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
Cavalleri A. 2007. Chemistry. All at once. Science 318:755–756.
A journal article with 2 authors
Lee S-Y, MacKinnon R. 2004. A membrane-access mechanism of ion channel inhibition by voltage sensor toxins from spider venom. Nature 430:232–235.
A journal article with 3 authors
Gilestro GF, Tononi G, Cirelli C. 2009. Widespread changes in synaptic markers as a function of sleep and wakefulness in Drosophila. Science 324:109–112.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Nowoshilow S, Schloissnig S, Fei J-F, Dahl A, Pang AWC, Pippel M, Winkler S, Hastie AR, Young G, Roscito JG, Falcon F, Knapp D, Powell S, Cruz A, Cao H, Habermann B, Hiller M, Tanaka EM, Myers EW. 2018. The axolotl genome and the evolution of key tissue formation regulators. Nature 554:50–55.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Schorn C, Taylor B. 2004. NMR Spectroscopy: Data Acquisition. Weinheim, FRG: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA.
An edited book
Lai PC, Mak ASH, editors. 2007. GIS for Health and the Environment: Development in the Asia-Pacific Region With 110 Figures, Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer.
A chapter in an edited book
Cristino AS, Andrade RFS, da Fontoura Costa L. 2009. Detecting and Characterizing the Modular Structure of the Yeast Transcription Network In: Fortunato S, Mangioni G, Menezes R, Nicosia V, editors. Complex Networks: Results of the 2009 International Workshop on Complex Networks (CompleNet 2009), Studies in Computational Intelligence. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer. pp. 35–46.

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
Luntz S. 2014. Polar Bear Numbers Plummet In Canada And Alaska. 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. 2008. Transportation Safety: Medical Certification and Background Check Requirements for Pilots, Vessel Masters, and Commercial Drivers Vary (No. GAO-08-421R). 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
Cao Q. 2013. East Asian backpacker tourists’ motivations for participating in backpacking (Doctoral dissertation). Long Beach, CA: California State University, Long Beach.

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
Schwartz J. 2017. Pardon My Sweat, Pass the Borscht. New York Times D1.

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Cavalleri, 2007).
This sentence cites two references (Cavalleri, 2007; Lee and MacKinnon, 2004).

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

  • Two authors: (Lee and MacKinnon, 2004)
  • Three or more authors: (Nowoshilow et al., 2018)

About the journal

Full journal titleeLife
ISSN (online)2050-084X

Other styles