How to format your references using the mSphere citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for mSphere. 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
Stewart M. 2003. Structural biology. Nuclear trafficking. Science 302:1513–1514.
A journal article with 2 authors
Ionescu AM, Riel H. 2011. Tunnel field-effect transistors as energy-efficient electronic switches. Nature 479:329–337.
A journal article with 3 authors
Kärkäs MD, Matsuura BS, Stephenson CRJ. 2015. ORGANIC CHEMISTRY. Enchained by visible light-mediated photoredox catalysis. Science 349:1285–1286.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Gleckler PJ, Wigley TML, Santer BD, Gregory JM, Achutarao K, Taylor KE. 2006. Volcanoes and climate: Krakatoa’s signature persists in the ocean. Nature 439:675.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Radcliff PB. 2017. Modern Spain. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK.
An edited book
Schwenker B. 2007. Making Growth Work: How Companies Can Expand and Become More Efficient. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.
A chapter in an edited book
Cohen R, Wang T. 2014. GUI Design for Android Apps, Part 4: Graphic Interface and Touchscreen Input, p. 105–133. In Wang, T (ed.), GUI Design for Android Apps. Apress, Berkeley, CA.

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 mSphere.

Blog post
Andrew E. 2015. NASA Discovers Liquid Salty Water Flowing On Mars. IFLScience. IFLScience.


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. 1987. Aircraft Modifications: Overestimates of Costs Generate Excess Funds. NSIAD-87-199BR. 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
Ortega S de. 2006. The Impact of Outcome Measurement on Non-profit Organizations: A Case Study. Doctoral dissertation, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.

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
Grynbaum MM. 2017. Testimony By Comey Turns Into Ratings Gold. 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 titlemSphere
ISSN (online)2379-5042

Other styles