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
Primorac, D (2009). Information technology. Innovating education in Croatia. Science 324, 1650.
A journal article with 2 authors
Carrington, JC, and Ambros, V (2003). Role of microRNAs in plant and animal development. Science 301, 336–338.
A journal article with 3 authors
Ferguson, NM, Donnelly, CA, and Anderson, RM (2001). Transmission intensity and impact of control policies on the foot and mouth epidemic in Great Britain. Nature 413, 542–548.
A journal article with 11 or more authors
Castets, M et al. (2011). DCC constrains tumour progression via its dependence receptor activity. Nature 482, 534–537.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Rao, CL, Narayanamurthy, V, and Simha, KRY (2016). Applied Impact Mechanics, Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
An edited book
(2014). Nanoscience with Liquid Crystals: From Self-Organized Nanostructures to Applications, Cham: Springer International Publishing.
A chapter in an edited book
Wessels, H (2011). Statistics in the South African School Curriculum. In: Teaching Statistics in School Mathematics-Challenges for Teaching and Teacher Education: A Joint ICMI/IASE Study: The 18th ICMI Study, ed. C Batanero, G Burrill, and C Reading, Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands, 21–25.

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
Andrew, E (2014). The Compound Behind All Those Stories About Red Wine Being Good For You. 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 (1977). Management of a National Science Foundation Office of Energy Research and Development Policy Grant to the George Washington University: Questions, Answers, and Recommendations, 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
Hansell, L (2017). Perceptions of Supervisor Ethical Behavior by Psychology Interns. 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
St. John Kelly, E (1994). PLAYING IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD. New York Times, 1312.

In-text citations

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

This sentence cites one reference (Primorac, 2009).
This sentence cites two references (Carrington and Ambros, 2003; Primorac, 2009).

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

  • Two authors: (Carrington and Ambros, 2003)
  • Three or more authors: (Castets et al., 2011)

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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