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
Macilwain C. 2011. Can Europe build a framework for success? Nature 473:421.
A journal article with 2 authors
Lujambio A, Lowe SW. 2012. The microcosmos of cancer. Nature 482:347–355.
A journal article with 3 authors
Smith SJ, Wigley TM, Edmonds J. 2000. CLIMATE: A New Route Toward Limiting Climate Change? Science 290:1109–1110.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Branquinho LC, Carrião MS, Costa AS, Zufelato N, Sousa MH, Miotto R, Ivkov R, Bakuzis AF. 2013. Effect of magnetic dipolar interactions on nanoparticle heating efficiency: implications for cancer hyperthermia. Sci Rep 3:2887.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Scharf T. 2006. Polarized Light in Liquid Crystals and Polymers. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
An edited book
Stone PG, Brough D, editors. 2014. Managing, Using, and Interpreting Hadrian’s Wall as World Heritage, SpringerBriefs in Archaeology. New York, NY: Springer.
A chapter in an edited book
Demetriades AK, Ringel F, Meyer B. 2014. Cervical Disc Arthroplasty: A Critical Review and Appraisal of the Latest Available Evidence In: Schramm J, editor. Advances and Technical Standards in Neurosurgery: Volume 41, Advances and Technical Standards in Neurosurgery. Cham: Springer International Publishing. pp. 107–129.

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
Fang J. 2015. Early Australians Overlapped With Giant, Predatory Lizards. 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. 1995. Federally Funded R&D Centers: Use of Contract Fee by The Aerospace Corporation (No. NSIAD-95-174). 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
Christiansen DA. 2012. Investigation of magnetic proximity effect in ferromagnet/superconductor thin films by low temperature Magneto Optical Kerr Effect measurement (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
Gottlieb S, Emanuel EJ. 2013. No, There Won’t Be a Doctor Shortage. New York Times A35.

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Macilwain, 2011).
This sentence cites two references (Lujambio and Lowe, 2012; Macilwain, 2011).

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

  • Two authors: (Lujambio and Lowe, 2012)
  • Three or more authors: (Branquinho et al., 2013)

About the journal

Full journal titleeLife
ISSN (online)2050-084X

Other styles