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
J.S. Siegel, Chemistry. Driving the formation of molecular knots, Science. 338 (2012) 752–753.
A journal article with 2 authors
H.-M. Ding, Y.-Q. Ma, Controlling cellular uptake of nanoparticles with pH-sensitive polymers, Sci. Rep. 3 (2013) 2804.
A journal article with 3 authors
J.M. Gómez, M. Verdú, F. Perfectti, Ecological interactions are evolutionarily conserved across the entire tree of life, Nature. 465 (2010) 918–921.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
A.M. van Oijen, P.C. Blainey, D.J. Crampton, C.C. Richardson, T. Ellenberger, X.S. Xie, Single-molecule kinetics of lambda exonuclease reveal base dependence and dynamic disorder, Science. 301 (2003) 1235–1238.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
R. Ansorge, Mathematical Models of Fluiddynamics, Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim, FRG, 2005.
An edited book
D. Wilhelm, P. Bernard, eds., Non-coding RNA and the Reproductive System, Springer Netherlands, Dordrecht, 2016.
A chapter in an edited book
J. Simsa, R. Bryant, G. Gibson, J. Hickey, Scalable Dynamic Partial Order Reduction, in: S. Qadeer, S. Tasiran (Eds.), Runtime Verification: Third International Conference, RV 2012, Istanbul, Turkey, September 25-28, 2012, Revised Selected Papers, Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, 2013: pp. 19–34.

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, Researchers Create DNA “Tape Recorder” To Track Individual Cell’s Development, 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, Preliminary Observations on the Potential Effects of the Proposed Performance Rights Act on the Recording and Broadcast Radio Industries, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 2010.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
D.W. Harris, An examination of the impact of computer-based animations and visualization sequence on student understanding of Hadley Cells in atmospheric circulation, Doctoral dissertation, University of Maryland, College Park, 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
J.B. Stewart, Musk Has Trump’s Ear, and Market Takes Note, New York Times. (2017) B1.

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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