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
Winchester S. 2008 China: The man who unveiled China. Nature 454, 409–411.
A journal article with 2 authors
Salichos L, Rokas A. 2013 Inferring ancient divergences requires genes with strong phylogenetic signals. Nature 497, 327–331.
A journal article with 3 authors
Maisel SB, Höfler M, Müller S. 2012 A canonical stability-elasticity relationship verified for one million face-centred-cubic structures. Nature 491, 740–743.
A journal article with 11 or more authors
Oieroset M, Phan TD, Fujimoto M, Lin RP, Lepping RP. 2001 In situ detection of collisionless reconnection in the Earth’s magnetotail. Nature 412, 414–417.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Miller MA. 2005 Internet Technologies Handbook. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
An edited book
Amyot D, Williams AW, editors. 2005 System Analysis and Modeling: 4th International SDL and MSC Workshop, SAM 2004, Ottawa, Canada, June 1-4, 2004, Revised Selected Papers. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer.
A chapter in an edited book
Kersten R, van Gastel B, Drijvers M, Smetsers S, van Eekelen M. 2013 Using Model-Checking to Reveal a Vulnerability of Tamper-Evident Pairing. In NASA Formal Methods: 5th International Symposium, NFM 2013, Moffett Field, CA, USA, May 14-16, 2013. Proceedings (eds G Brat, N Rungta, A Venet), pp. 63–77. 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
Fang J. 2014 New Map Shows That Asteroids Hit Earth Far More Often Than We Thought. 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. 2008 Telecommunications: Agencies Are Generally Following Sound Transition Planning Practices, and GSA Is Taking Action to Resolve Challenges.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Rabalais ME. 2014 STEAM: A National Study of the Integration of the Arts Into STEM Instruction and its Impact on Student Achievement. 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
Walsh MW. 2017 At Food Co-op, a Rift Over Its Pension Fund. New York Times, 31 January. , B5.

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