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
Zuber MT. 2003 Planetary science. Learning to think like Martians. Science 302, 1694–1695.
A journal article with 2 authors
Groves JT, Boaz NC. 2014 Biochemistry. Fishing for peroxidase protons. Science 345, 142–143.
A journal article with 3 authors
Liu H, Gao J, Zhao J. 2013 From boron cluster to two-dimensional boron sheet on Cu(111) surface: growth mechanism and hole formation. Sci. Rep. 3, 3238.
A journal article with 11 or more authors
Wu L, Yang X, Duan X, Cui L, Li G. 2014 Exogenous expression of marine lectins DlFBL and SpRBL induces cancer cell apoptosis possibly through PRMT5-E2F-1 pathway. Sci. Rep. 4, 4505.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Eichhorn MP. 2016 Natural Systems. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
An edited book
Rovenski V. 2011 Topics in Extrinsic Geometry of Codimension-One Foliations. 1st edn. New York, NY: Springer.
A chapter in an edited book
Shin I, Kim M, Choo H. 2008 On Generating Backbone Trees through Robust Multi-hop Clusters in Wireless Sensor Networks. In Computer-Human Interaction: 8th Asia-Pacific Conference, APCHI 2008 Seoul, Korea, July 6-9, 2008 Proceedings (eds S Lee, H Choo, S Ha, IC Shin), pp. 30–39. 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
Andrew D. 2016 RIP E.T. – Alien Life On Most Exoplanets Dies Young. IFLScience.


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. 2014 Early Learning and Child Care: Federal Funds Support Multiple Programs with Similar Goals.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Chan K. 2012 Planned experiences compared to performance standards for entry-level dietetic interns. 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
Shear MD, Kelly K. 2017 Still Civic-Minded, but He’ll Speak for $400,000. New York Times, 26 April. , A13.

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