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
Watson M. 2015. Test the effects of ash on jet engines. Nature 520:133.
A journal article with 2 authors
Ishizaki K, Noda S. 2009. Manipulation of photons at the surface of three-dimensional photonic crystals. Nature 460:367–370.
A journal article with 3 authors
Abelson M, Baer G, Agnon A. 2001. Evidence from gabbro of the Troodos ophiolite for lateral magma transport along a slow-spreading mid-ocean ridge. Nature 409:72–75.
A journal article with 4 or more authors
Ates S, Agha I, Gulinatti A, Rech I, Badolato A, Srinivasan K. 2013. Improving the performance of bright quantum dot single photon sources using temporal filtering via amplitude modulation. Sci Rep 3:1397.

Books and book chapters

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

An authored book
Chapman RJ. 2012. Simple Tools and Techniques for Enterprise Risk Management. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., Chichester, West Sussex, UK.
An edited book
Kopřiva J. 2015. Temporal Bone CT and MRI Anatomy: A Guide to 3D Volumetric Acquisitions. Springer International Publishing, Cham.
A chapter in an edited book
Schweiger HF, Peschl G. 2007. Basic Concepts and Applications of Random Sets in Geotechnical Engineering, p. 113–126. In Griffiths, DV, Fenton, GA (eds.), Probabilistic Methods in Geotechnical Engineering. Springer, Vienna.

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. Setting Aside Half The Earth For ‘Rewilding’: The Ethical Dimension. 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. 2014. Maritime Administration: Ship Disposal Program Needs Improved Communications and Updated Strategic Plan. GAO-14-223. 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
Evans B. 2013. An integrated program for homeless adults with co-occurring mental and subtance use disorders: A grant proposal. Doctoral dissertation. California State University, Long Beach, Long Beach, CA.

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
Poniewozik J. 2017. Nostalgia Goes Niche. 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