How to format your references using the American Family Physician citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for American Family Physician. 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
Sagata N. Molecular biology. Untangling checkpoints. Science. 2002 Dec 6;298(5600):1905–7.
A journal article with 2 authors
Gilg O, Yoccoz NG. Ecology. Explaining bird migration. Science. 2010 Jan 15;327(5963):276–7.
A journal article with 3 authors
Wilson RI, Turner GC, Laurent G. Transformation of olfactory representations in the Drosophila antennal lobe. Science. 2004 Jan 16;303(5656):366–70.
A journal article with 7 or more authors
Lu J, Gu Y, Feng J, Zhou W, Yang X, Shen Y. Structural insight into the central element assembly of the synaptonemal complex. Sci Rep. 2014 Nov 14;4:7059.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Charalambides CA. Combinatorial Methods in Discrete Distributions: Charalambides/Combinatorial. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; 2005. (Wiley Series in Probability and Statistics).
An edited book
Xie X. Suizhou Meteorite: Mineralogy and Shock Metamorphism. Chen M, editor. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer; 2016. XIV, 258 p. 168 illus., 17 illus. in color. (Springer Geochemistry/Mineralogy).
A chapter in an edited book
Ellwart D, Czyżewski A. Camera Angle Invariant Shape Recognition in Surveillance Systems. In: Tsihrintzis GA, Damiani E, Virvou M, Howlett RJ, Jain LC, editors. Intelligent Interactive Multimedia Systems and Services. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer; 2010. p. 33–40. (Howlett RJ, Jain LC, editors. Smart Innovation, Systems and Technologies).

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 American Family Physician.

Blog post
Andrew E. IFLScience. IFLScience; 2015 [cited 2018 Oct 30]. Severe Burns Dramatically Affect your Gut Bacteria. Available 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. Nanomanufacturing: Emergence and Implications for U.S. Competitiveness, the Environment, and Human Health. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office; 2014 Jan. Report No.: GAO-14-181SP.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Patra P. Image scaling with three different interpolation techniques and their comparisons [Doctoral dissertation]. [Long Beach, CA]: California State University, Long Beach; 2009.

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
Hartocollis A. New Girl in School: Transgender Surgery at 18. New York Times. 2015 Jun 17;A1.

In-text citations

References should be cited in the text by sequential numbers in parentheses:

This sentence cites one reference (1).
This sentence cites two references (1,2).
This sentence cites four references (1–4).

About the journal

Full journal titleAmerican Family Physician
ISSN (print)0002-838X
ISSN (online)1532-0650

Other styles