How to format your references using the Molecular and Cellular Biology citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB). 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
Sharp KA. 2014. Biochemistry. Protein folding, interrupted. Science 343:743–744.
A journal article with 2 authors
Lafuerza LF, Toral R. 2013. On the effect of heterogeneity in stochastic interacting-particle systems. Sci Rep 3:1189.
A journal article with 3 authors
Jiang Q-X, Wang D-N, MacKinnon R. 2004. Electron microscopic analysis of KvAP voltage-dependent K+ channels in an open conformation. Nature 430:806–810.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Ng KL, Li J-D, Cheng MY, Leslie FM, Lee AG, Zhou Q-Y. 2005. Dependence of olfactory bulb neurogenesis on prokineticin 2 signaling. Science 308:1923–1927.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Mix PE. 2004. Introduction to Nondestructive Testing. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ.
An edited book
2016. Compression Garments in Sports: Athletic Performance and Recovery. Springer International Publishing, Cham.
A chapter in an edited book
Leung AM, Brent GA. 2016. The Influence of Thyroid Hormone on Growth Hormone Secretion and Action, p. 29–46. In Cohen, LE (ed.), Growth Hormone Deficiency: Physiology and Clinical Management. Springer International Publishing, Cham.

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 Molecular and Cellular Biology.

Blog post
Luntz S. 2016. Explanation For How BCG Vaccine Protects Against Other Diseases. 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. 1979. What Assurance Does Office of Education’s Eligibility Process Provide? HRD-78-120. 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
Cannon MP. 2013. Cenozoic kinematics of the Little Pine fault, Santa Maria Basin, California. Doctoral dissertation. California State University, Long Beach, Long Beach, CA.

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
Baker L. 2007. The Zoning Policy That Worked Too Well. 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 titleMolecular and Cellular Biology
AbbreviationMol. Cell. Biol.
ISSN (print)0270-7306
ISSN (online)1098-5549
ScopeCell Biology
Molecular Biology

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