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
Baker M. 2015 Antibody anarchy: A call to order. Nature 527, 545–551.
A journal article with 2 authors
Nishiizumi K, Caffee MW. 2001 Beryllium-10 from the Sun. Science 294, 352–354.
A journal article with 3 authors
Baker CR, Hanson-Smith V, Johnson AD. 2013 Following gene duplication, paralog interference constrains transcriptional circuit evolution. Science 342, 104–108.
A journal article with 11 or more authors
Gravenor MB, Cox DR, Hoinville LJ, Hoek A, McLean AR. 2000 Scrapie in Britain during the BSE years. Nature 406, 584–585.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Hessel V, Löwe H, Müller A, Kolb G. 2005 Chemical Micro Process Engineering. Weinheim, FRG: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA.
An edited book
Bocquet-Appel J-P, Bar-Yosef O, editors. 2008 The Neolithic Demographic Transition and its Consequences. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.
A chapter in an edited book
Akiba K. 2015 Conjunctive, Disjunctive, Negative Objects and Generalized Quantification. In Quantifiers, Quantifiers, and Quantifiers: Themes in Logic, Metaphysics, and Language (ed A Torza), pp. 73–95. Cham: Springer International Publishing.

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
Hamilton K. 2016 Pygmy-Possums In Hibernation Can Sense Danger From Fires. 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. 1988 National Aero-Space Plane: A Technology Development and Demonstration Program To Build the X-30.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Smith J. 2012 The work expectations of individuals with developmental disabilities. 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
Leland J. 2017 After Prayer, Practicing Her Swing. New York Times, 12 May. , MB2.

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