How to format your references using the Life Sciences citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for Life Sciences. 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.
EndNoteDownload the output style file
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
R. Triendl, Limited opportunity, Nature. 414 (2001) 8.
A journal article with 2 authors
C.B. Burgoyne, S.E.G. Lea, Psychology. Money is material, Science. 314 (2006) 1091–1092.
A journal article with 3 authors
A.J. Matthews, P. Singhruck, K.J. Heywood, Deep ocean impact of a Madden-Julian oscillation observed by Argo floats, Science. 318 (2007) 1765–1769.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Y. Gong, Z. Wei, J. Wang, P. Zhang, H. Li, Y. Wang, Design and fabrication of hierarchically porous carbon with a template-free method, Sci. Rep. 4 (2014) 6349.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
A.D. McAulay, Military Laser Technology for Defense, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ, 2011.
An edited book
W. Ballmann, C. Blohmann, G. Faltings, P. Teichner, D. Zagier, eds., Arbeitstagung Bonn 2013: In Memory of Friedrich Hirzebruch, Springer International Publishing, Cham, 2016.
A chapter in an edited book
M. Liuni, A. Röbel, M. Romito, X. Rodet, An Entropy Based Method for Local Time-Adaptation of the Spectrogram, in: S. Ystad, M. Aramaki, R. Kronland-Martinet, K. Jensen (Eds.), Exploring Music Contents: 7th International Symposium, CMMR 2010, Málaga, Spain, June 21-24, 2010. Revised Papers, Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, 2011: pp. 60–75.

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 Sciences.

Blog post
E. Andrew, Fossil Collecting Should Be For Everyone – Not Just Academics, IFLScience. (2015).


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, Civil Aviation Research and Development Programs and Facilities, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 1976.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
J. Mathew, Examining the relationship between secondary school head teachers’ leadership and teachers’ satisfaction in Kerala, India, Doctoral dissertation, University of Phoenix, 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
J.A. Morone, Scarface, New York Times. (2016) BR36.

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 Sciences
AbbreviationLife Sci.
ISSN (print)0024-3205
ScopeGeneral Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
General Medicine
General Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics

Other styles