µM

57. Fixed: The tissues were fixed in paraformaldehyde

58. Followed: …30 cycles of 94°c for 1 min, 60°c for 1 min and 72°c for 1 min, followed by 72°c for 15 min

59. Frozen: The samples were snap frozen in liquid nitrogen

60. Genotyped: The mice were genotyped using PCR

61. Graphed: The data was graphed using Microsoft Excel

62. Ground: The leaves were ground in a pestle and mortar

63. Grouped: The patients were grouped according to tumour stage

64. Harvested: Cells were harvested by scraping

65. Homogenized: The tissues were homogenised

66. Housed: Mice were housed individually under a 12 h light / dark cycle

67. Identified: Disease history was identified from medical records

68. Illuminated: The plants were illuminated using red light

69. Imaged: The sections were imaged by confocal microscopy

70. Immersed: Slides were immersed in fixative for 10 min

71. Incubated: Cells were incubated at 37 °C for 3 days

72. Indicated: The presence of fluorescent labelling indicated DNA damage

73. Infused: The drug was infused at 1 mL/min

74. Inhibited: The reaction was inhibited by addition of 2 mL of 1 M EDTA

75. Initiated: The reaction was initiated by addition of Taq Polymerase

76. Injected: The rats were injected with the drug or control saline solution

77. Inoculated: LB broth was inoculated with 100 µL bacterial supernatant and cultured for 24 h

78. Inserted: The FLOX gene was inserted downstream of the CMV promoter

79. Interrogated: The database was interrogated to identify miR-129 target genes

80. Interviewed: Patients were interviewed to collect a full medical history

81. Investigated: Gene expression was investigated using real-time PCR

82. Isolated: Plasmid DNA was isolated using standard methods

83. Labelled: Cells were labelled with a CD34 antibody

84. Loaded: The protein samples were loaded on 1% agarose gels

85. Localised / localized: Staining was localized to the nucleus

86. Lysed: Cells were lysed in RIPA buffer

87. Magnified: The samples were magnified for further analysis

88. Mated: Heterozygous male mice were mated with wild-type females

89. Measured: Gene expression was measured using real-time RT-PCR

 90. Mixed: Developing solution was added, mixed and used for…

91. Modelled: The data was modelled using a system of partial differential equations

92. Neutralised / neutralized: The reaction was neutralised by addition of 5 mL of 2 M HCl

93. Normalised / normalized: The data was normalized to achieve a standard distribution

94. Observed: Cell migration was observed at 24 h, 48 h and 72 h

95. Obtained: Twenty six glioma samples were obtained from patients undergoing surgery

96. Pelleted: Cells were pelleted by centrifugation

97. Performed: Analysis was performed according to the method of Jones et al. (1996).

98. Picked: Individual colonies were picked using sterile loops

99. Plated: HeLa cells were plated in 30 mm-diameter dishes

100. Plotted: Data was plotted using SPSS software

101. Precipitated: The DNA was precipitated by addition of 15 mL isopropanol

102. Prepared: The samples were prepared as previously described (23).

103. Probed: Membranes were probed with DIG-labelled probes

104. Programmed: PCR was performed using a thermocycler programmed for …

105. Purchased: The CD34 antibody was purchased from Cell Signaling

106. Purified: The plant extract was purified using the method of Jones at al. (2005).

107. Quantified: The bands were quantified using the Gel Doc System

108. Queried: The database was queried using the following search terms:

109. Radio-labelled: Proteins were radio-labelled with P32

110. Reacted: After the enzyme and tissue had reacted, the solutions..

111. Received: All patients received MRI and CT scans

112. Recorded: The data was recorded in Excel

113. Recovered: The DNA was recovered by isopropanol precipitation

114. Recruited: Two hundred type 2 diabetes patients were recruited for this study

115. Removed: The leaves were removed 6 h after treatment

116. Represented: Using the formula of Jones et al., the gradient can be represented as x – y / t

117. Resected: The tumours were resected, then the patients…

118. Resuspended: HeLa cells were resuspended in serum-free media

119. Reverse-transcribed: Total RNA was reverse-transcribed to cDNA

120. Rinsed: The pellet was rinsed in PBS

121. Sampled: Five leaves were sampled from each tree at 3 h intervals

122. Saturated: The membranes were statured with 100% ethanol

123. Scored: Staining was scored as previously described

124. Scraped: The cells were scraped into lysis buffer

125. Sectioned: Tumour blocks were sectioned at 10 µm

126. Stained: Sections were stained using hematoxylin and eosin

127. Selected: Based on the pilot study, 200 mM cisplatin was selected for further experiments

128. Semi-quantitatively scored: Immunostaining was semi-quantitatively scored

129. Separated: Proteins were separated on using a SDS-PAGE gel

130. Shaved: The skin was shaved before surgery

131. Sized: Bands were sized using a DNA ladder

132. Soaked: The membrane was soaked in 100% methanol

133. Spread: Bacterial suspension was spread on LB agar plates

134. Staged: The patients were staged according to the WHO criteria

135. Standardised / Standardized: The assay was standardised by including the standard curve in each replicate

136. Sterilised / Sterilized: The slides were sterilised by baking at 200°C

137. Stirred: then 5 ml EDTA was added, stirred, and the solution was…

138. Stored: The solution was stored at room temperature

139. Stratified: The patients were stratified according to tumour stage

140. Subjected: Samples were subjected to Western blotting

141. Supplemented: DMEM media supplemented with 10% foetal calf serum

142. Sutured: Skin was sutured and the animals were allowed to recover

143. Swabbed: Skin was swabbed with 70% EtOH before surgery

144. Termed: The pcDNA-EGFR plasmid, termed pEGFR in this study,

145. Terminated: The reaction was terminated by addition of 5 ml EDTA

146. Tested: Our hypothesis was tested by investigating the …

147. Titrated: The solution was titrated against 2 M HCl

148. Transferred: Proteins were transferred to PVDF membrane,

149. Transformed: Data was transformed to achieve a normal distribution

150. Treated: Cells were treated with 0, 10, 20 and 30 mM 5-FU for 24 h

151. Trimmed: Frozen blocks were trimmed and sectioned

152. Undergoing: Normal tissues were obtained from patients undergoing tonsillectomy

153. Underwent: All patients received liver ultrasound and CT scans

154. Used: Leaf samples were used for DNA extraction

155. Viewed: Sections were viewed using a light microscope

156. Visualised visualized: Staining was visualised using DAB

157. Vortexed: The solution was vortexed for 30 s

158. Washed: Sections were washed in TBS-T

159. Weighed: Leaves were weighed

160. Wetted: The drug was wetted with EtOH before it was dissolved in water


Hopefully you will find this list of words really useful for your materials and methods sections. 


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