How to format your references using the ACM Transactions on Programming Languages and Systems citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for ACM Transactions on Programming Languages and Systems (TOPLAS). 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
David R. Smith. 2005. Applied physics. How to build a superlens. Science 308, 5721 (April 2005), 502–503.
A journal article with 2 authors
John Bongaarts and Mead Over. 2010. Public health. Global HIV/AIDS policy in transition. Science 328, 5984 (June 2010), 1359–1360.
A journal article with 3 authors
Mikko T. Koskinen, Thrond O. Haugen, and Craig R. Primmer. 2002. Contemporary fisherian life-history evolution in small salmonid populations. Nature 419, 6909 (October 2002), 826–830.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
P. Bernard, J. F. Maure, J. F. Partridge, S. Genier, J. P. Javerzat, and R. C. Allshire. 2001. Requirement of heterochromatin for cohesion at centromeres. Science 294, 5551 (December 2001), 2539–2542.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Michael Edgerton. 2013. A Practitioner’s Guide to Effective Maritime and Port Security. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ.
An edited book
Lucio Grandinetti, Thomas Lippert, and Nicolai Petkov (Eds.). 2014. Brain-Inspired Computing: International Workshop, BrainComp 2013, Cetraro, Italy, July 8-11, 2013, Revised Selected Papers. Springer International Publishing, Cham.
A chapter in an edited book
Mark Stenhouse and Bobby Patel. 2016. Irrigation and Disinfection. In Endodontic Treatment, Retreatment, and Surgery: Mastering Clinical Practice, Bobby Patel (ed.). Springer International Publishing, Cham, 101–128.

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 Programming Languages and Systems.

Blog post
Robin Andrews. 2016. A Supervolcano Stopped An Earthquake Dead In Its Tracks In Japan This Year. IFLScience. Retrieved October 30, 2018 from


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. 2001. National Airspace System: Free Flight Tools Show Promise, but Implementation Challenges Remain. 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
Angel Custodio Otarola. 2008. The effects of turbulence in an absorbing atmosphere on the propagation of microwave signals used in an active sounding system. Doctoral dissertation. University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.

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
Michael Schwirtz and Benjamin Mueller. 2017. Inmate at Rikers Is Missing After Eluding Several Guards. New York Times, A25.

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 [3,4].
This sentence cites four references [4,6–8].

About the journal

Full journal titleACM Transactions on Programming Languages and Systems
AbbreviationACM Trans. Program. Lang. Syst.
ISSN (print)0164-0925
ISSN (online)1558-4593

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