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. Mukherjee, The winding road, Science. 346 (2014) 1026.
A journal article with 2 authors
R. Wang, X. Yan, Superior asymmetric supercapacitor based on Ni-Co oxide nanosheets and carbon nanorods, Sci. Rep. 4 (2014) 3712.
A journal article with 3 authors
Y. Luo, L. White, D. Hui, Comment on “Impacts of fine root turnover on forest NPP and soil C sequestration potential,” Science. 304 (2004) 1745; author reply 1745.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
A.L. Roca, G.K. Bar-Gal, E. Eizirik, K.M. Helgen, R. Maria, M.S. Springer, S.J. O’Brien, W.J. Murphy, Mesozoic origin for West Indian insectivores, Nature. 429 (2004) 649–651.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
M. Davis, J. McKimm, K. Forrest, How to Assess Doctors and Health Professionals, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK, 2013.
An edited book
R. Puls, N. Hosten, eds., Whole-body MRI Screening, Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, 2014.
A chapter in an edited book
K. Goto, Y. Sasaki, T. Hara, S. Nishio, A Mobile Agents Control Scheme for Multiple Sinks in Dense Mobile Wireless Sensor Networks, in: I. Stojmenovic, Z. Cheng, S. Guo (Eds.), Mobile and Ubiquitous Systems: Computing, Networking, and Services: 10th International Conference, MOBIQUITOUS 2013, Tokyo, Japan, December 2-4, 2013, Revised Selected Papers, Springer International Publishing, Cham, 2014: pp. 52–65.

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
R. Andrews, Physicists Forge Impossible Molecule That Chemists Failed To Make, IFLScience. (2017). (accessed October 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, No Child Left Behind Act: Improved Accessibility to Education’s Information Could Help States Further Implement Teacher Qualification Requirements, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 2005.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
B. Bartaula, Stand Level Growth and Survival Equations for Cutover Sites Loblolly Pine Plantations in the Mid-Gulf Region of Southern United States, Doctoral dissertation, Mississippi State University, 2017.

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
S. Chira, Cosby as a Lens on the Gender Beat, New York Times. (2017) A2.

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

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