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
Arns M. 2014. Open access is tiring out peer reviewers. Nature 515:467.
A journal article with 2 authors
Horne-Badovinac S, Munro E. 2011. Developmental biology. Tubular transformations. Science 333:294–295.
A journal article with 3 authors
Bala ADS, Spitzer MW, Takahashi TT. 2003. Prediction of auditory spatial acuity from neural images on the owl’s auditory space map. Nature 424:771–774.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Cheng YC, Kicas S, Trull J, Peckus M, Cojocaru C, Vilaseca R, Drazdys R, Staliunas K. 2014. Flat focusing mirror. Sci Rep 4:6326.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Abner DJ. 2010. The ETF Handbook. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ.
An edited book
Masoudi-Nejad A. 2013. Next Generation Sequencing and Sequence Assembly: Methodologies and Algorithms. Springer, New York, NY.
A chapter in an edited book
Pettinari M, Sangiorgi C, Petretto F, Picariello F. 2012. Comparison between 2PB and 4PB Methodologies Based on the Dissipated Energy Approach, p. 31–39. In Scarpas, A, Kringos, N, Al-Qadi, I, A., L (eds.), 7th RILEM International Conference on Cracking in Pavements: Mechanisms, Modeling, Testing, Detection and Prevention Case Histories. Springer Netherlands, Dordrecht.

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
Fang J. 2015. Scientists Shave Spider’s Moustaches To See If They Help Lure Prey. 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. 2000. Aviation and the Environment: Results From a Survey of the Nation’s 50 Busiest Commercial Service Airports. RCED-00-222. 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
Becker M. 2017. Women’s Descriptions Six Months Post Notification of Positive BRCA 1/2 Genetic Mutations. Doctoral dissertation. Capella University, Minneapolis, MN.

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
Wasik JF. 2016. Trading Stocks for Bonds Poses Its Own Risks. 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