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
Graham-Rowe D. 2013. Public planning: Designs fit for purpose. Nature 493:S4-5.
A journal article with 2 authors
Bao J, Bawendi MG. 2015. A colloidal quantum dot spectrometer. Nature 523:67–70.
A journal article with 3 authors
Kotera E, Tasaka M, Shikanai T. 2005. A pentatricopeptide repeat protein is essential for RNA editing in chloroplasts. Nature 433:326–330.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Xu J, Lahiri I, Wang W, Wier A, Cianfrocco MA, Chong J, Hare AA, Dervan PB, DiMaio F, Leschziner AE, Wang D. 2017. Structural basis for the initiation of eukaryotic transcription-coupled DNA repair. Nature 551:653–657.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Wrobel GM, Neil E. 2009. International Advances in Adoption Research for Practice. Chichester, West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
An edited book
Damro C. 2016. European Competition Policy and Globalization, Palgrave Studies in European Union Politics. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK.
A chapter in an edited book
Stankovic I, Voigt J-U. 2013. Echocardiography in the Clinical Evaluation of Heart Failure: What Clinicians Need to know and Echocardiographers Should Report In: Bartunek J, Vanderheyden M, editors. Translational Approach to Heart Failure. New York, NY: Springer. pp. 91–118.

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
Andrew E. 2015. 170-Million-Year-Old Fossil Of Previously Unknown Marine Reptile Found In Scotland. 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. 1990. Aircraft Maintenance: Air Force Transferred and Eliminated Tasks to Address Funding Shortfalls (No. NSIAD-90-114). 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
Altassan MA. 2017. Employee Training to Increase Efficiency in the Saudi Private Sector (Doctoral dissertation). Malibu, CA: Pepperdine University.

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
Gordon MR, Erdbrink T. 2017. U.S. Shoots Down Syrian Warplane; Iran Launches Missiles Into Syria. New York Times A10.

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Graham-Rowe, 2013).
This sentence cites two references (Bao and Bawendi, 2015; Graham-Rowe, 2013).

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

  • Two authors: (Bao and Bawendi, 2015)
  • Three or more authors: (Xu et al., 2017)

About the journal

Full journal titleeLife
ISSN (online)2050-084X

Other styles