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
Alonzo SH. 2015. Evolution. An unexpected cost of sex. Science 347:948–949.
A journal article with 2 authors
Nanus DM, Giannakakou P. 2015. CANCER. Cancer therapies that are gone with the Wnt. Science 349:1283–1284.
A journal article with 3 authors
Meyer JC, Paillet M, Roth S. 2005. Single-molecule torsional pendulum. Science 309:1539–1541.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Mirouze M, Reinders J, Bucher E, Nishimura T, Schneeberger K, Ossowski S, Cao J, Weigel D, Paszkowski J, Mathieu O. 2009. Selective epigenetic control of retrotransposition in Arabidopsis. Nature 461:427–430.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Fränzle S, Markert B, Wünschmann S. 2012. Introduction to Environmental Engineering. Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim, Germany.
An edited book
2016. Respiratory Contagion1st ed. 2016. Springer International Publishing, Cham.
A chapter in an edited book
Lee T-K, Bieler TR, Kim C-U, Ma H. 2015. Thermal Cycling Performance, p. 113–168. In Bieler, TR, Kim, C-U, Ma, H (eds.), Fundamentals of Lead-Free Solder Interconnect Technology: From Microstructures to Reliability. Springer US, Boston, MA.

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 D. 2015. What Would Happen If The Earth Got Sucked Into A Black Hole? 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. 1989. Drug Testing: Management Problems and Legal Challenges Facing DOT’s Industry Programs. RCED-90-31. 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
Joseph S. 2009. A comprehensive evaluation of a school system’s grow your own principal preparation program. Doctoral dissertation, George Washington University, Washington, DC.

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
Robles F, Stewart N. 2015. A Church Shooting Defendant With ‘a Darkness to His Life.’ 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