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
N. Gruber, Ocean biogeochemistry: Carbon at the coastal interface, Nature. 517 (2015) 148–149.
A journal article with 2 authors
V.S. Cooper, R.E. Lenski, The population genetics of ecological specialization in evolving Escherichia coli populations, Nature. 407 (2000) 736–739.
A journal article with 3 authors
V. Narayan, S. Ramaswamy, N. Menon, Long-lived giant number fluctuations in a swarming granular nematic, Science. 317 (2007) 105–108.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
A. Greilich, A. Shabaev, D.R. Yakovlev, A.L. Efros, I.A. Yugova, D. Reuter, A.D. Wieck, M. Bayer, Nuclei-induced frequency focusing of electron spin coherence, Science. 317 (2007) 1896–1899.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
B. Wills, Purposely Profitable, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK, 2016.
An edited book
G.H. Enders, ed., Cell Cycle Deregulation in Cancer, Springer, New York, NY, 2010.
A chapter in an edited book
M. Urbanek, Genetic Analyses of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, in: A. Dunaif, R.J. Chang, S. Franks, R.S. Legro (Eds.), Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Current Controversies, From The Ovary To The Pancreas, Humana Press, Totowa, NJ, 2008: pp. 51–86.

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
J. Davis, Scientists Develop Self-Healing Airplane Wing, IFLScience. (2015).


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, Vocational Education: Changes at High School Level After Amendments to Perkins Act, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 1995.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
C. Abraham, How Are Nonresident African American Fathers Involved in Their Children’s Academic Success?, Doctoral dissertation, George Washington 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
C.W. Philadelphia, April 28-A single goal scored with their goaltender sprawled on his back ended the Islanders’ season tonight., Special to the New York Times In the type of grind-it-out hockey that was the trademark of the Islanders’ dynasty, The Philadelphia Flyers Defeated, 1-, captured the Patrick division title by taking the four-of-seven playoff series four games to one. The Flyers will now advance to the semifinal round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Montreal Canadiens or Quebec Nordiques., T. Islanders, for the first time in seven years, have been dismissed before the semifinal round has begun. ’ ’There is no justifying losing, ’ ’ said Bryan Trottier. ’ ’It doesn’t help to think about what we’ve accomplished. You live in the present, we’re losers now.’’ ’ ’To beat the Islanders is an honor, ’ ’ said the Flyer defensman Brad Marsh. Ilkka Sinisalo, a. L. Wing, scored the night’s only goal 6 minutes 43 seconds into the second period, a split second after Philadelphia’s Peter Zezel skated into the Islanders’ goalie, K. Hrudey, Sent Him Sprawling After, an I. Defenseman, H.B.D.P.I. in V.T.I.A.W.R.A. Van Hellemond that Murray Craven of the Flyers had skated offsides, but they did not vehemently protest the collision. ’ ’If I were on the ice, ’ ’ Said General Manager, ’ ’I would have been squawking. But if it’s allowed, we’ll have to find ourselves a designated hitter.’’ ’ ’It was a borderline call, “ ’ said Hrudey.”’ Zezel said: “‘It wasn’t on purpose. I just ended up on top of Hrudey.’” The Islanders gave a final desperate effort. They pulled Hrudey with 44 seconds remaining, but when Doug Crossman blocked a last-ditch shot by John Tonelli at the top of the left circle with 7 seconds left, it was plain that the Islanders had exhausted every chance. Touching Scene, W.T.M. Than, 000 Fans in, a poignant scene unfolded at center ice. The Flyers, a young team that had tallied more points than any club this season, paid their respects to the four-time champions who have seen their vintage days pass. Many of the Islander players who shook hands with the Flyers at center ice, heroes of the Stanley Cup years such as Clark Gillies, B. Nystrom, A. Kallur, may not return next year. The players later said they would have to wait for management decisions, but they appreciated that a threshhold may have been crossed. ’ ’I don’t know what will happen, ’ ’ Said Nystrom, who played with the Islanders in 1972-, T.F. Season, when they won just 12 times. ’ ’I thought that somehow I could pull something out of the bag, that someone could. But now we have to look at the young guys.’’ ’ ’If I had it my way, I Would Keep Everything, ’ ’ said Gillies. The last players to leave the ice were Denis Potvin, T. Captain, W.S.N. Tears, B. Sutter, the Islanders’ center who hugged his brother, Ron Sutter of, at C.I.C.M.L.C. Al Arbour may not be back, but he said he would wait two weeks before making a decision. He was typically restrained as he spoke in a jammed hallway outside his team’s somber dressing room, But His Words, telling. ’ ’They had more players going all-out than we did, ’ ’ he said. “‘I think our young guys in this series were our best players.’” The best of the lot was Hrudey, who replaced Billy Smith as the starting goalie in the last two games, W. Thurday, S. 37 S. tonight., More Than Other, he represents the transition of the team. Tonight, The Spectrum Throbbed For, whose last great success in the playoffs came in 1980 when they reached the finals, only to lose to the Islanders’ first Stanley Cup team. After that, The Islanders Built, Winning Three More Stanley, ’, ’, then lost last year in the final round to Edmonton in five games. But even with that defeat, they did not lose their image as a team that usually won when it counted. Certainly that reputation was enhanced in the first round of the playoffs. After the Islanders struggled through their worst regular season since the early days of the franchise, T. Lost, T.G. to None, T. Washington, then won three in a row. They dropped the first three games to Philadelphia, but avoided a sweep by winning at the Nassau Colliseum last Thursday, S.H.T. Another, even more improbable comeback was impending. But the Islanders tonight were again stonewalled by the Flyers’ swarming defense, by T.F. Goalie, P. Lindbergh, who achieved his second shutout of the series, T.A. 25 Shots, FLYERS ELIMINATE ISLANDERS, 1-0, ON SINISALO’S GOAL, New York Times. (1985) C1.

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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