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
Guillén N (2014) Infection biology: Nibbled to death. Nature 508:462–463
A journal article with 2 authors
Kappe SHI, Mikolajczak SA (2011) Immunology. Another shot at a malaria vaccine. Science 334:460–461
A journal article with 3 authors
Ballentine CJ, Porcelli D, Wieler R (2001) Noble gases in mantle plumes. Science 291:2269
A journal article with 5 or more authors
Alessandrini M, Micarelli A, Chiaravalloti A, et al (2014) Cortico-subcortical metabolic correlates of olfactory processing in healthy resting subjects. Sci Rep 4:5146

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Goering H, Roos H-G, Tobiska L (2010) Die Finite-Elemente-Methode für Anfänger. Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim, Germany
An edited book
Dumitraşcu N (ed) (2016) The Ecumenical Legacy of the Cappadocians. Palgrave Macmillan US, New York, NY
A chapter in an edited book
Fend F, Quintanilla-Martínez L (2012) The Application of Molecular Techniques on Bone Marrow Trephines. In: Anagnostou D, Matutes E (eds) Bone Marrow Lymphoid Infiltrates: Diagnosis and Clinical Impact. Springer, London, pp 67–81

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
Andrew E (2015) Four Things That You Should Know About The EPA Clean Power Plan. 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 (1991) Tax Policy: Refund Offset Program Benefits Appear to Exceed Costs. 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
Balakrishnan G (2017) Cognitive radio cooperative spectrum sensing. 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
Qiu L (2017) What He Said She Said, and a Disquisition About Disclosures. New York Times A11

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Guillén 2014).
This sentence cites two references (Kappe and Mikolajczak 2011; Guillén 2014).

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

  • Two authors: (Kappe and Mikolajczak 2011)
  • Three or more authors: (Alessandrini et al. 2014)

About the journal

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

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