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
Sodeoka M. 2011. Chemistry. Efficient fluorination of organic molecules with chiral anions. Science 334:1651–1652.
A journal article with 2 authors
Diao A, Lowe M. 2004. Cell biology. The Golgi goes fission. Science 305:48–49.
A journal article with 3 authors
Gladyshev EA, Meselson M, Arkhipova IR. 2008. Massive horizontal gene transfer in bdelloid rotifers. Science 320:1210–1213.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Nakashiba T, Young JZ, McHugh TJ, Buhl DL, Tonegawa S. 2008. Transgenic inhibition of synaptic transmission reveals role of CA3 output in hippocampal learning. Science 319:1260–1264.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Misra DK. 2006. Practical Electromagnetics. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ.
An edited book
2005. Dopamine and Glutamate in Psychiatric Disorders. Humana Press, Totowa, NJ.
A chapter in an edited book
Schadendorf D, Kochs C, Livingstone E. 2013. Treatment of Distant and Irresectable Metastatic Disease, p. 79–104. In Kochs, C, Livingstone, E (eds.), Handbook of Cutaneous Melanoma: A Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment. Springer Healthcare Ltd., Tarporley.

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
Davis J. 2015. Scientist Grow Kidneys In A Laboratory That Function When Transplanted Into An Animal. IFLScience. IFLScience. Retrieved 30 October 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. 2016. Student Loans: Oversight of Servicemembers’ Interest Rate Cap Could Be Strengthened. GAO-17-4. 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
Tarar WA. 2008. A New Finite Element Procedure for Fatigue Life Predictionand High Strain Rate Assessment of Cold Worked Advanced High Strength Steel. 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
Hollander S. 2002. BackTalk; Uncertainty and Stress Cross the Finish Line. 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