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
T.F. Stocker, Climate change. The closing door of climate targets, Science. 339 (2013) 280–282.
A journal article with 2 authors
B.J. Reinhart, D.P. Bartel, Small RNAs correspond to centromere heterochromatic repeats, Science. 297 (2002) 1831.
A journal article with 3 authors
R.H. Karlson, H.V. Cornell, T.P. Hughes, Coral communities are regionally enriched along an oceanic biodiversity gradient, Nature. 429 (2004) 867–870.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
A.R. Adamantidis, F. Zhang, A.M. Aravanis, K. Deisseroth, L. de Lecea, Neural substrates of awakening probed with optogenetic control of hypocretin neurons, Nature. 450 (2007) 420–424.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
J. Chevallier, F. Ielpo, The Economics of Commodity Markets, John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester, UK, 2013.
An edited book
J.L. Sussman, P. Spadon, eds., From Molecules to Medicines: Structure of Biological Macromolecules and Its Relevance in Combating New Diseases and Bioterrorism, Springer Netherlands, Dordrecht, 2009.
A chapter in an edited book
G. Deflaux, T. Agagliate, J.-E. Durand, P. Yamaogo, Computerization of Medical Consultation for Children Under Five Years of Age in Rural Areas of Burkina Faso, in: J.-C. Bolay, S. Hostettler, E. Hazboun (Eds.), Technologies for Sustainable Development: A Way to Reduce Poverty?, Springer International Publishing, Cham, 2014: pp. 33–42.

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
B. Taub, Astronauts Get Taller In Space, But Also Suffer Spinal Damage, IFLScience. (2016). (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, Major ADP Systems: DOD Does Not Always Comply With Statutory Restriction on Obligations, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 1991.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
S.A. Rosie, Examining stakeholder perceptions of educational success in the Malagasy public education system, Doctoral dissertation, University of Phoenix, 2012.

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
B. Brantley, Curtain’s Up. Adulthood Can Wait, New York Times. (2017) C6.

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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