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
Lynch, M (2002). Genomics. Gene duplication and evolution. Science 297, 945–947.
A journal article with 2 authors
Dragoi, G, and Tonegawa, S (2011). Preplay of future place cell sequences by hippocampal cellular assemblies. Nature 469, 397–401.
A journal article with 3 authors
Abelson, M, Baer, G, and Agnon, A (2001). Evidence from gabbro of the Troodos ophiolite for lateral magma transport along a slow-spreading mid-ocean ridge. Nature 409, 72–75.
A journal article with 11 or more authors
Ho, M-C, Ménétret, J-F, Tsuruta, H, and Allen, KN (2009). The origin of the electrostatic perturbation in acetoacetate decarboxylase. Nature 459, 393–397.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Henderson, TJ (2011). Beyond Borders, Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.
An edited book
(2008). New Issues and Paradigms in Research on Social Dilemmas, Boston, MA: Springer US.
A chapter in an edited book
Hardie, RC (2014). Photosensitive TRPs. In: Mammalian Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) Cation Channels: Volume II, ed. B Nilius, and V Flockerzi, Cham: Springer International Publishing, 795–826.

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
Davis, J (2017). Lost Medieval City Discovered On England-Wales Border. 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 (2007). Air Traffic Control: FAA Reports Progress in System Acquisitions, but Changes in Performance Measurement Could Improve Usefulness of Information, 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
Talice, KW (2017). An Assessment of Veterans Affairs Healthcare Leadership Competencies. Doctoral dissertation. Capella 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
Ruprecht, T (2011). In Too Deep. New York Times, MM50.

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Lynch, 2002).
This sentence cites two references (Lynch, 2002; Dragoi and Tonegawa, 2011).

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

  • Two authors: (Dragoi and Tonegawa, 2011)
  • Three or more authors: (Ho et al., 2009)

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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