How to format your references using the mBio citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for mBio. 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
Nutt D. 2014. Help luck along to find psychiatric medicines. Nature 515:165.
A journal article with 2 authors
Abramov O, Mojzsis SJ. 2009. Microbial habitability of the Hadean Earth during the late heavy bombardment. Nature 459:419–422.
A journal article with 3 authors
Gordon AL, Susanto RD, Vranes K. 2003. Cool Indonesian throughflow as a consequence of restricted surface layer flow. Nature 425:824–828.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Poptsova MS, Il’icheva IA, Nechipurenko DY, Panchenko LA, Khodikov MV, Oparina NY, Polozov RV, Nechipurenko YD, Grokhovsky SL. 2014. Non-random DNA fragmentation in next-generation sequencing. Sci Rep 4:4532.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Reiman J. 2012. As Free and as Just as Possible. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK.
An edited book
Aapro M. 2013. Prevention of Nausea and Vomiting in Cancer Patients. Springer Healthcare Ltd., Tarporley.
A chapter in an edited book
Terhal BM. 2012. The Fragility of Quantum Information?, p. 47–56. In Dediu, A-H, Martín-Vide, C, Truthe, B (eds.), Theory and Practice of Natural Computing: First International Conference, TPNC 2012, Tarragona, Spain, October 2-4, 2012. Proceedings. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

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 mBio.

Blog post
Andrews R. 2017. Are All These Beached Giant Oarfish Warning Of An Impending Megaquake? IFLScience. IFLScience. Retrieved 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. 1999. Consolidated Education Planning: State Education Agencies’ Implementation of Consolidated Planning at the Local Level. HEHS-99-33R. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Miller MW. 2010. The Mediterranean Ethiopian: Intellectual discourse and the fixity of myth in classical antiquity. Doctoral dissertation. California State University, Long Beach, Long Beach, CA.

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
Smallwood C. 2015. On Edge. New York Times.

In-text citations

References should be cited in the text by sequential numbers in parentheses:

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 titlemBio
ISSN (online)2150-7511

Other styles