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
Howell P (2011) Listen to the lessons of The King’s Speech. Nature 470:7
A journal article with 2 authors
Denchi EL, de Lange T (2007) Protection of telomeres through independent control of ATM and ATR by TRF2 and POT1. Nature 448:1068–1071
A journal article with 3 authors
Turk MJ, Abel T, O’Shea B (2009) The formation of Population III binaries from cosmological initial conditions. Science 325:601–605
A journal article with 5 or more authors
Bos KI, Schuenemann VJ, Golding GB, et al (2011) A draft genome of Yersinia pestis from victims of the Black Death. Nature 478:506–510

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Liu S, Liu Y (2011) Modeling and Simulation for Microelectronic Packaging Assembly. John Wiley & Sons (Asia) Pte Ltd, Singapore
An edited book
Li W, Huhns MN, Tsai W-T, Wu W (eds) (2015) Crowdsourcing: Cloud-Based Software Development. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg
A chapter in an edited book
Avin C, Borokhovich M, Haeupler B, Lotker Z (2013) Self-adjusting Grid Networks to Minimize Expected Path Length. In: Moscibroda T, Rescigno AA (eds) Structural Information and Communication Complexity: 20th International Colloquium, SIROCCO 2013, Ischia, Italy, July 1-3, 2013, Revised Selected Papers. Springer International Publishing, Cham, pp 36–54

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
Andrews R (2016) The “Red King” Pattern Of Evolution Is Often Replaced By The “Red Queen.” 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 (1993) Job Corps Costs and Outcomes. 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
Beck J (2010) Community based human trafficking awareness program: A grant proposal project. 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
Chapman MM (2011) Packard, 81, Is a Youngster to Its Driver. New York Times AU1

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Howell 2011).
This sentence cites two references (Denchi and de Lange 2007; Howell 2011).

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

  • Two authors: (Denchi and de Lange 2007)
  • Three or more authors: (Bos et al. 2011)

About the journal

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

Other styles