How to format your references using the Cells citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for Cells. 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
Biemann, K. Astrochemistry: Complex organic matter in Titan’s aerosols? Nature 2006, 444, E6; disccussion E6-7.
A journal article with 2 authors
Folkman, J.; Kalluri, R. Cancer without disease. Nature 2004, 427, 787.
A journal article with 3 authors
Core, L.J.; Waterfall, J.J.; Lis, J.T. Nascent RNA sequencing reveals widespread pausing and divergent initiation at human promoters. Science 2008, 322, 1845–1848.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Chen, Z.P.; Gao, J.E.; Wu, Y.; Wang, H.; Liu, X.J.; Lu, Z.P. Designing novel bulk metallic glass composites with a high aluminum content. Sci. Rep. 2013, 3, 3353.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Kramer-Moore, D.; Moore, M. Destructive Myths in Family Therapy; Wiley-Blackwell: Oxford, UK, 2012; ISBN 9781119943266.
An edited book
Tiwari, R. Aiming Big with Small Cars: Emergence of a Lead Market in India; Herstatt, C., Ed.; India Studies in Business and Economics; Springer International Publishing: Cham, 2014; ISBN 9783319020655.
A chapter in an edited book
El-Khawas, E. A Changed Policy Environment for US Universities. In International Handbook of Educational Policy; Bascia, N., Cumming, A., Datnow, A., Leithwood, K., Livingstone, D., Eds.; Springer International Handbooks of Education; Springer Netherlands: Dordrecht, 2005; pp. 101–114 ISBN 9781402031892.

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 Cells.

Blog post
Davis, J. Secret Water Tunnel Discovered Under Ancient Mayan Temple Available online: (accessed on Oct 30, 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 National Survey of Cable Television Rates and Services; U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington, DC, 1989;

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Grimpo, M. How asthma is related with the rate of influenza vaccination in California’s children. Doctoral dissertation, California State University, Long Beach: Long Beach, CA, 2014.

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
Gorman, J. The Bee Stalkers. New York Times 2016, D1.

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 titleCells
ISSN (online)2073-4409

Other styles