How to format your references using the Cell Systems citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for Cell Systems. 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
Collins, F.S. (2004). The case for a US prospective cohort study of genes and environment. Nature 429, 475–477.
A journal article with 2 authors
Rape, M., and Kirschner, M.W. (2004). Autonomous regulation of the anaphase-promoting complex couples mitosis to S-phase entry. Nature 432, 588–595.
A journal article with 3 authors
Liu, X., Gross, R.L., and Suits, A.G. (2001). “Heavy electron” photoelectron spectroscopy: rotationally resolved ion pair imaging of CH3+. Science 294, 2527–2529.
A journal article with 11 or more authors
Huang, G., Hou, C., Shao, Y., Wang, H., Zhang, Q., Li, Y., and Zhu, M. (2014). Highly strong and elastic graphene fibres prepared from universal graphene oxide precursors. Sci. Rep. 4, 4248.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Misstear, B., Banks, D., and Clark, L. (2006). Water Wells and Boreholes (Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd).
An edited book
Caveen, A. (2015). The Controversy over Marine Protected Areas: Science meets Policy (Cham: Springer International Publishing).
A chapter in an edited book
Pelton, J.N., and Singh, I.B. (2015). Cybersecurity for Smart Phones, Mobile Apps, and “The Cloud.” In Digital Defense: A Cybersecurity Primer, I.B. Singh, ed. (Cham: Springer International Publishing), pp. 83–101.

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 Cell Systems.

Blog post
Fang, J. (2015). Temperature Swings Thousands of Degrees on Hellish Super Earth (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 (1996). Amendment of FCC Rules to Deregulate the Equipment Authorization Requirements for Digital Devices (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office).

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Jenkins, M.M. (2009). Clinical decision-making and pediatric bipolar disorder. Doctoral dissertation. University of North Carolina.

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
Hodgman, J. (2017). Bonus Advice From Judge John Hodgman. New York Times MM22.

In-text citations

References should be cited in the text by name and year in parentheses:

This sentence cites one reference (Collins, 2004).
This sentence cites two references (Collins, 2004; Rape and Kirschner, 2004).

Here are examples of in-text citations with multiple authors:

  • Two authors: (Rape and Kirschner, 2004)
  • Three or more authors: (Huang et al., 2014)

About the journal

Full journal titleCell Systems
AbbreviationCell Syst.
ISSN (print)2405-4712
ISSN (online)2405-4720

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