How to format your references using the Biological Theory citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for Biological Theory. 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
Kemp M (2003) Science in culture: Leonardo lifts off. Nature 421:792
A journal article with 2 authors
Xie J, Black DL (2001) A CaMK IV responsive RNA element mediates depolarization-induced alternative splicing of ion channels. Nature 410:936–939
A journal article with 3 authors
Terry LJ, Shows EB, Wente SR (2007) Crossing the nuclear envelope: hierarchical regulation of nucleocytoplasmic transport. Science 318:1412–1416
A journal article with 5 or more authors
Genovese G, Friedman DJ, Ross MD, et al (2010) Association of trypanolytic ApoL1 variants with kidney disease in African Americans. Science 329:841–845

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Pozzilli P, Lenzi A, Clarke BL, Young WF Jr (2013) Imaging in Endocrinology. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester, UK
An edited book
Dalvit D, Milonni P, Roberts D, da Rosa F (eds) (2011) Casimir Physics. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg
A chapter in an edited book
Tayeh AAO, Signer B (2015) A Dynamically Extensible Open Cross-Document Link Service. In: Wang J, Cellary W, Wang D, et al. (eds) Web Information Systems Engineering – WISE 2015: 16th International Conference, Miami, FL, USA, November 1-3, 2015, Proceedings, Part I. Springer International Publishing, Cham, pp 61–76

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 Biological Theory.

Blog post
Davis J (2016) Can Marijuana Treat Opioid Addiction? In: IFLScience. Accessed 30 Oct 2018


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 (1986) Deaf Education: Costs and Student Characteristics at Federally Assisted Schools. 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
Glover D (2010) Reconciling the doctrine of original sin with principles of moral responsibility. Doctoral dissertation, California State University, Long Beach

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
Leland J (2017) The City Awakens. New York Times MB7

In-text citations

References should be cited in the text by name and year in parentheses:

This sentence cites one reference (Kemp 2003).
This sentence cites two references (Xie and Black 2001; Kemp 2003).

Here are examples of in-text citations with multiple authors:

  • Two authors: (Xie and Black 2001)
  • Three or more authors: (Genovese et al. 2010)

About the journal

Full journal titleBiological Theory
AbbreviationBiol. Theory
ISSN (print)1555-5542
ISSN (online)1555-5550

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