How to format your references using the eLife citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for eLife. 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
Falke JJ. 2002. Enzymology. A moving story. Science 295:1480–1481.
A journal article with 2 authors
Colavita A, Tessier-Lavigne M. 2003. A Neurexin-related protein, BAM-2, terminates axonal branches in C. elegans. Science 302:293–296.
A journal article with 3 authors
Cohen IG, Savulescu J, Adashi EY. 2015. Medicine. Transatlantic lessons in regulation of mitochondrial replacement therapy. Science 348:178–180.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Viboud C, Bjørnstad ON, Smith DL, Simonsen L, Miller MA, Grenfell BT. 2006. Synchrony, waves, and spatial hierarchies in the spread of influenza. Science 312:447–451.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Liu W, Pecht M. 2005. IC Component Sockets. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
An edited book
Selzer PM, Marhöfer RJ, Rohwer A, editors. 2008. Applied Bioinformatics: An Introduction. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer.
A chapter in an edited book
Nguyen D, Stritikus T. 2012. Strategic Identity Negotiation In: Urias DA, editor. The Immigration & Education Nexus: A Focus on the Context & Consequences of Schooling. Rotterdam: SensePublishers. pp. 57–81.

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 eLife.

Blog post
Taub B. 2016. Orangutans Can Guess How Things Taste Before They’ve Even Tried Them. 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. 2000. Early Education and Care: Overlap Indicates Need to Assess Crosscutting Programs (No. HEHS-00-78). 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
Collins K. 2014. Learning to live in the layers: Traveling soul’s way through poetry (Doctoral dissertation). Carpinteria, CA: Pacifica Graduate Institute.

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
Williams J. 2017. Eleanor’s Encouragement. New York Times BR4.

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Falke, 2002).
This sentence cites two references (Colavita and Tessier-Lavigne, 2003; Falke, 2002).

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

  • Two authors: (Colavita and Tessier-Lavigne, 2003)
  • Three or more authors: (Viboud et al., 2006)

About the journal

Full journal titleeLife
ISSN (online)2050-084X

Other styles