How to format your references using the Life citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for Life. 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
Ziff, R.M. Mathematics. Getting the Jump on Explosive Percolation. Science 2013, 339, 1159–1160.
A journal article with 2 authors
Butterworth, B.; Kovas, Y. Understanding Neurocognitive Developmental Disorders Can Improve Education for All. Science 2013, 340, 300–305.
A journal article with 3 authors
Sweeney, K.E.; Roering, J.J.; Ellis, C. GEOMORPHOLOGY. Experimental Evidence for Hillslope Control of Landscape Scale. Science 2015, 349, 51–53.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Bennett, M.R.; Pang, W.L.; Ostroff, N.A.; Baumgartner, B.L.; Nayak, S.; Tsimring, L.S.; Hasty, J. Metabolic Gene Regulation in a Dynamically Changing Environment. Nature 2008, 454, 1119–1122.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Lalanne, C. Specification Development; John Wiley & Sons, Ltd: Chichester, UK, 2014; ISBN 9781118931219.
An edited book
Handbook of Social Indicators and Quality of Life Research; Land, K.C., Michalos, A.C., Sirgy, M.J., Eds.; Springer Netherlands: Dordrecht, 2012; ISBN 9789400724204.
A chapter in an edited book
Xie, X.; Yeo, S.Y.; Mirmehdi, M.; Sazonov, I.; Nithiarasu, P. Image Gradient Based Level Set Methods in 2D and 3D. In Deformation Models: Tracking, Animation and Applications; González Hidalgo, M., Mir Torres, A., Varona Gómez, J., Eds.; Lecture Notes in Computational Vision and Biomechanics; Springer Netherlands: Dordrecht, 2013; pp. 101–120 ISBN 9789400754454.

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 Life.

Blog post
Davis, J. Color-Changing Bacteria Could Be Used To Diagnose Gut Diseases From Poop (accessed on 30 October 2018).


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 Applying Agreed-Upon Procedures: Airport and Airway Trust Fund Excise Taxes; U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington, DC, 2003;

Theses and dissertations

Theses including Ph.D. dissertations, Master's theses or Bachelor theses follow the basic format outlined below.

Doctoral dissertation
Allyasin, F. Low-Cost Frequency-Domain Methods of Ruby Fluorescence Lifetime Measurements. Doctoral dissertation, California State University, Long Beach: Long Beach, CA, 2010.

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
Kelly, C. The Right Look Gives A Home a Second Act. New York Times 2007, WE6.

In-text citations

References should be cited in the text by sequential numbers in square brackets:

This sentence cites one reference [1].
This sentence cites two references [1,2].
This sentence cites four references [1–4].

About the journal

Full journal titleLife
AbbreviationLife (Basel)
ISSN (online)2075-1729
ScopeEcology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Space and Planetary Science

Other styles