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
López-Urrutia A. 2003 Allometry: How reliable is the biological time clock? Nature 424, 269–70; discussion 270.
A journal article with 2 authors
Rosegrant MW, Cline SA. 2003 Global food security: challenges and policies. Science 302, 1917–1919.
A journal article with 3 authors
Gleiche M, Chi LF, Fuchs H. 2000 Nanoscopic channel lattices with controlled anisotropic wetting. Nature 403, 173–175.
A journal article with 11 or more authors
Arbeitman MN et al. 2002 Gene expression during the life cycle of Drosophila melanogaster. Science 297, 2270–2275.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Petrucelli JR. 2013 Detecting Fraud in Organizations. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
An edited book
Babuška R, Groen FCA, editors. 2010 Interactive Collaborative Information Systems. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer.
A chapter in an edited book
Luo G et al. 2015 Abnormal Development of the Vagina. In Atlas of Surgical Correction of Female Genital Malformation (eds L Zhu, F Wong, J Lang), pp. 85–206. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.

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
Andrews R. 2017 We Finally Know Why People Are Left- Or Right-Handed. 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. 1991 Federal Research: SEMATECH’s Efforts to Develop and Transfer Manufacturing Technology.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Nesbit PR. 2014 Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles and Structure from Motion: A fresh approach to photogrammetry. Doctoral dissertation, California State University, Long Beach, Long Beach, CA.

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
Kelly C. 2007 Instant Fortunes, and Sudden Headaches. New York Times, 29 December. , C1.

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