How to format your references using the ACM Transactions on Computer Systems citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for ACM Transactions on Computer Systems (TOCS). For a complete guide how to prepare your manuscript refer to the journal's instructions to authors.

Using reference management software

Typically you don't format your citations and bibliography by hand. The easiest way is to use a reference manager:

PaperpileThe citation style is built in and you can choose it in Settings > Citation Style or Paperpile > Citation Style in Google Docs.
EndNoteFind the style here: output styles overview
Mendeley, Zotero, Papers, and othersThe style is either built in or you can download a CSL file that is supported by most references management programs.
BibTeXBibTeX syles are usually part of a LaTeX template. Check the instructions to authors if the publisher offers a LaTeX template for this journal.

Journal articles

Those examples are references to articles in scholarly journals and how they are supposed to appear in your bibliography.

Not all journals organize their published articles in volumes and issues, so these fields are optional. Some electronic journals do not provide a page range, but instead list an article identifier. In a case like this it's safe to use the article identifier instead of the page range.

A journal article with 1 author
Gabriel J. Bowen. 2011. Ocean science. A faster water cycle. Science 332, 6028 (April 2011), 430–431.
A journal article with 2 authors
Oscar Vargas-Rodriguez and Karin Musier-Forsyth. 2014. Structural biology: wobble puts RNA on target. Nature 510, 7506 (June 2014), 480–481.
A journal article with 3 authors
Atilio Deana, Helena Celesnik, and Joel G. Belasco. 2008. The bacterial enzyme RppH triggers messenger RNA degradation by 5’ pyrophosphate removal. Nature 451, 7176 (January 2008), 355–358.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
G. Gröbner, I. J. Burnett, C. Glaubitz, G. Choi, A. J. Mason, and A. Watts. 2000. Observations of light-induced structural changes of retinal within rhodopsin. Nature 405, 6788 (June 2000), 810–813.

Books and book chapters

Here are examples of references for authored and edited books as well as book chapters.

An authored book
Pierre Lévy. 2013. The Semantic Sphere 1. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ.
An edited book
Kaoru Yamanouchi. 2006. Progress in Ultrafast Intense Laser Science Volume I. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.
A chapter in an edited book
Liam Zakko, Justin Finch, Marti J. Rothe, and Jane M. Grant-Kels. 2013. Plummer-Vinson Syndrome: Dermatological Features. In Atlas of Dermatological Manifestations of Gastrointestinal Disease, George Y. Wu, Nathan Selsky and Jane M. Grant-Kels (eds.). Springer, New York, NY, 9–10.

Web sites

Sometimes references to web sites should appear directly in the text rather than in the bibliography. Refer to the Instructions to authors for ACM Transactions on Computer Systems.

Blog post
Elise Andrew. 2014. Triple Rescue: Baby Ostriches Comfort Baby Elephant As He’s Airlifted. IFLScience.


This example shows the general structure used for government reports, technical reports, and scientific reports. If you can't locate the report number then it might be better to cite the report as a book. For reports it is usually not individual people that are credited as authors, but a governmental department or agency like "U. S. Food and Drug Administration" or "National Cancer Institute".

Government report
Government Accountability Office. 1976. Managers Need To Provide Better Protection for Federal Automatic Data Processing Facilities. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.

Theses and dissertations

Theses including Ph.D. dissertations, Master's theses or Bachelor theses follow the basic format outlined below.

Doctoral dissertation
Alexander Otto Ballan. 2015. The selfie generation: Students’ perceptions of classroom incivility in social work education. Doctoral dissertation. California State University, Long Beach, Long Beach, CA.

News paper articles

Unlike scholarly journals, news papers do not usually have a volume and issue number. Instead, the full date and page number is required for a correct reference.

New York Times article
George Vecsey. 2013. A Stadium In Queens Is No Walk In the Park. New York Times, B12.

In-text citations

References should be cited in the text by sequential numbers in square brackets:

This sentence cites one reference [2].
This sentence cites two references [2,4].
This sentence cites four references [2,6–8].

About the journal

Full journal titleACM Transactions on Computer Systems
AbbreviationACM Trans. Comput. Syst.
ISSN (print)0734-2071
ISSN (online)1557-7333

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