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
Philip Farese. 2012. Technology: How to build a low-energy future. Nature 488, 7411 (August 2012), 275–277.
A journal article with 2 authors
Cyrus R. Safinya and Youli Li. 2010. Materials science. Bundling with x-rays. Science 327, 5965 (January 2010), 529–530.
A journal article with 3 authors
Takeshi Sakuno, Kenji Tada, and Yoshinori Watanabe. 2009. Kinetochore geometry defined by cohesion within the centromere. Nature 458, 7240 (April 2009), 852–858.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Fang Li, Wenhui Li, Michael Farzan, and Stephen C. Harrison. 2005. Structure of SARS coronavirus spike receptor-binding domain complexed with receptor. Science 309, 5742 (September 2005), 1864–1868.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Robert A. Alberty. 2005. Thermodynamics of Biochemical Reactions. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ.
An edited book
Klaus Gürlebeck. 2016. Application of Holomorphic Functions in Two and Higher Dimensions. Springer, Basel.
A chapter in an edited book
Amir Hassan Zadeh and Ramesh Sharda. 2015. Hawkes Point Processes for Social Media Analytics. In Reshaping Society through Analytics, Collaboration, and Decision Support: Role of Business Intelligence and Social Media, Lakshmi S. Iyer and Daniel J. Power (eds.). Springer International Publishing, Cham, 51–66.

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
Elise Andrew. 2015. NASA Think They Found Enormous Volcanoes On Pluto’s Surface That Spew ICE Instead Of Lava And Ash. 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. 2012. Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle: DOD Is Addressing Knowledge Gaps in Its New Acquisition Strategy [Reissued on August 13, 2012]. 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
Aderinsola Oduntan. 2017. The Rheological Study of the Effects of Surfactant and Hydrophilic Bentonite Nano clay on Oil in Water Emulsions for Enhanced Oil Recovery. University of Louisiana, Lafayette, LA.

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
Safak Timur and Rod Nordland. 2016. Angry at European Action, Turkey Threatens to Let Migrant Flood Resume. New York Times, A4.

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

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