What are the differences between preprint and postprint versions?

Preprints and postprints are defined in different ways. The Sherpa Romeo database makes the following distinction: preprints are all the versions of an academic article or other publication before it has been submitted for peer review, while the postprint is the form of the article after all the peer review changes are in place. One can further differentiate between author’s manuscript – the last version which authors send before publication – and publisher’s version which is also called version of record.

Publishers have different policies when it comes to publishing preprints and postprints. The key question with preprints is generally whether they may be archived or not. In the case of postprints, the key issue is generally the look or format of the publication: many publishers only permit green open access if it is not the publisher's version-of-record that is self-archived, but rather a version that does not feature the publisher's own formatting and logo. As a rule, the version that is suitable for archiving is the final version of the article after all the peer review changes are in place. 

The Sherpa Romeo database can provide basic information on the extent to which respective articles from academic journals may be archived, as well as any format restrictions and embargo periods. 

See also

Electronic self-archiving: what are the key issues to consider when self-archiving publications in open access repositories (online archives) or on websites?
Faster dissemination of research findings – key facts about preprints


Important note: The information and links provided here do not represent any form of binding legal advice. They are solely intended to provide an initial basis to help get you on the right track. ZB MED – Information Centre for Life Sciences has carefully checked the information included in the list of FAQs. However, we are unable to accept any liability whatsoever for any errors it may contain. Unless indicated otherwise, any statements concerning individual statutory norms or regulations refer to German law (FAQ updated 09/2021).


Jasmin Schmitz,

Dr. Jasmin Schmitz
Head of Publication Advisory Services

Phone: +49 (0)221 478-32795
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Related links

Sherpa Romeo