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. Thwaites, Research metrics: calling science to account, Nature. 511 (2014) S57-60.
A journal article with 2 authors
K. Davidson, R.M. Humphreys, The Great Eruption of η Carinae, Nature. 486 (2012) E1; discussion E1-2.
A journal article with 3 authors
G. Coaker, A. Falick, B. Staskawicz, Activation of a phytopathogenic bacterial effector protein by a eukaryotic cyclophilin, Science. 308 (2005) 548–550.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
P. Arzberger, P. Schroeder, A. Beaulieu, G. Bowker, K. Casey, L. Laaksonen, D. Moorman, P. Uhlir, P. Wouters, Science and government. An international framework to promote access to data, Science. 303 (2004) 1777–1778.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
J.G. van Bosse, Signaling in Telecommunication Networks, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, USA, 2002.
An edited book
L.W. Szajdak, ed., Bioactive Compounds in Agricultural Soils, Springer International Publishing, Cham, 2016.
A chapter in an edited book
C. Mahanta, R. Choudhury, S. Basu, R. Hemani, A. Dutta, P.P. Barua, P.J. Borah, M. Bhattacharya, K. Bhattacharya, W. Alam, L. Saikia, A. Mukherjee, P. Bhattacharya, Preliminary Assessment of Arsenic Distribution in Brahmaputra River Basin of India Based on Examination of 56,180 Public Groundwater Wells, in: A.L. Ramanathan, S. Johnston, A. Mukherjee, B. Nath (Eds.), Safe and Sustainable Use of Arsenic-Contaminated Aquifers in the Gangetic Plain: A Multidisciplinary Approach, Springer International Publishing, Cham, 2015: pp. 57–64.

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
E. Andrew, Ultrasound-Activated Bubbles Could Help Make Cancer Drugs More Effective And Less Nasty, IFLScience. (2015). (accessed October 30, 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, Expenditures of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for Public Relations Activities, 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
H.A. Al khuwaildi, Green techniques in the healthcare system, Doctoral dissertation, California State University, Long Beach, 2010.

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
D. Ivory, R.R. Ruiz, Cobalts Were Seen as Lemons From Start, State Data Shows, New York Times. (2014) A1.

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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