How to format your references using the Methods citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for Methods. 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. Selker, Voting technology. Election auditing is an end-to-end procedure, Science. 308 (2005) 1873–1874.
A journal article with 2 authors
G.G. Simpson, C. Dean, Arabidopsis, the Rosetta stone of flowering time?, Science. 296 (2002) 285–289.
A journal article with 3 authors
A. Gonsamo, J.M. Chen, C. Wu, Citizen Science: linking the recent rapid advances of plant flowering in Canada with climate variability, Sci. Rep. 3 (2013) 2239.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
K. Chen, J. Hirst, R. Camba, C.A. Bonagura, C.D. Stout, B.K. Burgess, F.A. Armstrong, Atomically defined mechanism for proton transfer to a buried redox centre in a protein, Nature. 405 (2000) 814–817.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
R. Heckman, Designing Platform Independent Mobile Apps and Services, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ, 2016.
An edited book
S. Jajodia, A.K. Ghosh, V.S. Subrahmanian, V. Swarup, C. Wang, X.S. Wang, eds., Moving Target Defense II: Application of Game Theory and Adversarial Modeling, Springer, New York, NY, 2013.
A chapter in an edited book
R. Alenda, N. Olivetti, Tableau Calculus for the Logic of Comparative Similarity over Arbitrary Distance Spaces, in: C.G. Fermüller, A. Voronkov (Eds.), Logic for Programming, Artificial Intelligence, and Reasoning: 17th International Conference, LPAR-17, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, October 10-15, 2010. Proceedings, Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, 2010: pp. 52–66.

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 Methods.

Blog post
K. Hamilton, To Fight Antibiotic Resistance, We Need To Fight Bad Prescribing Habits, IFLScience. (2016).


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, Tools and Techniques for Improving the Efficiency of Federal Automatic Data Processing Operation, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 1974.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
J.A. Wheeler, The Scaling of High Harmonics with Mid-Infrared Driving Fields and a Method for the Spatial Isolation of Individual Subfemtosecond Pulses, Doctoral dissertation, Ohio State University, 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
G.S. Martin, J. Leland, Worshiping the Bony Lady, New York Times. (2017) MB6.

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 titleMethods
ISSN (print)1046-2023
ScopeGeneral Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Molecular Biology

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