How to format your references using the Molecular Biology of the Cell citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for Molecular Biology of the Cell. 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
Krot, AN (2011). Planetary science. Bringing part of an asteroid back home. Science 333, 1098–1099.
A journal article with 2 authors
Demaine, LJ, and Fellmeth, AX (2003). Patent law. Natural substances and patentable inventions. Science 300, 1375–1376.
A journal article with 3 authors
Nielsen, SB, Stephenson, R, and Thomsen, E (2007). Dynamics of Mid-Palaeocene North Atlantic rifting linked with European intra-plate deformations. Nature 450, 1071–1074.
A journal article with 11 or more authors
Xiong, JP, Stehle, T, Diefenbach, B, Zhang, R, Dunker, R, Scott, DL, Joachimiak, A, Goodman, SL, and Arnaout, MA (2001). Crystal structure of the extracellular segment of integrin alpha Vbeta3. Science 294, 339–345.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Zhang, S-L (2012). Raman Spectroscopy and its Application in Nanostructures, Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
An edited book
(2016). Percutaneous Penetration Enhancers Chemical Methods in Penetration Enhancement: Nanocarriers, Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer.
A chapter in an edited book
Rosales-López, A, and Ortiz-Posadas, MR (2009). A Distribution Strategy for Imaging Centers in the Costa Rican Public Health System. In: World Congress on Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering, September 7 - 12, 2009, Munich, Germany: Vol. 25/12 General Subjects, ed. O Dössel, and WC Schlegel, Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer, 12–15.

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 Biology of the Cell.

Blog post
Andrews, R (2016). Is Female Ejaculation Real? IFLScience. Available at: 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 (1983). Implications of Joint NASA/DOD Participation in Space Shuttle Operations, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Theses and dissertations

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

Doctoral dissertation
Fisher, JD (2015). A profile of the chief student affairs officers of the California State University system. Doctoral dissertation. Pepperdine University.

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
Billard, M (2010). Dress Like a Benefactor. New York Times, E5.

In-text citations

References should be cited in the text by name and year in parentheses:

This sentence cites one reference (Krot, 2011).
This sentence cites two references (Demaine and Fellmeth, 2003; Krot, 2011).

Here are examples of in-text citations with multiple authors:

  • Two authors: (Demaine and Fellmeth, 2003)
  • Three or more authors: (Xiong et al., 2001)

About the journal

Full journal titleMolecular Biology of the Cell
AbbreviationMol. Biol. Cell
ISSN (print)1059-1524
ISSN (online)1939-4586
ScopeCell Biology
Molecular Biology

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