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
Ghigo, JM (2001). Natural conjugative plasmids induce bacterial biofilm development. Nature 412, 442–445.
A journal article with 2 authors
Kroymann, J, and Mitchell-Olds, T (2005). Epistasis and balanced polymorphism influencing complex trait variation. Nature 435, 95–98.
A journal article with 3 authors
Wagemaker, M, Kentgens, APM, and Mulder, FM (2002). Equilibrium lithium transport between nanocrystalline phases in intercalated TiO(2) anatase. Nature 418, 397–399.
A journal article with 11 or more authors
Ozcan, U, Yilmaz, E, Ozcan, L, Furuhashi, M, Vaillancourt, E, Smith, RO, Görgün, CZ, and Hotamisligil, GS (2006). Chemical chaperones reduce ER stress and restore glucose homeostasis in a mouse model of type 2 diabetes. Science 313, 1137–1140.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Saadoun, AP (2012). Esthetic Soft Tissue Management of Teeth and Implants, West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd,.
An edited book
Baum, PF (2011). Topics in Algebraic and Topological K-Theory, Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer.
A chapter in an edited book
Szlávi, P, and Zsakó, L (2006). Programming Versus Application. In: Informatics Education – The Bridge between Using and Understanding Computers: International Conference in Informatics in Secondary Schools – Evolution and Perspectives, ISSEP 2006, Vilnius, Lithuania, November 7-11, 2006. Proceedings, ed. RT Mittermeir, Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer, 48–58.

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
Luntz, S (2017). Helium Not Such A Noble Gas After All, As Scientists Form Stable Compound. 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 (2005). National Airspace System: FAA Has Made Progress but Continues to Face Challenges in Acquiring Major Air Traffic Control Systems, 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
Magda, B (2009). Increasing efficacy of emergency departments through systems analysis of enterprise architecture: Mitigating the impact of technological change. Doctoral dissertation. George Washington 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
Wagner, J (2017). Syndergaard Brings the Heat, and the Mets’ Bats End Their Chilly Start. New York Times, D6.

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Ghigo, 2001).
This sentence cites two references (Ghigo, 2001; Kroymann and Mitchell-Olds, 2005).

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

  • Two authors: (Kroymann and Mitchell-Olds, 2005)
  • Three or more authors: (Ozcan et al., 2006)

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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