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
Romanowicz B. 2009. Geophysics. The thickness of tectonic plates. Science 324:474–476.
A journal article with 2 authors
Vaquero-Sedas MI, Vega-Palas MA. 2014. Determination of Arabidopsis thaliana telomere length by PCR. Sci Rep 4:5540.
A journal article with 3 authors
Shelly DR, Beroza GC, Ide S. 2007. Non-volcanic tremor and low-frequency earthquake swarms. Nature 446:305–307.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Zong S, Wang Z, Chen H, Cui Y. 2014. Assessing telomere length using surface enhanced Raman scattering. Sci Rep 4:6977.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Khan RM. 2013. Problem Solving and Data Analysis using Minitab. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
An edited book
Roach HI, Bronner F, Oreffo ROC, editors. 2011. Epigenetic Aspects of Chronic Diseases. London: Springer.
A chapter in an edited book
Auguste P, Vincent F, Gabbiani G, Desmoulière A. 2008. The fibroblast and myofibroblast in inflammatory angiogenesis In: Seed MP, Walsh DA, editors. Angiogenesis in Inflammation: Mechanisms and Clinical Correlates. Basel: Birkhäuser. pp. 59–82.

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
Hale T. 2016. World Set To Lose Two-Thirds Of Its Wildlife By 2020, Says WWF. 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. 2009. Information Technology: FDA Needs to Establish Key Plans and Processes for Guiding Systems Modernization Efforts (No. GAO-09-523). 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
Beck J. 2017. An Inquiry into Theory Use in HCI Research (Doctoral dissertation). Bloomington, IN: Indiana 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
Vecsey G. 2011. Watching Argentina Up Close, Hoping to Learn Something. New York Times D8.

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Romanowicz, 2009).
This sentence cites two references (Romanowicz, 2009; Vaquero-Sedas and Vega-Palas, 2014).

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

  • Two authors: (Vaquero-Sedas and Vega-Palas, 2014)
  • Three or more authors: (Zong et al., 2014)

About the journal

Full journal titleeLife
ISSN (online)2050-084X

Other styles