How to format your references using the BMJ citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for BMJ. 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.
EndNoteFind the style here: output styles overview
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
Tommassen J. Biochemistry. Getting into and through the outer membrane. Science 2007;317:903–4.
A journal article with 2 authors
Krajcik JS, Sutherland LM. Supporting students in developing literacy in science. Science 2010;328:456–9.
A journal article with 3 authors
Malmgren RD, Ottino JM, Nunes Amaral LA. The role of mentorship in protégé performance. Nature 2010;465:622–6.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Ji Q, Ji S-A, Cheng Y-N, et al. Palaeontology: pterosaur egg with a leathery shell. Nature 2004;432:572.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Kerzner H. Project Management Case Studies. Hoboken, NJ: : John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2017.
An edited book
Gabryś-Barker D, Piechurska-Kuciel E, Zybert J, editors. Investigations in Teaching and Learning Languages: Studies in Honour of Hanna Komorowska. Heidelberg: : Springer International Publishing 2013.
A chapter in an edited book
Atienza Alonso D, Mamagkakis S, Poucet C, et al. Intermediate Variable Removal from Dynamic Applications. In: Mamagkakis S, Poucet C, Peón-Quirós M, et al., eds. Dynamic Memory Management for Embedded Systems. Cham: : Springer International Publishing 2015. 135–66.

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 BMJ.

Blog post
Luntz S. All Of Feynman’s Lectures Now Available Online Completely Free. IFLScience. 2014.’s-lectures-now-available-online-completely-free/ (accessed 30 Oct 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. Millions in Savings Possible in Converting Programs From One Computer to Another. Washington, DC: : U.S. Government Printing Office 1977.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Bates K. Drivers of Engagement for Volunteers in a Nonprofit. 2017.

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
Vecsey G. Long-Suffering Saints Fans Could Use Some Good Times. New York Times. 2010;:SP2.

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 titleBMJ
ISSN (print)0959-8138
ISSN (online)1756-1833

Other styles