How to format your references using the Biology Letters citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for Biology Letters. 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.
EndNoteDownload the output style file
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
Hoag H. 2003 Chemists’ salaries turn south. Nature 422, 650.
A journal article with 2 authors
Gilg O, Yoccoz NG. 2010 Ecology. Explaining bird migration. Science 327, 276–277.
A journal article with 3 authors
Ishishita S, Matsuda Y, Kitada K. 2014 Genetic evidence suggests that Spata22 is required for the maintenance of Rad51 foci in mammalian meiosis. Sci. Rep. 4, 6148.
A journal article with 11 or more authors
Iyer R, Iverson TM, Accardi A, Miller C. 2002 A biological role for prokaryotic ClC chloride channels. Nature 419, 715–718.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Pasternak JJ. 2005 An Introduction to Human Molecular Genetics. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
An edited book
Schulze H, Italiano J, editors. 2016 Molecular and Cellular Biology of Platelet Formation: Implications in Health and Disease. Cham: Springer International Publishing.
A chapter in an edited book
Shirabe T. 2011 Information on the Consequence of a Move and Its Use for Route Improvisation Support. In Spatial Information Theory: 10th International Conference, COSIT 2011, Belfast, ME, USA, September 12-16, 2011. Proceedings (eds M Egenhofer, N Giudice, R Moratz, M Worboys), pp. 57–72. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer.

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 Biology Letters.

Blog post
O`Callaghan J. 2017 SpaceX Just Released An Awesome Video Of Its Reusable Rocket Landing. IFLScience. See (accessed on 30 October 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. 1974 Independent Research and Development Allocations Should Not Absorb Costs of Commercial Development Work.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Wang E. 2017 Anisotropy of Magnetic Susceptibility Investigation of the Coyote Mountain Shear Zone. Doctoral dissertation, 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
Koniak SP, Cohen GM, Dana DA, Ross T. 2010 How Washington Abetted the Bank Job. New York Times, 4 April. , WK10.

In-text citations

References should be cited in the text by sequential numbers in square brackets:

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 titleBiology Letters
AbbreviationBiol. Lett.
ISSN (print)1744-9561
ISSN (online)1744-957X
ScopeGeneral Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)

Other styles