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
Heritage, J. Plant sciences. Super sunflowers--stopping the rot? Science 2003, 300, 1243–1244.
A journal article with 2 authors
Hibbs, R.E.; Gouaux, E. Principles of activation and permeation in an anion-selective Cys-loop receptor. Nature 2011, 474, 54–60.
A journal article with 3 authors
Wu, J.; Zhang, C.; Qiao, H. The significance of p40 expression in sclerosing hemangioma of lung. Sci. Rep. 2014, 4, 6102.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Xiao, N.; Chen, Y.; Chen, A.; Feng, L. Enhanced bio-hydrogen production from protein wastewater by altering protein structure and amino acids acidification type. Sci. Rep. 2014, 4, 3992.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Askoolum, A. System Building with APL + Win; John Wiley & Sons, Ltd: Chichester, UK, 2007; ISBN 9780470034347.
An edited book
Sensors: Proceedings of the First National Conference on Sensors, Rome 15-17 February, 2012; Baldini, F., D’Amico, A., Di Natale, C., Siciliano, P., Seeber, R., De Stefano, L., Bizzarri, R., Andò, B., Eds.; Lecture Notes in Electrical Engineering; Springer: New York, NY, 2014; Vol. 162; ISBN 9781461438595.
A chapter in an edited book
Tanifuji, M.; Sato, T.; Uchida, G.; Yamane, Y.; Tsunoda, K. How Images of Objects Are Represented in Macaque Inferotemporal Cortex. In Imaging the Brain with Optical Methods; Roe, A.W., Ed.; Springer: New York, NY, 2010; pp. 93–117 ISBN 9781441904515.

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
Fang, J. Kiwi Bird Genome Reveals How They Adapted to Nocturnal Lifestyle (accessed on Oct 30, 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 Export Controls: NASA Management Action and Improved Oversight Needed to Reduce the Risk of Unauthorized Access to Its Technologies; U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington, DC, 2014;

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Gamez Grijalva, V.M. Biological and physical-chemical methods for treatment of semiconductor manufacturing effluents. Doctoral dissertation, University of Arizona: Tucson, AZ, 2009.

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
Billard, M. Scouting Report. New York Times 2010, E5.

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