How to format your references using the BMJ Open citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for BMJ Open. 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
Smith O. Biomedicine. Nota bene: weathering the big chill. Science 2003;299:530.
A journal article with 2 authors
Williams BG, Dye C. Antiretroviral drugs for tuberculosis control in the era of HIV/AIDS. Science 2003;301:1535–7.
A journal article with 3 authors
Schoener TW, Spiller DA, Losos JB. Predators increase the risk of catastrophic extinction of prey populations. Nature 2001;412:183–6.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Noguchi T, Nakamura T, Kimura M, et al. Incipient space weathering observed on the surface of Itokawa dust particles. Science 2011;333:1121–5.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Troppens U, Erkens R, Müller W. Storage Networks Explained. Chichester, UK: : John Wiley & Sons, Ltd 2004.
An edited book
Bourguignon J-P, Jégou B, Kerdelhué B, et al., editors. Multi-System Endocrine Disruption. Berlin, Heidelberg: : Springer 2011.
A chapter in an edited book
Horne R, Umarov T. Ensuring Faultless Communication Behaviour in A Commercial Cloud. In: Counsell S, Núñez M, eds. Software Engineering and Formal Methods: SEFM 2013 Collocated Workshops: BEAT2, WS-FMDS, FM-RAIL-Bok, MoKMaSD, and OpenCert, Madrid, Spain, September 23-24, 2013, Revised Selected Papers. Cham: : Springer International Publishing 2014. 44–55.

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 Open.

Blog post
Hamilton K. Velvet Worm Slimes Prey In Wild Spray Attack. IFLScience. 2015.


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. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: National Weather Service Modernization and Weather Satellite Program. Washington, DC: : U.S. Government Printing Office 2000.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Parada PM. Culture and Early Language Development: Implications for Assessment and Intervention. 2013.

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
LaFRANIERE S, Kirkpatrick DD, Vogel KP. Guest at Trump Tower Meeting Has Aided Close Allies of Putin. New York Times. 2017;:A1.

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 Open
AbbreviationBMJ Open
ISSN (online)2044-6055
ScopeGeneral Medicine

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