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
Jackson, A. Intense Equatorial Flux Spots on the Surface of the Earth’s Core. Nature 2003, 424, 760–763.
A journal article with 2 authors
Riskin, D.K.; Hermanson, J.W. Biomechanics: Independent Evolution of Running in Vampire Bats. Nature 2005, 434, 292.
A journal article with 3 authors
Dudovich, N.; Oron, D.; Silberberg, Y. Single-Pulse Coherently Controlled Nonlinear Raman Spectroscopy and Microscopy. Nature 2002, 418, 512–514.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Baldwin, M.P.; Stephenson, D.B.; Thompson, D.W.J.; Dunkerton, T.J.; Charlton, A.J.; O’Neill, A. Stratospheric Memory and Skill of Extended-Range Weather Forecasts. Science 2003, 301, 636–640.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Kerzner, H.; Belack, C. Managing Complex Projects; John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: Hoboken, NJ, 2010; ISBN 9780470927977.
An edited book
Araújo, V. Three-Dimensional Flows; Pacifico, M.J., Ed.; Ergebnisse der Mathematik und ihrer Grenzgebiete. 3. Folge / A Series of Modern Surveys in Mathematics; Springer: Berlin, Heidelberg, 2010; Vol. 53; ISBN 9783642114137.
A chapter in an edited book
Braga, B.; Porto, M.; Meneses, L. Integrated Water Quality Management in Brazil. In Water Quality Management in the Americas; Biswas, A.K., Braga, B., Tortajada, C., Rodriguez, D.J., Eds.; Water Resources Development and Management; Springer: Berlin, Heidelberg, 2006; pp. 79–94 ISBN 9783540242901.

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
Andrew, E. Many Bats Hate Long Commutes – Here’s How To Help Them Available online: (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 NASA’s Deep Space Network: Current Management Structure Is Not Conducive to Effectively Matching Resources with Future Requirements; U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington, DC, 2006;

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Kim, Y.I. Essays on Volatility Risk, Asset Returns and Consumption-Based Asset Pricing. Doctoral dissertation, Ohio State University: Columbus, OH, 2008.

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
Rothenberg, B. Knickers In a Twist Over a Hint Of Color. New York Times 2017, B9.

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

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